|The last time Danny Irmen was on Xcel Energy Center ice was in a disappointing loss to Wisconsin. He returned to Xcel for Day One of Prospect Camp on Tuesday.|
The Minnesota Wild has 29 prospects at its 2006 Prospects Camp at Xcel Energy Center this week, and Irmen, Benoit Pouliot, Roman Voloshenko and Shawn Belle are likely the only four players with a shot of taking the final one or two spots on the big club’s roster this year.
So Irmen, who played three years of college hockey across the river at the University of Minnesota, must have been slightly discouraged about his chances each time the Wild picked up a player like Pavol Demitra, Mark Parrish and Branko Radivojevic.
Surprisingly, that’s not the case.
“Even though I’m part of the organization, I’m still a huge fan of the Wild,” said Irmen. “To see the moves they made, I’m very excited that they are going to have a great team. If you’re a part of it, you’re a part of it. If not, you’ll work harder next year. But it’s been very exciting for Wild fans.”
There’s a good chance Irmen will do more than following the Wild from a computer in Houston, Texas next season. While still fresh out of the college game, he has shown he can put the puck in the net, and there’s always room for a player like that in the National Hockey League.
Irmen’s goal is to use the offseason to get bigger and faster, and he’s done that by training all summer long with Wild defenseman Brent Burns, and strength and conditioning coach, Kirk Olson.
“It’s definitely helped me over this summer,” he said. “Kirk’s one of the best trainers around, and I’m in the best shape I’ve been over my hockey career. Hopefully that falls over to training camp and beyond.”
Hickey A Hit
Three players at the Wild’s weeklong camp were drafted in the first round, including Pouliot, AJ Thelen and Belle. Several players are knocking on the door of the NHL like Irmen and Voloshenko.
But the media darling on the first day of camp was Cretin-Derham Hall star, Chris Hickey, who arrived in the Wild locker room after the first skate on Tuesday to a swarm of reporters and cameras.
Hickey, who still has his senior year ahead of him, explained how excited he was to be surrounded by such talented players.
He even joked with the media like an NHL veteran.
When asked if he got a raw deal because he didn’t get a locker, but rather a chair on the side of the Wild locker room, Hickey cracked, “It’s not so bad,” he said as he pointed at the large flat screen television directly behind his seat, right above his nameplate. “They gave me a TV. It even has my name on it!”