Wild prospects Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi called up to give team ‘an energy boost’
Both players are in line to make their NHL debuts on Thursday night in a road game against the Boston Bruins.
Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together. Isn’t that how the saying goes?
That’s how the Minnesota Wild are operating as adversity continues to mount during a five-game losing streak.
With captain Jared Spurgeon (lower-body injury), top center Joel Eriksson Ek (upper-body injury), No. 1 goalie Cam Talbot (lower-body injury), and hulking winger Jordan Greenway (COVID protocol) all out of the lineup, the Wild have reached into the minor leagues for reinforcements.
Yes, at long last, top prospects Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi are coming up to the big team.
“Things haven’t gone well obviously as of late, and we thought as a group that we needed an energy boost somehow,” coach Dean Evason said. “We liked our business-like attitude the last two days, and getting some new blood in there feels real good.”
Both players are in line to make their NHL debuts on Thursday night against the Bruins in Boston.
It’s a storybook beginning for Boldy, who grew up in Millis, Mass., about an hour from TD Garden in Boston. He played collegiately at Boston College before turning pro last season.
“It’ll be awesome,” said Boldy, who grew up a Bruins fan and is expecting a long list of family and friends in the crowd for his debut. “I think my parents are more excited for it than I am.”
There’s a chance Boldy, 20, would have already made his NHL debut had he not suffered a broken ankle late in the preseason. That sidelined the No. 12 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft for a couple of months. He then suffered a completely different injury that kept him out for almost a month. He has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 10 games with the Iowa Wild this season.
“It’s unlucky,” Boldy said. “I don’t think it was anything that I was doing that was causing these injuries. It was just kind of freak accidents. Looking at it that way. Hopefully get the injuries out of the way early and that’ll be the end of them.”
This is also a big moment for Rossi, 20, after everything he has been through over the past year.
After testing positive for COVID in November 2020, he was later diagnosed with myocarditis, a medical term used to described an inflammation of the heart. That started the scariest year of his life as the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft couldn’t even go for a walk without his heart rate spiking to 110 beats per minute.
Fortunately for Rossi, he was cleared to play ahead of Wild training camp this season. He pushed hard for a roster spot before being reassigned to the minors. He has 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists) in 21 games for Iowa this season.
“I trust the process 100 percent,” said Rossi, whose parents will be in attendance for his NHL debut. “I wasn’t waiting around for (the call-up) because if I was always waiting and looking at my phone, then it would take a long time. I wasn’t really thinking about Minnesota; I was just thinking Iowa. That’s the best thing to do.”
Asked how he plans to approach his NHL debut, Rossi said he will try to keep it simple. He knows he has what it takes to succeed at the next level.
“Just try to play my game,” he said. “I want to show them that I earned this spot.”
The most interesting thing to come out of Tuesday’s practice at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul was seeing Rossi get a look on the No. 1 power-play unit, with Boldy playing on the No. 2 power-play unit. It’s not often a rookie gets that type of opportunity in his NHL debut.
Why are Boldy and Rossi playing in those spots?
“Because our power play has sucked,” Evason said. “They are power-play guys, so they should be put in that position to have success. We’re not putting them there just to see if they can play. We’re putting them there to score goals.”
Will both Boldy and Rossi be given an opportunity to stick with the big team long term?
“They are going to get an opportunity to play two nights from now in Boston,” Evason said. “We’ll see where we go from there.”
While there are a lot of things up in the air, if anything is certain, it’s that Boldy and Rossi are sure to bring the Wild some energy during their NHL debuts.
“We’re looking forward to having them in there,” Evason said. “We’re not expecting them to lead our hockey club into the promise land. But we do want them to come in and do exactly how the Minnesota Wild play — with grit, determination, heart and skill.”
— After calling up Boldy and Rossi on Tuesday, the Wild placed veteran winger Victor Rask on waivers after practice. If he clears, he will be reassigned to either the taxi squad or the minors. In a separate move, the Wild signed goaltender Zane McIntyre to a two-way contract for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. This type of move was expected after starter Cam Talbot suffered a lower-body injury in the Winter Classic.