Wild prospect Marco Rossi is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. That explains why he still hasn’t be cleared to skate despite recently completing his mandatory quarantine after arriving in the Twin Cities from the World Junior Championships.
It’s unclear how much time Rossi will miss, and coach Dean Evason offered little clarity on Sunday morning when prodded for more information. “They tell me he’s unavailable,” Evason said. “He’s unavailable for me.”
It’s a tough blow for Rossi, who captained Team Austria at the World Junior Championships and was expected to be given every chance to make the Wild this season. He was selected by the Wild the first round of the 2020 draft and was widely regarded as the most pro-ready prospect outside of No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere.
Will the Wild change course now that he’s sidelined indefinitely? That remains to be seen.
In theory, if Rossi can return at some point this season, he can play a maximum six games before the Wild have to decide whether to burn the first year of his entry-level contract. He led the Ontario Hockey League in scoring last season, scoring 39 goals and tallying 81 assists in 56 games for the Ottawa 67s.
Needless to say, the Wild are hoping that type of production translates at the next level.
Many in the organization think Rossi has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 center at some point in his career. That might just take a little longer than expected with this recent upper-body injury.
Final tune up
The next time the Wild compete in a game will be in Thursday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Kings. They better hope the couple of scrimmages they played over the weekend were enough to get them ready.
Asked what he was hoping to gain from the scrimmages, Evason emphasized that it had everything to do with getting his players in game shape. As hard as the Wild practice, there’s a completely different feel during a game.
That’s why Sunday’s scrimmage was a full 60 minutes with teams split evenly down the middle.
In the end, Team White prevailed with a 2-1 win over Team Green in a game that finished with some intensity after starting rather slow. Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin were the goal scorers for Team White and Nick Bjugstad was the lone goal scorer for Team Green.
“We liked the progression from what we did the other night to tonight having a full game,” Evason said. “I thought the guys responded extremely well and look good to go. You’d always like to have a little more time but we’re very happy with where we’re at.”
Mats Zuccarello is getting closer and closer to returning to the lineup after having arm surgery this offseason
He skated with the team on Sunday morning, proving he’s capable of going up and down with his teammates. He also wore a non-contact jersey, proving he’s still got a couple of hurdles to clear before he’s back for good.
When can the Wild expect him back in the mix?
“When the trainers tell us a guy is ready then he’s ready,” Evason said. “There’s steps obviously of practicing with a different color jersey as we see with Zucy and we’ll see there will be a step when he gets into a regular jersey. Then the next step is when to play him.”