The Minnesota Wild got news on two injured players Tuesday.
The team announced that rookie center Tyler Graovac “underwent successful bilateral core muscle repair surgery.” He’s expected to miss six weeks of play and has been out since sustaining an injury in the season’s opening game.
The other news was on underrated depth winger Justin Fontaine, who took a knee-on-knee hit from Chicago’s Andrew Desjardins on October 30 that sent him immediately off the ice. Fontaine is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained MCL.
The loss of Graovac and Fontaine is not insignificant to the Wild, who have started the season strong. Their top line, aside from Zach Parise, has struggled to produce, while the Mikko Koivu centered second line has been nearly unstoppable. The loss of two depth forwards with offensive upside, one a center who can play wing, limits the team’s ability to adjust the lineup to get that top line — read: Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund — going.
Graovac’s injury in particular throws a wrench in things with Charlie Coyle playing very well right now. He was a wing on Graovac’s line in the season’s opening game. If Graovac is at center, that allows coach Mike Yeo to move Coyle, but with Graovac out and the team thin at center depth, Coyle is all but cemented as the team’s third line center.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.