Return of Alex Goligoski means Wild finally at full strength

Don’t look now, but the Wild are about to be at full strength.

Blue liner Alex Goligoski practiced Wednesday for the first time since Oct. 16, when a Jonas Brodin snap shot got between his pads and broke a fibula during a practice in Montreal.

“Just hit the bone,” Goligoski said. “Just hit it perfect.”

The veteran former Gophers star was placed on long-term injury reserve and missed 15 games, joining Jared Spurgeon (13), Matt Boldy (7) and Freddy Gaudreau (7) as key players to miss several games already this season — one reason the Wild have stumbled out of the gate with a 5-8-4 record.

They’ll all back now — Gaudreau returned from a rib injury in a 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto in Sweden — and coach Dean Evason should have a full, healthy roster for Friday’s 7 p.m. home game against Colorado, a first this season.

“Well, looking at the board, it’s nice to not see anybody on the right side, on our injury side of our board,” Evason said after practice at TRIA Rink. “That’s certainly nice this morning, that we’ve got everybody, everybody’s skating.”

Goligoski, 38, said the injury didn’t require surgery and that he felt good after his first practice in more than a month.

“I’m a full practice player, so I’m ready to go for games whenever that may be,” he said.

Goligoski spent a lot of long days getting treatment and doing rehab work, but the worst part was watching the team struggle and not being able to help.

“You’re so far removed from everything, not traveling with the team, and not being in the room every game, and even practices,” he said. “So, yeah, it’s tough to watch, for sure. So, I’m excited to be back now.”

Cap distress

The Wild will be glad to put a career plus-60 defenseman in the lineup, but Goligoski’s return will require some roster moves — and with nobody on LTIR, the team will lose the salary cap relief it has been receiving, in varying amounts, all season.

Goligoski’s $2 million salary this season has been off the books since he was hurt. That money will be prorated by day — there are 186 in the NHL’s official calendar — but will still be more than the combined salaries of Dakota Mermis and Vinni Lettieri, who will have to be taken off the roster to make room.

Mermis already has cleared waivers and can be assigned to Iowa; Lettieri would have to be placed on waivers, and clear, as well, to be assigned back to Des Moines.

Even so, the Wild will be scraping the cap again. They began the season roughly $818,000 — just over the NHL minimum of $775,000 — under the $83.5 million cap, in large part because of $14.7 million in dead cap space, a penalty from the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts.


The Wild, Treasure Island Resort and Casino and the Prairie Island Indian Community have partnered to design a custom jersey for Native American Heritage month. The Wild will celebrate Minnesota’s Indian communities on Friday but because of new NHL guidelines, players will be unable to wear the jerseys on the ice. The jerseys, which can be seen at, will be auctioned off to benefit the Wild Foundation and American Indian Family Center starting Friday.

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