By Michael Russo, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Chuck Fletcher’s the type of guy to give a player a new lease on life if he’s unable to get in the lineup, but it might be tough for the Wild general manager to trade rarely used Mike Lundin before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner was placed on injured reserve Thursday because of a leg injury, so trading Lundin could deplete the Wild’s blue-line depth. Greg Zanon is also trade bait as a potential free agent, and Marek Zidlicky has indicated he would consider waiving his no-trade clause.
“You trade a D, now you might be down to six guys not counting Marco,” Fletcher said, referring to Houston’s Marco Scandella. “At this point, we’ve got to do what’s best for the team. We don’t want to do anything that takes away our ability to make the playoffs.
“What’s the point of shooting for a small future consideration to move an NHL player when you may need that NHL player? Believe me, we all want picks and prospects, but we may need that NHL player more.”
Lundin has been scratched in 16 of the past 20 games.
“It’s been real tough on him,” coach Mike Yeo said. “Obviously we brought him here for a reason, and it wasn’t just to be a seventh defenseman and sit out every night.”
Yeo said Lundin slipped on the depth chart when he missed the first 23 games because of a back injury.
“We still have a lot of confidence in him,” Yeo said. “We know that he can come in and contribute and play real solid minutes for us, so we have to make sure that mentally he’s in the right state and also physically and skill-wise we’re doing enough to help him.”
The Wild felt compelled to extend Nate Prosser’s contract last week because by being a three-year pro who is older than 25 and who will have fewer than 80 games of service at season’s end, Prosser would have gone from a restricted to an unrestricted free agent. Winger Nick Johnson is in the same boat, but as long as he plays 20 more games, he’ll remain a restricted free agent.
As for the Wild’s potential unrestricted free agents, it’s believed the team has begun talking contract with Kyle Brodziak and Stoner.
SHAKING IT UP
Despite the success lately of the Dany Heatley-Brodziak-Johnson line, Yeo reunited Heatley and Devin Setoguchi with center Mikko Koivu, who returned after missing eight games because of a shoulder injury.
Erik Christensen moved from center to wing on the second line with center Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck. Yeo hoped the line would have a makeup similar to when Pierre-Marc Bouchard played there.
Speaking of concussed wingers Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse, Fletcher again said he’s not assuming either will return unless there’s a “stroke of good fortune.”
—The Wild is interested in Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu (293 points in 515 games), but General Manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday the price is “real high just based on the number of teams that are interested in him.” First, Rutherford will try to re-sign Ruutu.
—Henrik Sedin’s iron man streak reached 553 consecutive games when the Canucks captain played against the Wild despite an ankle injury. Only Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester has a longer current streak (560) in the NHL.
—Wild winger Jed Ortmeyer cleared waivers and was reassigned to the Houston Aeros.