Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi's NHL career delayed by COVID-19

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Six days into Minnesota Wild training camp, head coach Dean Evason was asked to give a progress report on rookie center Marco Rossi.

"They tell me he's unavailable," Evason said. "[So] he's unavailable for me."

Evason was asked about his interactions with Rossi, the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL draft.

"I have not met him yet," he said.

What about the notion that Rossi, 19, could find a regular spot in the Minnesota lineup this season?

"I honestly have no idea."

The mysterious answers were later clarified by the Wild, who said Rossi was unavailable due to an "upper-body injury." From a certain point of view, that was true: COVID-19 does primarily affect the upper body.

Rossi had to leave Wild camp due to complications from COVID-19, for which he had tested positive last November. Later in the month, the team confirmed that Rossi had traveled back to his native Austria to rest up, and that "there is no timetable for his return" to Minnesota.

"Like many, I was originally shocked and very disappointed, yet at this time I am very optimistic that my health is, and will be, good to return to train/play. One thing I know is that I come back stronger than ever!" Rossi wrote enthusiastically on social media this week.

His agent Serge Payer indicated that "very disappointed" might have sold Rossi's frustration short.

"It's never a good time for this, but you talk about a slap in the face ..." Payer told ESPN on Sunday. "Our conversations now are good. Much better now than they were three weeks ago when the news came out. But he's had some good test results [since then]."