Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — With the Wild so close to the $75 million salary cap, they did their part to free up some space Sunday morning, Feb. 25, by placing well-liked winger Chris Stewart on waivers. Stewart has 13 points (9 goals, 4 assists) in 47 games this season while spending most of his time on the fourth line. That said, he had fallen out of the rotation as of late, serving as a healthy scratch 12 times this calendar year.
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.
NEW YORK — Playing in Madison Square Garden against the team that once told him he was too old to play in the NHL, Eric Staal was ready to show the New York Rangers in person Friday that he still has a lot left in the tank. Staal has been a godsend for the Wild since signing a three-year, $10.5 million contract on July 1, 2016, and scored empty-net goal in Thursday's 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils to push his career points total to 900.
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 — Wild rookie Nick Seeler has gotten an influx of text messages over the past week, his minor-league buddies living vicariously through him as he continues to live out his dream at the next level. "That's a good group of guys down there," Seeler said of his former teammates with the Iowa Wild. "So, I expected nothing less from them."
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.
ST. PAUL—With only 20 minutes separating the Minnesota Wild from building a three-point cushion over the Anaheim Ducks for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race, they let the lead slip away and ultimately fell 3-2 Saturday, Feb. 17, to on the heels of the longest shootout in franchise history. After 11 rounds and 22 shooters, Ducks winger Nick Ritchie finally beat Devan Dubnyk to hand the Wild their second consecutive loss at the Xcel Energy Center. Not that anyone would know based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction postgame.
ST. PAUL—While most of the Minnesota Wild players gathered in the locker room for a pregame meeting Thursday morning, backup goaltender Alex Stalock was still out on the ice, dripping in sweat as he blocked one shot after another until goaltending coach Bob Mason finally made him call it quits. "He's a worker," Mason said of the Wild's backup goaltender. "He goes out early. He stays out late. He does all these little things to keep his game as sharp as he can. He's been a backup in this league, so he knows how to handle situations like this."