Iowa’s prime purpose scorer makes NHL debut for Wild

MONTREAL— Mitch Chaffee hadn’t played on the same team as Brandon Duhame and Connor Dewar since last year when all three were together in the minors, but their meeting on Tuesday didn’t happen with Iowa.

Chaffee joined the Wild to make his NHL debut against the Canadiens at Bell Centre.

“It’s exciting,” said Chaffee, who skated alongside his two former Iowa teammates. “You dream of this day. I’m finally excited it’s here.”

With the Wild down a forward after Marcus Foligno went on the COVID list, the team elevated Chaffee from the American Hockey League amid an impressive stretch by the forward.

During his past 11 games, he racked up nine goals and four assists. Overall, the Michigan native leads Iowa in goals with 22 and ranks fourth in scoring at 37 points. Chaffee, who wore No. 63, is the eighth player to log his first NHL game with the Wild this season and 96th all time.

“Obviously, he’s put up some numbers down there,” coach Dean Evason said. “But he’s played a two-way game.”

This is Chaffee’s second pro season.

He signed with the Wild out of the University of Massachusetts in March 2020. The 24-year-old wasn’t expecting his family to make it to Montreal, “but I’m sure they’ll be watching at home,” he said .

500 for Deslauriers

Nic Deslauriers skated in his 500th career game, a significant milestone after a unique journey to the NHL for the 31-year-old winger.

“Never give up,” Deslauriers said. “That’s for sure.”

Drafted in the third round by Los Angeles in 2009 as a defenseman, Deslauriers switched to forward as a minor leaguer after filling in up front when the team was missing a few players.

“I didn’t know where my career was going at that point,” Deslauriers recalled. “You’re in the American League and you’re top-four ‘D’ to going back on the fourth line and not knowing really what to do. It just clicked.”

Deslauriers produced in his new role, putting up 18 goals and 21 assists in the minors before the Kings traded him to the Sabers in 2014, and he remained at forward with Buffalo.

“Found my way to be that fourth-line guy, and this is where I want to be,” said Deslauriers, who is on the brink of his first playoffs after the Wild acquired him from Anaheim on March 19 for a 2023 third-round draft pick. “This is what I set my career up to, to be a guy that can maybe play in the playoffs and prove that I’m a playoff guy.”

injury update

Tyson Josh accompanied the Wild to Montreal and skated Tuesday morning for the first time since he suffered a lower-body injury last Saturday at St. Louis, but the winger remained out.

matt dumba, Jordan Greenway and Jon Merrill also haven’t returned from their respective upper-body injuries, but Evason said he’s chatted with them about how many games they’ll need before the regular season ends with recharging for the playoffs on the team’s radar.

“We’re still playing hockey games, and we’re still trying to have success,” Evason said. “But we have talked about resting not only some people individually but resting the group as well. We’ve got a lot of hockey games here in the next two weeks. So we’ll monitor that and we’ll try to give possibly some guys some days off that aren’t even banged up just to go into the postseason ready to go.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.