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  • Projecting the Wild’s Five-Year Outlook


    With a few weeks until training camp and just over a month until the Minnesota Wild drop the puck on the regular season, fans are spending their time mulling over the future of the franchise. And there’s a lot on which to speculate. What can and will newly-hired General Manager Bill Guerin do in order to tweak the roster heading into the regular season? What young guys will make the team out of training camp? And further out, what about Kirill Kaprizov? Or the Seattle Expansion Draft?

    Yes, Wild fans have a lot to consider ponder worry about obsess over regarding the future of the team.

    But why stop there, when we can push Wild fans’ obsession just a little bit further? Let’s play a little game that steals from the classic job interview question. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The answer? Let’s project what the roster might look like for the 2023-24 Minnesota Wild.

    (Stick tap to Defending Big D, who came up with the idea of this game. Check out their five-year outlook of the Dallas Stars).

    The Rules

    The Expectations

    The Big Question

    The 2023-24 Minnesota Wild

    Other Possibilities: Dmitri Solokov, Will Bitten, Mason Shaw, Sam Hentges.

    Outlook: The Wild have some potential for excitement in 2023, but a lot has to go right in order to make that happen. First, and this is a huge part of this exercise: Kirill Kaprizov has to come to Minnesota. If not, you’ll be asking a lot of middle-six guys to play at an elite level. The Wild also need Donato, Fiala, and especially Erikkson Ek to play near their ceilings. I can’t imagine Parise and Zuccarello playing at a high enough level to warrant top-six minutes, though their contracts will still be paying them as if they are. The fourth line could be a jumble of prospects, energy guys, or big-bodied grinders. The biggest question for me (outside of Kaprizov) is this: who plays center? Erikkson Ek and Khovanov assuredly. But Kunin? Greenway? Donato?

    Other Possibilities: Fedor Gordeev, Brennan Mennel, Marshall Warren.

    Outlook: What was once the strongest part of the team will, by 2023, start to develop some serious questions. The first pairing is solid — a nice mix of defense and offense, of skill and strength. If Brodin avoids being traded, selected in the expansion draft or lost to free agency, that means he’s continued to improve into his prime, and the Wild will likely find a way to keep him on the roster. Considering the constant trade rumors surrounding him, that’s a pretty big “if.” As for Suter (and thanks to lightguy for pointing out that I missed him), at 38 years of age, hopefully he still has what it takes to eat a certain amount of second pairing minutes, especially if he’s alongside Nick Seeler or possibly Louie Belpedio. Because, beyond the top four, you don’t find a prospect that is guaranteed to be an impact player. Gordeev and the two Johannsons all show flashes of NHL-level skill, and then have a lapse of effort or decision-making that make you wonder if they’ll ever put it together. Bottom line is that defense will have to be a focus for Guerin in the upcoming drafts.

    Other Possibilities: Mat Robson, Filip Lindberg.

    Outlook: For all Fenton did wrong, he did restock the goaltending cupboard by drafting Jones and Lindberg and signing Robson to compete with Kahkonen as the goaltender of the future. Kahkonen has the inside track to be the primary netminder in 2023, and while I like Robson and what he could potentially bring to the Minnesota crease, the Wild didn’t move up in the second round if they didn’t like what they saw in Jones. In any case, Minnesota will have some quality options in five years.

    The Takeaways:

    What do you think about the potential roster of the Wild in five years? What do you like? What concerns you? What do you agree with, and what did we get totally wrong?

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