Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
DENVER—Luke Kunin, perhaps the top prospect in the entire Wild organization, was called up from the minors this week. He watched two games from the press box and was slated to return to the lineup on Friday night against the rival Colorado Avalanche. "I just hope he plays like he played when he was last up here," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's got speed and plays a fairly physical game and is pretty responsible. If he does all of those things, we'll be very happy."
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eric Staal was named the NHL's First Star of the Month for February on Thursday, March 1. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and taxes are due in six weeks. In fact, Staal earning the accolade might have been the least surprising news in the entire world on Thursday, considering he scored 13 goals in 13 games over 28 days, leading the Wild to a 9-2-2 record in February that has vaulted them into third place in the Central Division.
ST. PAUL — Luke Kunin could be the shot in the arm the Wild need down the stretch. At least that's what members of the front office are hoping after recalling the 20-year-old forward from the minors on Tuesday, Feb. 27. "Obviously, he's a player we think very highly of," general manager Chuck Fletcher said this week. A first-round pick out of the University of Wisconsin in the 2016 NHL Draft, Kunin watched from the press box on Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center as the Wild dismantled the rival St. Louis Blues.
ST. PAUL — Chris Stewart was claimed by the Calgary Flames on Monday, Feb. 26, one day after the Wild placed the veteran winger on waivers. "That's the tough thing about our business, losing a good friend like Stew," said defenseman Matt Dumba, one of Stewart's closest friends on the team. "It's hard. He's going to my hometown, so I'll make sure I take care of him.
In search of some salary cap space, the Wild traded Mike Reilly to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, marking the end of the 24-year-old blue liner’s career with the hometown team. Reilly had 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 38 games with the Wild this season. He carried a $725,000 cap hit, which the Wild will be relieved of in the deal.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—Afton native Jessie Diggins still has the weathered scrap of cardboard that her idol, Kikkan Randall, signed for her nearly a decade ago. Back then, Diggins was a wide-eyed teenager with goals of someday competing in the Olympics, while Randall was a budding star on the U.S. women's cross country ski team blazing a trail for generations to follow. Neither expected during that chance meeting at an event in Anchorage, Alaska, what awaited them.
NEWARK, N.J. — Wild defenseman Mike Reilly has been trying his best to keep his mouth shut and be a good teammate the past couple of months. Not the easiest thing considering he's been a consistent healthy scratch on the blue line, playing in only six games in the calendar year prior to earning a start in the Thursday, Feb. 22, game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark. "Yeah, it's been tough," Reilly said. "I'm just trying to stay ready and stay positive and get some extra work on the ice and keep pushing my game."
NEWARK, N.J. — Wild speedster Jason Zucker had a nearly 30-minute drive home from the rink to think about his worst game of the season — his words, not ours. Yet as soon as he walked in the front door of his Edina home, his frustration began melting away. Suddenly, the 4-3 overtime loss to the last-place Arizona Coyotes didn't matter as much, nor did the fact that he was a very obvious minus-3 in the matchup. In that moment, the only thing that Zucker was thinking about was his 3-month-old son, Hendrix.
NEW YORK—You could tell it was weighing on the mind of Minnesota Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek. Going 50 games without scoring a goal is enough to make even the most confident player start to question himself. Maybe that's why the stoic rookie let out such a big roar when he saw the puck cross the goal line in a 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, Feb. 19, at the Barclays Center.
NEW YORK—Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has remained steadfast that struggling rookie Joel Eriksson Ek is going to figure it out. Eventually. A couple of months ago, Boudreau stuck up for Eriksson Ek after a Dec. 27 matchup with the Dallas Stars despite the fact the Swede hadn't scored since the Oct. 5 season opener against the Detroit Red Wings.