The red, no-contact sweater was gone, proof that Wild center Mikko Koivu took another step Thursday.

Koivu, out the past 13 games after reinjuring his shoulder, was cleared for contact, and he took the ice at St. Thomas Academy and took full part in the up-tempo practice, including several battle drills. But that doesn't mean Koivu will return to action Saturday afternoon against Carolina. Coach Mike Yeo said Koivu will see how he feels after practicing Thursday, will practice again Friday and then a decision might get made.

"We're not going to put him in a bad spot," Yeo said. "This is the first day he's had a chance to get out there and have any battle drills. We want to make sure we give him a chance to get into those battles, to be comfortable with them again and also make sure he has full confidence that, next time he hits the ice, he can do those things without any problems."

Still, there appears to be a chance Koivu could play against Carolina.

Koivu said he was able to go 100 percent in the practice.

"As soon as you get cleared for contact, you go and do it and see how it reacts, then go from there," Koivu said. "I don't think you can go and not play 100 percent. You have to test it and see how it responds."

Yeo had Koivu skating on a line with Dany Heatley and Stephane Veilleux.