With one final practice Wednesday morning at Tria Rink, the Wild completed its 10-day training camp for the truncated, 56-game 2020-21 NHL season and turned its attention to Thursday night's opener at Los Angeles.
"Looking forward to getting there and seeing what everything's all about," said Wild coach Dean Evason, who will lead the team for the first time in a season opener after taking over for Bruce Boudreau last February. "Obviously, looking forward to that drop of the puck [Thursday] night."
Evason will bring 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies to Los Angeles, plus a taxi squad of six players. The Wild announced its roster during Wednesday's practice, with forward Gerry Mayhew and defenseman Brad Hunt grabbing the final spots.
The Wild's line combinations in training camp have been: Nick Bjugstad centering Zach Parise and Kirill Kaprizov; Nick Bonino centering Marcus Johansson and Kevin Fiala; Joel Eriksson Ek centering Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno; and Victor Rask centering Nico Sturm and Ryan Hartman.
The team's defensive pairings are: Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon, and Carson Soucy and Greg Pateryn.
Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen are the goalies.
On the taxi squad, the Wild has forwards Kyle Rau and Luke Johnson, defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio and Dakota Mermis, and goalie Andrew Hammond. The NHL added the taxi squad this season to allow teams roster flexibility amid the coronavirus pandemic. Players on the taxi squad, who have cleared waivers, can be placed on the active roster as late as 4 p.m. on game days.
Evason liked what he saw as training camp concluded.
"Everybody was fired up [Wednesday]," he said. "We had a lot of energy, a lot of detail, a lot of execution. Hopefully, that rolls over to [Thursday] night."
Spurgeon, in his first training camp as the Wild's captain, concurred.
"We had a great camp. It was up-pace and a lot of speed involved with it," he said. "We're just ready to get things going. It's been a long time for us."
Stalock in COVID-19 protocol
Goalie Alex Stalock, who is out indefinitely because of an upper-body injury, was designated along with forward Mats Zuccarello (arm) as an injured nonroster player. Stalock also was listed by the NHL as unavailable to practice Wednesday in accordance with the league's COVID-19 protocols.
The NHL this season is releasing list of players unavailable to play, practice or travel as COVID protocol-related absences. They can result from several factors, including an initial positive test that remains unconfirmed, mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals, required quarantine as a high-risk close contact, isolation based on a confirmed positive test, and quarantine for travel or other reasons.
Careful of COVID-19
The NHL on Tuesday announced that 27 players among nine teams had positive COVID-19 tests during training camp. The Dallas Stars had 17 of those. Wednesday's announcement had 22 players in COVID-19 protocol, including Columbus' Mikko Koivu, the former Wild captain; Nashville's Mikael Granlund, formerly of the Wild; and Colorado's Erik Johnson.
Spurgeon stressed the need to stay diligent in adhering to measures meant to avoid the virus.
"We talked about it, just how careful you have to be," he said. "It's not ideal, but at the same time, we want everyone to be healthy and give ourselves the best chance. Guys have been doing a great job of just staying safe. You don't want it to creep into your team at the wrong time. It could ruin your season."