But the Wild really don’t want to be without him, and it appears they might have dodged a bullet Monday.
Kaprizov wasn’t on the ice for an hour-plus practice at TRIA Rink, and head coach Dean Evason said the Wild were leaning toward calling up an additional forward from Iowa before leaving late Monday for a weeklong trip to Sweden. Instead, the team recalled defenseman Daemon Hunt.
Evason said Monday was a “maintenance day” for Kaprizov, adding, “Just banged up a little bit.” But the fact that Minnesota recalled a defenseman instead of a forward seems to indicate the left wing will be ready to play against Ottawa on Saturday, and against Toronto on Sunday, in Stockholm.
Asked if Kaprizov’s injury has been a factor in the left wing’s performance, Evason said, “I don’t know. All our performances are affected a little bit right now, right?”
The Wild are 5-8-2 this season and have lost three straight games. On Sunday at Xcel Energy Center, they gave up a franchise-record five power-play goals — and two shorthanded goals — in their first Central Division matchup of the season.
The loss knocked them to within two points of last-place Chicago and Nashville, nine points behind first-place Dallas. Kaprizov’s 15 points are second on the Wild to Mats Zuccarello’s 16, and his four power-play goals are tied with Joel Eriksson Ek for the team lead.
But Kaprizov, the team’s leading goal-scorer since joining the Wild for the 2020-21 COVID season, also is a team-worst minus-11 — tied for sixth-worst in the NHL — and his 14 giveaways are tied for seventh most in the NHL, according to statmuse.com.
Wild players held a meeting after Sunday’s loss, and another before Monday’s practice. Center Ryan Hartman declined to get into specifics but said it was a positive for the team.
“Guys are taking responsibility for things,” he said. “Obviously, I want to keep most of what was said private. But it was a good meeting for us, I think.”
In its effort to pull the Wild out of their 2-5-1 skid, the coaching staff reshuffled some of its skaters for Monday’s practice.
Center Eriksson Ek was moved to the second line with Marcus Johansson and Matt Boldy, Hartman was centering Pat Maroon and Marcus Foligno on the third line. And if Petan was a place-holder for Kaprizov, Rossi would be on the top line with him and Zuccarello.
“Yeah, we wanted to have a look at it today,” Evason said. “That’s our plan, to go with what they were today.”
Asked if Merrill might slot back into the lineup this week, Evason said, “Yeah, we’re thinking about it.”
Duhaime was given a five-minute minor and game misconduct for boarding Stars blue liner Thomas Harley on Sunday, leading to a pair of Dallas power-play goals. Evason said the NHL told the Wild on Monday there will be no additional discipline for Duhaime. … Freddy Gaudreau (upper body) did not practice on Monday, indicating he won’t return to the lineup on this trip.