Injured winger Nino Niederreiter didn’t accompany the Wild to Columbus Monday where the team practiced for the first time since the All-Star break, but it’s possible Niederreiter returns to the lineup Friday at home against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“Hopefully they give him the OK to play and if he does get it, we’ll certainly put him in,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Niederreiter, who’s out with a lower-body injury, hasn’t played since Jan.6, which was his second game back after missing five with a left ankle issue. The plan is for Niederreiter to practice Wednesday with the Wild, and then the team will evaluate his status. In the meantime, he’s skating on his own Monday and Tuesday.
Center Eric Staal, who skated in the All-Star Game over the weekend, was also absent from Monday’s session, as his charter had mechanical issues, Boudreau said. He was scheduled to arrive in Columbus Monday night.
Forward Joel Eriksson Ek rejoined the team after getting recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League earlier in the day. He skated alongside wingers Daniel Winnik and Chris Stewart.
Captain Mikko Koivu and wingers Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund remained united, while the fourth line included wingers Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis along with center Matt Cullen. Wingers Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle worked together in Staal’s absence.
The vibe during the team’s tune-up for Tuesday’s matchup against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena was upbeat, but the work in some drills wasn’t as sharp as it’s been in the past.
“Energy was good,” Boudreau said. “Execution wasn’t as good as coming off the bye week.”