The Wild decided to give us a challenge with today's afternoon skate. All of the players—mostly veterans, with a few prospects thrown in—were wearing green, yellow, blue, grey, red or white jerseys with no numbers. The only certainty was blue=defense. From the pressbox, it was a "who's who?" guessing game at times.
Lemaire worked the players hard in the drills in his usual style, and as the practice went on, he appeared more and more frustrated, pointing and using his hands to show the players what they should be doing. After practice, he didn't appear much happier, commenting that the players wanted to be at home while he was trying to run his usual practice.
The prospects who were chosen for the afternoon practice seemed to fit in fairly well. GM Doug Risebrough was pleased with the prospects in training camp so far, although their high-quality performance means that the Wild's original plan of cutting down to around 30 guys today has been changed to the mid-40s instead.
“Aside from the NHL guys, Kolanos has probably shown us that he's had a good camp. He's shown consistency throughout the last three days. Mojzis I thought had a good camp. Kalus has played well, Hamilton has played well, Irmen has played well. I've been excited to see our prospects, our draft picks from last year, Cuma and Scandella develop and see how they've competed,” Risebrough said. “We've asked them to get noticed and they all got noticed.”
Thomas Mojzis, newly nicknamed “MoJo” by the press observing camp, seems to have a real chance at a spot on the Wild roster. Based on how Krys Kolanos continues to perform, he may begin the season on the Wild roster as well. Colton Gillies will be a nice addition to the checking line, and Danny Irmen may see some NHL time as a defensive forward as well.
During the playoffs last year, Lemaire said the Erik Reitz was not ready to make the jump to the NHL. When asked about that yesterday, he was quick to say that Reitz had performed well in the postseason, and that Reitz is more than ready.
Despite what I said earlier about not being certain Petr Kalus will crack the lineup, Risebrough seemed pleased with his performance so far. On a team that may prove to be thin offensively, it is very realistic for Kalus to see some NHL ice time.
So tomorrow's starting lines against Columbus will be:
(Thanks to Michael Russo of Russo's Rants)
The team headed home to Minneapolis this afternoon, and so I will refer you to Brad Ratgen's blog over at HockeyBuzz.com for the details on the rest of training camp.