After assigning 10 players to the minors on Monday morning, the Wild appear to have their taxi squad set.
While the group could change in the coming days, as of right now it consists of forwards Gerry Mayhew, Luke Johnson and Kyle Rau; defensemen Louie Belpedio and Dakota Mermis, and goaltender Andrew Hammond.
Those six players will skate independent of the team on most days, according to coach Dean Evason, and will skate with the team during optional practices. That has more to do with maintaining the flow of practice than anything else.
“It’s nice to have that workable number for practice,” Evason said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t bounce people back and forth or have people come into our main group.”
Different factors went into the decision of which players to include on the taxi squad, with the most important being how well each player performed in training camp.
“They earned an opportunity to be in our taxi squad,” Evason said. “We had a very competitive training camp. We were really excited about it and could’ve went in a couple of different directions. It wasn’t just having people that have experience. Positionally, we wanted to structure our taxi squad to be prepared if any position was needed.”
There are pros and cons to a player being on the taxi squad. They get the experience of working out with the NHL roster and obviously have to be ready to step into a game at a moment’s notice. But they don’t get to compete in actual games as often as someone playing for the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.
Because of that, Evason noted the Wild wouldn’t be opposed to rotating which players are on the taxi squad and which players are in the minors.
“We don’t want an individual sitting and practicing the entire season and not playing a hockey game,” the coach said. “There is a benefit of being up here and practicing with the NHL group and being around the NHL atmosphere. There’s also a huge benefit to playing hockey. We are going to deal with it kind of literally day by day, and hopefully make the right decisions to have everybody fresh and ready to go.”
Players assigned to the minors on Monday were forwards Mitchell Chaffee, Joseph Cramarossa, Connor Dewar, Brandon Duhaime, Gabriel Dumont and Mason Shaw; defensemen Calen Addison and Ian McCoshen, and goaltenders Dereck Baribeau and Hunter Jones.