Wild management speaks about players fitting roles. The team's top six forwards have played theirs so well during a six-game winning streak, that's why prospects Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Joel Broda are toiling with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.

That's also why Jake Dowell, the least-known of five free agents who signed with the Wild in July, was finally brought up to Minnesota on Sunday, March 24.

Dowell, according to coach Mike Yeo, can step in on a checking line because of his style.

"A hard guy, a defensive guy," Yeo said.

Dowell, 28, was a healthy scratch in the first game after his promotion, a 7-4 victory Monday over the Dallas Stars, but he might get into the lineup against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday because winger Cal Clutterbuck suffered a leg injury in Dallas. Although Clutterbuck returned to the lineup, his status for the next game is in question.

Dowell, who agreed to a two-year deal with Minnesota on July 3, picked up four goals, three assists and 29 minutes in penalties in 26 games for the Aeros. He hadn't figured on a stop in Houston before donning a Wild sweater.

"To be honest, I wasn't expecting to be out of the National Hockey League," he said after the Wild's morning skate Monday in Dallas. "I wanted to go down and do whatever I could to get myself back here. Now, I want to do whatever I can to keep myself here."

The Eau Claire, Wis., native played a combined 154 games for the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas before signing with Minnesota, exhibiting the toughness Yeo likes.