Brett Bulmer

Minnesota sends prized rookie back to junior


In a move that signals a different approach for how the club handles young prospects, the Minnesota Wild sent 19-year-old Brett Bulmer back to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League today. Bulmer had three assists in nine games this season with the Wild, averaging just over 11 minutes a night.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep a 19-year-old around an NHL team when he’s not playing regularly,” Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher told the Minnesota Star-Tribune (the Wild had scratched Bulmer for Saturday’s game against Detroit.) “He played really well for us in the last month and we believe it was a good learning experience for him, but at this point, the best thing for him in his long term development is to get back to playing junior hockey and playing a big role on his team there.”

Minnesota had been criticized in years past for rushing its draft picks to the NHL. Colton Gillies, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2007, joined the team as a 19-year-old but quickly fell out of favor with then-head coach Jacques Lemaire. Same thing with James Sheppard, the ninth overall selection from 2006 that jumped straight from junior to the NHL (and then jumped straight into Lemaire’s doghouse.) Gillies has spent most of his career in the AHL while Sheppard is now with the San Jose organization.

Bulmer’s return to Kelowna is much more in line with Minnesota’s current approach to draftees. The Wild’s last three first-rounders — Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips — are all currently playing with their respective European/junior teams while Charlie Coyle, who Minnesota acquired in the Brent Burns trade, is still at Boston University.

Sabres waive d-man Donovan

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Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.

Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.

The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.

The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.

Stars to scratch Nichushkin after rough outing versus Avs?

Craig Anderson
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Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.

Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.

Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.

“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.

“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.