ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marco Rossi he has high hopes that when the Minnesota Wild build their opening night roster, his name will be on it this season.
The No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft spent most of the 2021-22 season, his first in North America, playing for Iowa in the American Hockey League. Rossi played two games with the Wild and did not have a point.
“I feel ready,” Rossi said. “Last season, that was really good for me. I was able to play a lot of minutes at Iowa. I played in every situation and I played a lot, so I think it was the best thing for me to get better as a player. So I feel ready now.”
The departure of the attackers Kevin Fialawho was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on June 30 and Nick Bjugstad and free agent Nic Deslauriers create an opportunity this season for the 20-year-old center.
“Rossi has to make it,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “It’s competitive, so we want those guys to push for jobs though. If they can come in and push and make the team and help us win, then that’s great.”
Rossi led Iowa in assists (35) and tied for first in points (53) in 63 games last season. It was a nice bounce back after missing most of the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19 and then being diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after reporting to Wild training camp in early January. He played one game with the National League’s Zurich SC and four games for Austria at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, all before the end of December, before resuming training in June 2021.
Last season, Rossi put his health scare behind him and worked to improve his game against adults in the American Hockey League.
Brad Bombardir, the Wild’s director of player development, noted that for players, especially those as skilled as Rossi, patience can be a challenge. He said he’s happy Rossi was accepted.
“There’s always a goal to play in the National Hockey League as soon as possible,” Bombardir said. “But it never, ever hurts any player to play in the American Hockey League. I think overripe is much better than underripe.
“He’s got to come to training camp and play his game and perform well. If he does and gets a spot, then that’s great. If he doesn’t, then he starts in the American Hockey League and at some point he’ll be back here. He’ll be here at last”.
Rossi said he knows nothing will be handed to him this season.
“Of course training camp I know you have to earn that position,” Rossi said. “Nobody gives it to you. So then you just have to be prepared for it.
“Just being myself. That’s it.”