The Wild will be without forward Luke Kunin for the rest of the season after Kunin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Sunday's game against the Red Wings.
Kunin is expected to undergo surgery on his knee in the coming weeks, with a return to action pegged at approximately seven months.
The 20-year-old was added to the Wild's roster just last Tuesday after the team recalled him from the American Hockey League to inject its playoff push with energy. He skated in just two games after appearing in 17 earlier in the season with the Wild, when he chipped in two goals and two assists.
In 36 games with Iowa, he scored 10 goals and finished with 19 points in his first full-length professional season after leaving the University of Wisconsin.
Kunin's absence leaves the Wild with 12 healthy forwards. He was injured late in the third period after getting hit. He was limping and did not return to the game.
“Got hit, came off and didn’t feel right,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Defenseman Nick Seeler was also missing from practice Monday after his heavyweight fight with Detroit’s Luke Witkowski helped spark the Wild to victory. There’s no concern about a concussion, Boudreau said, but the team wanted Seeler to take the day off and it’s hopeful he can suit up Tuesday when the team hosts the Hurricanes.
“He’s just sore,” Boudreau said. “He’s just sore all over, I think.”
Veterans Eric Staal, Matt Cullen and Daniel Winnik also weren’t on the ice, but all are fine.
It’s been a busy schedule for the Wild lately, with Tuesday’s tilt the team’s fourth in six days and eighth in 13 days – a stretch that’s included games out east and west.
“Rest is a weapon, and nowadays in March if we’re not in shape and game-ready, then we’re in bigger trouble than we think,” Boudreau said. “So rest is a weapon. We need these guys, especially with our over-30 crowd. We need them rested because they’re the guys that usually play the most.”
A return home, however, seems to have helped the Wild recalibrate after a pair of tough losses to the Coyotes and Avalanche – with the latter a 7-1 drubbing that the team was able to rebound from against the Red Wings.
“Sometimes when you get shellacked, you just gotta forget it,” Boudreau said. “If you dwell on it, it’s like a golfer. If you have a bad shot and you keep thinking about that bad shot, the next one’s going to be bad, too. You gotta let it go. We didn’t show any video or anything of that game. We just wanted to turn that page and get back to where we’ve been playing the last couple of months really well. I thought our first period was slow, but I thought our last two periods structure-wise, systems-wise, we did a great job.”