Veteran forward Matt Read seeks to show Wild he belongs
Forward Matt Read has had to learn names and the faces that match.
He’s getting accustomed to Xcel Energy Center and figuring out the parking situation.
But settling in with the Wild during training camp after signing a one-year, two-way contract in July didn’t require Read to pack up and move.
A former standout at Bemidji State, Read is staying in his adopted home of Minnesota instead of reporting to Philadelphia like he has every other season of his NHL career — a change that coincides with what Read forecasts could be his last chance to prove he can still play in the league.
“If I didn’t think I was an NHL player, I would be overseas or trying something else,” he said. “But I still believe I’m an NHL player. I still feel like I have it.”
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Read signed with the Flyers in 2011 after accumulating 65 goals and 143 points for the Beavers.
He immediately made an impact in the NHL; his 24 goals paced all rookies, and he ranked fourth in points with 47.
During the lockout-shortened 2013 season, Read had another 11 goals. He snagged a four-year, $14.5 million commitment from the Flyers and cleared the 20-goal plateau again in 2013-14.
Eventually, though, injuries popped up. Read’s role diminished and after sliding down the depth chart, his margin for error shrunk.
When last season started, he was in the minors.
“It was a very humbling experience,” said Read, explaining that he fell more in love with the game while in the American Hockey League and developed a deeper relationship with God.
With his contract expiring, the 32-year-old expected the Flyers wouldn’t bring him back and he felt Minnesota was the right fit for a fresh start for his career and family.
And the journey he’s taken to get to this point may be exactly what helps him re-establish himself, as Read’s versatility could come in handy for the Wild.
“I’ve played games on the fourth line, and I’ve played many games on the first line,” said Read, who lives in Arden Hills.
As someone who prides himself on being responsible defensively, Read has focused on limiting mistakes and turnovers in camp while trying to build trust with his new teammates and coaches. But he’s also flashed his offensive ability, scoring off a one-timer Saturday in the 7-0 win over the Avalanche.
“He’s a veteran,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He been around. He knows how to play. He knows positioning. He knows all those things.”
His audition continues Monday, as Read is penciled into the lineup that will travel to Dallas for the next preseason game against the Stars, and Boudreau believes Read is putting pressure on the forwards who appear to have a hold on the last few spots.
Read’s goal is to be included on the opening-night roster but ultimately, he’s hoping for a chance to show he still belongs.
“If it’s Game 1 or Game 10 or whatever it is,” he said, “I just want one opportunity to go out there and do the job at hand and prove that I can be a factor in the NHL again.”
Forwards Landon Ferraro and Cal O’Reilly and defenseman Hunter Warner cleared waivers Sunday and were assigned to Iowa of the AHL.