Duhaime seems to have edge over Rossi, Beckman as final Wild cuts near

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Most of the Wild's roster was solidified during the offseason, but not every seat in the lineup was taken.

The impressive display by the team's prospects has kept that final depth chart a mystery, sparking a very competitive training camp.

"We're going to have a tough decision," coach Dean Evason said. "We're going to speak to some people that aren't going to be here that are going to believe that they should probably be here and could be here."

Some cuts might be out of the Wild's control.

Winger Matt Boldy left Thursday's win against the Blackhawks in the third period after going down awkwardly in the corner and struggling to get off the ice. Boldy, who had been skating with Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau, was scheduled to undergo an MRI for a lower body injury Friday, but results weren't released.

"It's disappointing," Evason said. "Bolds was having a real good camp, but we'll work through it."

Defenseman Calen Addison also didn't practice Friday because of a lower-body injury, but Evason said Addison would have skated if it wasn't camp.

If those two aren't options, the Wild still has to subtract at least one more player to get to the 23-man roster limit by Monday's deadline. It's possible it will carry 22 players (one extra forward and defenseman) since that's been the trend in the past.

Top prospects still in camp include forwards Adam Beckman, Brandon Duhaime and Marco Rossi.

Based on line rushes during Friday's session, only Duhaime is poised to appear in the team's final preseason game Saturday at Chicago. He skated with Nico Sturm and Nick Bjugstad, while Beckman and Rossi were paired with Victor Rask. The Wild's top three units will suit up Saturday, Evason said, and that group that includes newcomer Rem Pitlick on a line with Fiala and Gaudreau.

"It is exciting for our organization to see the depth and the skill set and the maturity of these kids," Evason said. "They're pushing for spots ... there's still opportunities to make our hockey club even if it's not tomorrow. There's an opportunity to make our hockey club somewhere in the future.

"We've got a lot of people showing really well."

Beckman has been the Wild's goals leader in the preseason, with four in four games. His exhibition resume also includes a fight, a tussle with St. Louis' Nathan Walker on Wednesday that knocked Beckman out of the game briefly.

"We were down 3-0. We didn't have a great start," said Beckman, who received a few stitches on the bridge of his nose. "I'm not a big guy to fight like that. I decided maybe it was time and obviously didn't quite go the way I liked it to."

Despite his production, Beckman still identified areas in his game to clean up, like his puck work in the neutral zone, but he's been a spark plug for the Wild in camp.

"It's a job, but most guys in the room would say it's the best job in the world," said Beckman, who was drafted in the third round in 2019. "So, I just feel very fortunate to be here and getting this opportunity. That's kind of my personality, just try and be as positive as possible."

Rossi was also in Wednesday's lineup and Evason felt that was the center's best game of the preseason until the 2020 first round pick played again Thursday; then that became his best showing.

Like Beckman, Rossi would skate with Iowa in the American Hockey League if the Wild doesn't keep him on its roster.

"I feel really good out there," Rossi said, "and it feels amazing to be here."

Duhaime's inclusion in Saturday's lineup could indicate he's the front runner to make the team, a nod perhaps to his pro experience the last two seasons with Iowa but also his versatility.

"His speed is very disruptive," Evason said of the 2016 draft pick. "You can play him with anybody. He's going to give us opportunities. He's going to create because of that speed."

Overall, the performance by all the up-and-comers has been well-received by Wild brass and the team has stressed to players that just because someone isn't on the roster now doesn't mean that'll be the case later. Circumstances can change, whether by injury or trade, and the Wild will be keeping an eye on its pipeline.

"Just go about your business," is Evason's message. "We have to make decisions. That's our job. Your thought process is to just go play the game and see where it sits in the future here. We expect our guys to compete hard, but we're going to have some tough decisions to make."

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