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MONTREAL — As speculation grows about the status of Russian NHLers and their ability to return for next season, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league probably doesn't have the "full story" on players' relationship with the Russian government.

"We're going to have to respect the process as to what goes on," Bettman said Thursday at Bell Centre in Montreal before the draft.

Uncertainty, in particular, has swirled around the Wild's Kirill Kaprizov at a time when the war in Ukraine continues.

Kaprizov's whereabouts were speculated about after a report out of Russia said the star forward returned to the United States in the aftermath of Flyers prospect Ivan Fedotov getting taken to a military base in Russia because his name was linked to fraudulent military identification.

Wild General Manager Bill Guerin denied that report earlier in the week, telling reporters Kaprizov was in Russia with friends and family and "doing fine." On Thursday, Guerin had no new information on Kaprizov and Bettman said it probably wasn't a good idea for the NHL or its teams to get involved in the politics of what's happening in Russia.

"The Russian players that still reside in Russia need to make sure they're making the best possible decisions for themselves and their families," Bettman said.

There were 56 Russian players in the NHL this season.

On the mend

The Wild might not be at full strength when the season starts.

After undergoing undisclosed surgeries, Jordan Greenway and Jon Merrill are on the mend but Guerin acknowledged the two are in jeopardy of not being available when the Wild begins playing. The team's first game is Oct. 13 vs. the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center.

Last season, Greenway had 10 goals and 17 assists while filling out the Wild's best matchup line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. The winger signed a three-year, $9 million extension in-season.

Merrill also re-upped, landing a three-year, $3.6 million deal while in his first season with the Wild; he totaled four goals and 16 assists before getting hurt playing for the United States at the World Championship in May.

Asked if this situation affects his offseason maneuvering, Guerin said, "Not really, no.

"They'll be back soon enough, and I think we've got the bodies that we can get by."

Contract, then wedding

July is shaping up to be a memorable month for Jake Middleton.

Not only did he secure a new contract with the Wild, but the 26-year-old defenseman is also planning a "shotgun wedding" with his fiancée, Natalie, next weekend during a family trip to Nashville.

"We've been together 10 years," said Middleton, who has set up at teammate's Alex Goligoski's Minneapolis house for the summer. "So we figured it was a good time with both our families around to tie the knot."

When he returns for the season, Middleton could find himself reuniting with the same blue line that closed out last season since all seven regulars are now under contract.

"It's an asset, absolutely," he said. "All of us played well together. It looks like everyone's got a partner they're comfortable with and even with the seven guys, it's a seamless fit for anyone that jumps in and out of the lineup, whether it's injuries or scratches.

"We all got a great camaraderie on the back end, and we all do it together. We know not one guy is going to go right the ship themselves."