Returning home after four road losses, the Minnesota Wild might be getting healthier.
Minnesota reassigned defenseman Jonathon Blum and forward Stephane Veilleux to the American Hockey League on Wednesday, perhaps a sign some of the team’s group of injured players will be ready to return to the lineup when the Wild host Buffalo on Thursday night.
Minnesota has been without forward Zach Parise and defenseman Jared Spurgeon the past four games. Both players have returned to practice, but their availability for Thursday is uncertain.
"I would say that Zach is doubtful," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said after Wednesday’s practice. "And Spurg, we’ll see how he is after practice. A little bit more hopeful that he can return."
Yeo said Parise, the team’s leading scorer with 10 points, hasn’t suffered a setback as he deals with a concussion, but the team is being cautious with Parise.
"We just have to be smart about it," Yeo said. "Obviously we are anxiously awaiting his return. We know what he adds and will bring to our lineup. But you have to think of the big picture here and we have to make sure when we’re getting him back, we’re keeping him back for good and follow the right protocol as far as making sure we’re protecting the player here."
Defenseman Keith Ballard recently returned to the lineup after an illness, while forward Matt Cooke (lower body) is still out.
Blum was scoreless with two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating in one game for Minnesota since being recalled Nov. 1. Veilleux was scoreless with eight penalty minutes and an even rating in five games since being recalled on Oct. 30.
Bickel, Schroeder recalled: On Wednesday evening Minnesota recalled defenseman Stu Bickel and forward Jordan Schroeder from Iowa. Bickel, 28, has totaled three assists and led Iowa with 30 penalty minutes in nine games this season. The Chanhassen, Minn., native totaled five blocked shots in five preseason games with Minnesota earlier in 2014. Schroeder, 24, leads Iowa in points (11), assists (7) and shots (37) in 12 games this season; the Prior Lake, Minn., native has totaled 15 points in 56 career NHL games, during parts of two seasons spent with Vancouver.
Both former Minnesota Gophers, Bickel and Schroeder will become the 19th and 20th Minnesotans to skate with the Wild in franchise history if they appear in a game with the Wild.