Wanvig settling down in Minny

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It could be the kiss of death or the sign of something good.

Kyle Wanvig is certainly hoping it's the latter. The former Edmonton/Kootenay Ice winger moved into his apartment in St. Paul Tuesday with the firm belief he'll be needing it for quite a while. After four years of playing for the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild's American League affiliate, Wanvig feels he's finally moulded himself into a full-time NHLer.

"My first goal this year was to get established and feel like I'm a part of this team from the beginning of the year," said the 36th overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft.

As a junior, Wanvig was a productive power forward, netting 55 goals and 101 points along with being named the MVP of the Memorial Cup for the champion Red Deer Rebels in his final WHL year. In the Wild system, though, Wanvig had to become a two-way contributor - a growing process that limited him to 13 games in Minnesota until this season. Entering last night's tilt against the Edmonton Oilers, Wanvig had mustered six points in 19 games but more importantly had earned the trust of Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire.

"The last two years in the minors, I was really pushed to learn the other part of the game and obviously playing for Jacques it's very important to make sure you're responsible defensively," he said.

FOSTER-ING TALENT: Lemaire doesn't feel he has to be in regular contact with Rob Daum, the former University of Alberta head coach who is now running things in Houston. The Aeros hold a 14-6-1 record, good enough for first in the West Division and second overall.

"He doesn't need me. I might screw it up," laughed Lemaire.

The Wild did bring up blooming prospect Kurtis Foster who promptly scored his first two NHL goals Saturday against Nashville.

"He's a good players' coach and he pays a lot of attention to detail in his system," said Foster of Daum. "He's very good behind the bench. He'll give guys the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't yell at guys if they make a mistake but he expects you not to make the same mistake again."

LATE HITS: In the Xcel Energy Center crowd last night was former Oiler great Jari Kurri in his capacity as GM of Finland's Olympic team. He was taking a peek at Wild forward Mikko Koivu.


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