Four folding chairs sat in a row leading into the Reign locker room Tuesday, the makeshift “lockers” painting a plain picture that space was suddenly at a premium.
Locker-room space, of course, relates directly to salary-cap space and roster space, and that meant Dustin Carlson’s stay as the Reign’s third goalie ended Tuesday. Carlson was released in advance of tonight’s game against the Stockton Thunder, in which Darcy Kuemper is expected to start and J-F Berube to back up.
“Practice time is huge, and it’s tough having three goaltenders,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “Sometimes you have to adjust. We’re getting players healthy here, so it comes down to cap space and having guys active. That’s the reality we’re looking at.”
Carlson went 0-1 with a 4.16 goals-against average and a .857 save percentage in two appearances this season. Both appearances came last weekend in Alaska, coming off the bench after the Aces had a big first period against Berube and the Reign.
A longshot to make the team after joining camp on a tryout, Carlson was retained as an unofficial emergency backup in case of injury or promotion to Berube or Darcy Kuemper. The Wild recalled Kuemper to the NHL last weekend, giving Carlson his lone, brief opportunity in the crease before Kuemper returned to Ontario (more on that in a future blog).
So who are the injured players and when will they come back? The latest updates, ranked by this beat writer’s predicted order of return (soonest to farthest away):
1. Defenseman Philippe Seydoux (flu) won’t play tonight. He was at the rink today, bundled up in street clothes — a hoodie and a knit beanie — and his face wasn’t the same color that it usually is. He’s officially day-to-day.
2. Defenseman Dylan Yeo (lower body) won’t play tonight either. He skated the last two days and, with scant exception, looked good. He did some extra conditioning work after practice today and is getting brought back to game speed slowly. He’s officially day-to-day.
3. Forward Kyle Kraemer (knee) has resumed practicing with the team, but Christie said “probably next week, we’ll be looking at [him]. He’s got to get into game shape.”
4. Defenseman Adrian van de Mosselaer (mononucleosis) is also practicing, but Christie still wants to see improvement in his conditioning. Not including Seydoux and Yeo, there are six defenseman able to step into the lineup right now (probably the six that will play tonight: Tarasuk, Huxley, LoVerde, Cote, Bowen and Montgomery) so the coach is in no hurry. “Guys are playing well. It’s a matter of numbers right now. Those guys [Kraemer and Van de Mosselaer] still have a good week of skating. With them not skating [the last] five days, that’s not a lot of ice,” Christie said.
5. Defenseman Jason Fredricks (knee) isn’t practicing yet, so there’s no real timetable for his return.