SUNDAY'S STORY LINES: There were new and old faces on the ice at the Xcel Energy Center this morning.
Friday, the Wild unloaded unhappy defenseman Marek Zidlicky to New Jersey. In return Minnesota received 30-year-old defenseman Kurtis Foster, 30-year-old forward Stephane Veilleux and 22-year-old forward Nick Palmieri.
All three will be in the lineup tonight vs. San Jose and they are looking forward to new opportunities.
For Foster and Veilleux, Minnesota is a familiar place. Veilleux, Minnesota's 3rd round pick in 2001, played 361 games for the Wild from 2002-2009. Foster played 181 games with the Wild from 2005 to 2009.
Minnesota is Foster's third team this season. He started the season with Anaheim and was traded to New Jersey on December 12th. The defenseman is happy to be back in Minnesota.
"It is a pretty good feeling. You never like to be traded, but when you come to a team like this that you know all the guys, you know the city and know how great the fans are it definitely makes it a lot easier," noted Foster.
The defenseman has 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 37 games this season and has a powerful shot from the blue line. Mike Yeo is hoping Foster can add some offense to the Wild blue line that has lacked an offensive punch all season.
"I think what he is going to bring for us is a steady reliable puck mover, a guy who is really going to help out our power play and you look at the amount of offense we have been able to generate from the back end this year and he will certainly be a welcome addition there," noted Yeo.
Yeo feels the addition of Veilleux can add some much needed energy to Minnesota's lineup.
"You can see he is full of energy," said Yeo. "I am really anxious to get his energy and his life into our lineup. His speed is going to be a factor and he is guy that is going to go out there and have an impact when he is out there. Whether it is a hit or whether it is a shift in the offensive zone. He is the kind of guy that can bring momentum to your team," added Yeo.
For Veilleux, he hopes a return to Minnesota can provide a permanent home in the NHL.
After he left the Wild, Veilleux signed with Tampa Bay and played 77 games for the Lightning in 2009-10. Since then the spark plug forward hasn't found a consistent home.
Veilleux spent last season playing in Finland and Switzerland. The 30-year old signed a two-way contract with New Jersey on July 28th and has spent most of the season playing for their AHL affiliate in Albany.
Veilleux played one game with the Devils this season and he is very excited to be back in Minnesota.
"I am very excited and I am glad to be here it is a good opportunity. Great feeling to be back here, I know a lot of people especially teammates. I had a great time here," said Veilleux.
The 22 year old Palmieri, like Veilleux is looking for a new opportunity in Minnesota. The forward had a promising start to the season with the Devils, but then fell out of favor with Devils head coach Pete Deboer.
Palmieri, who was the Devils 3rd round pick in 2007, has played 29 NHL games this season, but most of those were in October and November. Since December 6th he has only played in 10 NHL games.
The young forward is excited to be in Minnesota.
"I didn't get off to the start I would have liked to and then some other guys were playing well . . . I am excited for our new opportunity," said Palmieri. "I think it is a good opportunity for me to come in and what happened in New Jersey is in the past and now I am just focused on doing anything I can to help this team win," added Palmieri.
Palmieri is a big body and he feels part of his game is to "create space for his line mates."
Yeo is excited for the addition of the young forward.
"Very pleased what I see so far as far as a big body, he just looks like an NHL player, by the way he skates and moves and handles the puck, heavy shot that is what we have seen from him this morning. I am very anxious to see what he can bring in the game today," noted Yeo.