Minnesota Wild rookie center Tyler Graovac celebrated virtually with his family, who had sent him champagne, before the Wild’s opening night. They were celebrating because the 6-foot-5 center, who led the Iowa Wild in scoring last season, had made the opening night roster.
But an opening night injury has derailed the season.
He hasn’t played since that first game and though he returned to the ice on Thursday, the Star Tribune’s Rachel Blount reports that Graovac only skated for a while before needing to leave the ice prematurely.
Coach Mike Yeo wasn’t sure why Graovac left early — soreness or if something had been aggravated — but he said, “It shows that he’s not near close to being back in the lineup for us.”
That’s too bad for the rookie and the Wild, who looked well-rounded with him as the team’s third line center, moving Charlie Coyle to the wing on the third line and infusing the fourth line with a lot of speed and skill with a player like Justin Fontaine slotting in down there with Erik Haula and Ryan Carter.
For now, it looks like the team will have to wait to adjust to life with Graovac in the lineup, including that he may need a conditioning stint in Iowa after missing this much time.
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.