After finally getting healthy last month, the Wild remained at full strength for only two games before another injury sapped the group.
But it sounds like the team could have everyone available Friday against the Golden Knights, as winger Nino Niederreiter appears to be on the brink of a return.
“He’s looking good,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Unless something changes, he’ll probably play.”
Niederreiter has missed the past eight games with a left ankle bone bruise, an issue that also cost him five games at the end of December and early January.
“It should give us more variety in the top three lines to be able to move people around and balance it out a little better,” Boudreau said about Niederreiter’s eventual addition. “I think that’s the big thing.”
During practice Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, Niederreiter skated alongside center Eric Staal and winger Tyler Ennis.
If he plays Friday, that won’t be the only lineup change for the Wild.
Boudreau said defenseman Mike Reilly will be back on the blue line after being a healthy scratch for the past six games while Gustav Olofsson has slotted into that sixth defensive spot.
“He’s a pretty good defensive player,” Boudreau said of Olofsson. “He can skate well. He reminds you, I would think, of a young Jonas Brodin in a lot of ways. He’s got a good stick, so those things are all positive. And for the most part, we’ve had some success with him in the lineup. Sometimes you just don’t want to change a lot when you’re having success.
“But at this stage … I think it’s time for [Reilly] to get another opportunity.”
Asked if he envisioned one of the two being moved out before the trade deadline later this month, Boudreau said nothing has been mentioned at this point.
“You need a seventh ‘D’ anyways,” he said. “So somebody’s going to sit somewhere. You can go down through every team, someone’s sitting for a length of time. Unfortunately, the only difference is you don’t like it to be a young guy.”