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NHL Notebook: Ryan Reaves’ impact on the Minnesota Wild, Nathan MacKinnon suffers upper-body injury, and more

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Photo credit:Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild are playing all three of their meetings within the span of roughly two weeks.
The Wild beat the Oilers last week by a score of 5-3 in Minnesota in the second game of what’s now become a season-high four-game winning streak. The Oilers will host the Wild in Edmonton on Friday and then they’ll hit the road to play in Minnesota on Monday.
Over at Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna talked about the impact that the newly-acquired Ryan Reaves is having on the team…
Seravalli: “How about the Minnesota Wild? They had a bit of a sluggish start to the season but they’ve since won four in a row and I wonder how much of it has to do with the addition of Ryan Reaves.
You heard general manager Bill Guerin speak about it when they made the trade, sending just a 2025 fifth-round pick to the New York Rangers a couple of weeks ago, and the idea was that Reaves would add toughness and swagger and energy that the team so desperately needs.
He’s got three points in five games as a member of the Wild and the team is 4-1-0 in that stretch. Is it the Reaves addition, or are the Wild finally turning the corner as a whole?”
McKenna: “Reaves makes a difference, there’s no doubt about it. Have you heard the way he fires this team up?”
Seravalli: “It’s supposed to be fun, isn’t that the point? Every day in the NHL is a privilege and players like Reaves recognize that. Let’s have as much fun as we can and enjoy this instead of being all tense and nervous.
It just goes to show you, having a general manager like Guerin who’s played before and was somewhat recently removed from the game, they just have a sense of these things in the locker room as they spend time around the team, a little move like that can help the team turn the corner.”
The Wild went 53-22-7 last season but had to subtract from their roster in the off-season because the buyout penalties of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter jumped significantly. The big cost-saving move that the Wild made came when they traded agent Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings for a first-round pick and prospect Brock Faber.
While taking a bit of a step back following the loss of an 85-point player isn’t surprising, the Wild didn’t look anywhere near the 113-point team they were last year through the first month and a bit of play this season. It seems now that they’ve found their groove, as they’ve won six of seven games and now own a 13-9-2 record and sit third in the Central Division.
Part of Minnesota’s turnaround can also likely be chalked up to them having a seven-game homestand after a stretch in which they played nine of 12 games on the road but there’s also merit to the idea that Reaves has made an impact on the team as well. Having a player like Reaves in the mix won’t suddenly make a bad team good but that energy and swagger can certainly help pull a skilled team out of a funk.
The Oilers could use a lot of things right now, including depth forwards who can score goals and defencemen who can consistently make tape-to-tape breakout passes, but it isn’t easy to patch those holes in December. This isn’t news.
Maybe they missed the boat on adding a high-energy player who can get his teammates fired up for a game at a pretty low cost. Maybe Reaves wouldn’t make a difference for this team. Who knows. But when a non-playoff team rolls into town on the fifth game of a road trip and put up 50 shots on goal, it’s difficult to ignore the lack of energy.

Other notes…

  • Nathan MacKinnon suffered an upper-body injury in the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. On Tuesday, Avs head coach Jared Bednar said that the team knows MacKinnon is going to miss some time but they just don’t know how much yet. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions have a 13-9-1 record this season and are already navigating injuries to Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, and Bowen Byram, among others.
  • It looks like Brock Boeser’s days in Vancouver are numbered. Elliotte Friedman reported that Canucks have granted Boeser’s agent permission to seek a trade on Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun then added on Monday that Boeser’s agent has already spoken to a “half-dozen teams” about a trade. Boeser inked a three-year, $19.95 million deal with the Canucks back in July but it seems the relationship between the team and player has soured.

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