Wild lose Joel Eriksson Ek at a bad time, again

Last year around this time, the Wild lost Joel Eriksson Ek at the worst possible time, and while Minnesota is expecting him back before the regular season ends, the team will play at least two more games without their top line center.

The team’s second-leading scorer with 29 goals and 60 points, Eriksson Ek missed the Wild past two games and didn’t travel to Southern California for back-to-backs against Anaheim on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“He’s rehabbing, and getting treatments, things like that,” coach John Hynes told reporters after a practice Monday afternoon at the Ducks’ Honda Center. “So, I think it’s probably more beneficial for him to do it there, have more time, and more facilities than you do sometimes on the road.”

Last year, Eriksson Ek suffered a broken fibula when he blocked a shot in an April 6 game against Pittsburgh and missed all but one aborted shift in a first-round playoff series against Dallas. The Wild lost in six games.

This year, Minnesota is fighting for a postseason spot as the regular season winds down, and will do it without Eriksson Ek at least until Saturday’s afternoon game against St. Louis at Xcel Energy Center. Eriksson Ek, who left a 4-1 victory over Arizona in March 12 with a lower body injury, is tied with Kirill Kaprizov with a team-high 12 power play goals, leads the team in faceoff percentage (49.4) and is a top-unit penalty killer.

After Saturday’s game against the Blues, the Wild have four days off before playing host to San Jose next Thursday.

“Whether it is Saturday, that’s a possibility, (but) I’m not sure,” Hynes told reporters who traveled to Anaheim. “But if it’s not, I would assume after that, with a little bit of that four days in between games that we have, the schedule certainly lends itself to (that).”

Specials practice

With Eriksson Ek out, the Wild included rookie center Marat Khusnutdinov in both special teams units during practice on Monday.

Khusnutdinov, 21, has played in just two games since signing an entry-level contract on Feb. 29. He has no points and a zero plus/minus in a combined 21:15 of ice time, with only 9 seconds of power play time on special teams.

“He is a penalty killer, (but) we didn’t really have a chance to practice it with him with all the 5-on-5 stuff and everything, plus a little power play,” Hynes told reporters. “Today was a good day to give him some reps on the penalty kill, plus the power play, just to get a feel for him.”


— Adam Beckman appears set to return to the lineup on Tuesday. A third-round pick in the 2019 entry draft, Beckman, 22, has played in 15 NHL games over parts of the past three seasons. He was recalled on March 7 and has been a healthy scratch the past three games. “It wasn’t a thing where he came out because of something we don’t like, and he knows that,” Hynes said, “and we’ll look to give him another opportunity tomorrow.”

— The Wild signed 2023 second-round pick forward Rasmus Kumpulainen, 18, to a three-year, entry-level contract starting next season. In 53 games with major junior Oshawa of the OHL, Kumpulainen (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) had 27 goals and 53 points. He led the Generals with 10 power-play goals, and scored a pair of goals in seven games with Finland in the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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