Cap crunch leaves Wild playing short

The Minnesota Wild are victims of the salary cap.

When the team faces off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, it will mark the second straight game in which the Wild have played shorthanded.

Salary cap constraints have forced Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to carry one less forward on his bench, opting to use a spare defenseman to fill the roster hole. The Wild elected for the same arrangement in their last game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

According to CapFriendly, Minnesota has just over $200,000 in salary cap space, leaving little flexibility for general manager Chuck Fletcher to make a move. Key injuries to forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund also haven't helped the cause.

The Wild also do not have the necessary salary cap space to recall a forward from their AHL affiliate. Even if that could work, the team would need to make a corresponding roster move. This could mean demoting spare defenseman Mike Reilly, who would need to clear waivers in order to report to the AHL - a risk the Wild are not willing to take.

According to Dane Mizutani of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Boudreau called the roster management a "great challenge." He expects to ice three lines against the Blackhawks, with veteran forwards Matt Cullen and Daniel Winnik filling specific roles.

"In a perfect world, would we like 12 (forwards) and six (defensemen)? Yeah," Boudreau said. "I don't think it will happen all season long. Usually things work their way out."

Thursday's contest against the Blackhawks marks Minnesota's third game of the season. The Wild are still in search of their first victory after posting a 0-1-1 showing through two games.

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