The Minnesota Wild have recalled pugilist Kurtis Gabriel, and had him lining up on the team’s fourth line during morning skate Monday.
Gabriel is one of seven black aces joining the Wild following the conclusion of the Iowa Wild’s season Saturday. However, coach John Torchetti has Gabriel lining up on the team’s fourth line with Zac Dalpe and Chris Porter.
That would mean that both Jarret Stoll and Ryan Carter could find themselves as healthy scratches in a surprising move.
Stoll has had a lot of turnovers and hasn’t played great so far in the postseason. Carter has been ok, but has taken some bad penalties, including a 10-minutes misconduct for incitement in Game 2 after he bumped Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen on his way to the bench during a TV timeout.
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Playing Gabriel, a 2013 3rd round draft pick (81st overall), sends a very particular message. Gabriel hasn’t managed to create much offense in the AHL. He’s instead ranked fifth in fights (15) across the AHL, and understands what he brings to the lineup. He made his NHL debut earlier this year, and fought twice in three games.
“Hard-working kid, good on the walls, physical, likes to fight. The kind of player you like,” said Torchetti of Gabriel.
Offensively, he put up six goals and 10 points through 66 games for Iowa, where he played most of the season under Torchetti, until he took over the head coach job at the NHL level.
Gabriel’s inclusion would appear to be a call for the Wild to get physical against the Stars, who don’t play a particularly physical game, outside of agitator Antoine Roussel.
Additionally, Mike Reilly, who was recalled before the black aces, is unlikely to make his playoff debut Monday, after practicing as a fourth pairing with Christian Folin.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.