The way Nate Prosser viewed things, he wasn’t fighting to capture a roster spot in training camp.
The Wild defenseman considered himself part of the team until someone took that place away from him — and it was his job to make sure that didn’t happen.
Prosser fulfilled his mission, surviving the final cuts Tuesday as the Wild announced its roster for Thursday’s season opener at Colorado.
The team reduced its defensive corps to seven players, placing Gustav Olofsson on waivers and assigning Ryan Murphy to its AHL affiliate in Iowa. The Wild also put forward Luke Kunin, who is progressing well after knee surgery last spring, on injured reserve.
The NHL required teams to pare their rosters to a maximum of 23 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Murphy was waived Monday and went unclaimed. Olofsson has been medically cleared to play after injuring a shoulder during the first preseason game, allowing the Wild to place him on waivers. He’s on the 23-man roster until he clears waivers Wednesday, when he could be assigned to Iowa.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said he wants both Murphy and Olofsson to play regularly, rather than be the extra defenseman who could be scratched for long stretches. Prosser has built a career on thriving in spot duty, which was the deciding factor.
“We think [Murphy] is really good,’’ Boudreau said after Tuesday’s practice at TRIA Rink. “But to sit out seven, eight, nine games in a row isn’t what we want a guy of his ilk doing.
“It’s better for him to play. Prosser can come in and he can play, [even after] missing a lot of games. He doesn’t seem to miss a beat, for whatever reason.’’
Prosser, 32, played 57 games last season, the second-highest total of his career.
“In my mind, coming into camp, it was my spot,’’ the Elk River native said. “I wanted to come in and prove it and take that spot again.
“I felt good about my game all last year and had a good camp. Now I’m ready for October.’’
Kunin close to return
Though he has not been fully cleared to play, Kunin went all-out in a hard-hitting, fast-paced practice session Tuesday. He teamed up on the fourth line with Marcus Foligno, Matt Hendricks and J.T. Brown in what Boudreau called his “first real practice’’ of training camp.
Kunin had surgery in April for a torn left ACL. He expects to learn more about his status after another medical checkup later this week, but he said he feels ready to go.
“The last few skates, I’ve been doing pretty much everything with the team,’’ Kunin said. “It’s great to feel like I’m a part of it again.
“Once I get the go-ahead to do everything, I’ll get a couple of good hard weeks of practice in. When everyone thinks it’s OK to go, I’ll go. I want to play. I’m champing at the bit here. But I understand the process.’’
Kunin said he doesn’t like watching hockey, and Boudreau plans to make sure he isn’t idle once he is cleared. The coach reiterated Tuesday that Kunin will start his season in Iowa to ensure he gets plenty of playing time.
“That’s the thing we need him to do,’’ Boudreau said. “When he had time and space [in Tuesday’s practice], he made good plays. He’s still a little antsy with the puck sometimes, but that comes when you haven’t been practicing.’’
• Forward Jordan Greenway did not practice Tuesday. Boudreau said Greenway has a cold and was told not to come to the rink to avoid spreading germs. He is expected to practice Wednesday, and Boudreau said he is “100 percent’’ certain that Greenway will be in the opening-night lineup Thursday.
• Boudreau was irked that only one member of an nhl.com panel predicted the Wild will make the playoffs this season. The website released the picks of 18 contributors Sunday. The only one to include the Wild was staff writer Tom Gulitti, who predicted the Wild would be the second Western Conference wild-card team.
“I use it for motivation,’’ Boudreau said. “I don’t know if the players really care what they think. I’ve always been a guy that if you tell me I can’t do something, I want to do it.’’