What does waiving Nystrom mean for the Wild?

So, Eric Nystrom has been waived and Russo has mentioned that Brett Bulmer was skating on the left wing with Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck (man that’s going to be one annoying line to play against) in practice.

So, basically, waiving Nystrom could lead to a very different looking bottom two lines for the Minnesota Wild.

First, let’s take a look at the forward lines as they stand with Nystrom out of the picture:


Injured/Suspended: Almond, Staubitz

Now, looking at that roster, you’ve got to assume that the odd man out would be either Kassian or Staubitz. Yeo has been singing Gillies’ praises this camp and, obviously, the Wild didn’t pick Johnson up off of waivers just to waive him again. Bulmer didn’t make the team to be a healthy scratch or just play a handful of minutes per night, so he’s going to get his look before a decision is made as to whether or not he makes the team.

So, basically, the battle here appears as if it’s going to be for the team’s enforcer spot. To be honest, I like both Kassian and Staubitz as fighters, but I think that Kassian has a little bit more value as an every day player than Staubitz does. He’s amassed an impressive amount of penalty minutes in the AHL, but he seems like he’s a better skater and a more disciplined player than his NHL counterpart.

The more disciplined part, I think, is what the Wild is keeping him around to look at.

Staubitz is suspended for the first three games of the season and he’s going to significantly alter his game to keep from future suspensions. If that’s the case, Kassian might be better suited for the NHL. He’s certainly proven himself as a pugilist, in any case.

But, enforcer battle aside, waiving Nystrom gives the Wild flexibility.

We all know that the Wild aren’t going to make the playoffs on the strength of their fourth line. If the Wild is going to be successful this season, it’s going to be because their top-nine forwards are playing at the top of their games – not because their fourth line is setting the world on fire.

This doesn’t drastically change the Wild’s team, nor does it change their odds to make or miss the playoffs. It doesn’t even mean that Nystrom might not be back at some point during the season.

What this does, though, is gives the Wild the option to pick someone up off of waivers and slot them in immediately, or make a bigger move to improve their team or even, God forbid, another trade.

Am I sad to see Nystrom go? Absolutely. He was a great guy to have in the locker room that just had a rough go of it. But this is the right move for the Wild to make at this point. They know what they had in Nystrom. They don’t, however, know what they’ve got with Bulmer, Johnson or Gillies, and they need to find out, because while the fourth line won’t win the Stanley Cup for them, it very well could pick them up some important points during the season.

Hopefully Nystrom impresses enough in Houston to earn himself another shot inMinnesota, or gets picked up by another NHL team off of waivers, but for right now, Houston is the way he’s heading.

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