It’s big news for Wild winger Duhaime as he makes NHL for first time

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Wild General Manager Bill Guerin delivered the news to Brandon Duhaime. Then Duhaime called his mom, Martine, to tell her.

The message being shared in this game of telephone?

That the 24-year-old winger had made the team.

"She was pretty ecstatic to find out," Duhaime said.

Two forward spots were up for grabs at Wild training camp and, after Rem Pitlick claimed one of them when he was picked up off waivers last week, Duhaime filled in the last blank up front on Saturday when the team cut the prospects left at camp and solidified its opening-night roster.

"I think I was just taking steps in the right direction every year," said Duhaime, who will wear No. 21. "Just doing what I needed to do, whether it was in the weight room or on the ice, just taking care of myself and keep progressing forward. My past two years pro, I think, were definitely steps in the right direction in my development."

Duhaime outlasted recent draft picks such as Adam Beckman and Marco Rossi in camp, and Matt Boldy dropped out of contention after fracturing his left ankle last Thursday.

Beckman and Rossi will begin the season in the American Hockey League with Iowa, and that's how Duhaime got his professional start.

After getting drafted in the fourth round by the Wild in 2016, the winger went on to play three seasons at Providence College before joining Iowa. There, he established a pro style and worked on his penalty killing. The six goals he scored last season in 24 games is the same number he totaled in 63 games as a rookie.

"His development process has been exactly what we're talking about," Guerin said. "He's a mid-round pick. He went to college. He developed there. He came and played in Iowa for a couple years, and he just keeps getting better and he keeps developing and that's it.

"It doesn't happen overnight for a lot of guys, so just the fact that he went through the process and just kept working and working and working and now he finds himself here."

What Duhaime will bring to the Wild is grit and speed.

His quickness, in particular, impressed Wild brass in camp, and it's an attribute the winger concentrates on in the offseason where he's done with weightlifting, ladder exercises and power skating.

"Every summer it's been the No. 1 thing I've worked on, putting in extra time on the leg stuff, the explosiveness, the speed work," said Duhaime, who is from Florida and signed a two-year contract in July. "That's always the biggest thing for me in the summertime."

Lately, Duhaime has been practicing with Nico Sturm and Nick Bjugstad on the Wild's fourth line and Duhaime has familiarity with Sturm.

They played together in 2015-16 for Tri-City in the USHL, a season that culminated in the Clark Cup Championship.

"He's super fast," Sturm said. "He probably plays a similar game to how I play. So, I think it'd be a good fit."

Next up for Duhaime is bonding with his teammates during the Wild's getaway to Duluth.

By Friday, he could be making his NHL debut when the Wild opens the season at Anaheim.

If that's the case, his parents, sister and girlfriend will be there.

"Now I'm here," Duhaime said, "so just want to keep moving forward."

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