The Minnesota Wild are starting their 2022-23 season in an interesting spot. They have been projected by different analysts, some with data and equations that will make our eyes water in confusion, as one of the best teams in the league and one certainly heading to the playoffs. Compare that to just last summer where we collectively felt not a whole lot of expectations for this team. They were good but not going to compete for the Stanley Cup. Well, apparently that’s all changed and with higher expectations comes bigger pressure to fine-tune the roster and fill any holes.
One possible hole in the lineup could be the offensive punch throughout. There is certainly a scorer on each line — Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi — but maybe the dual threat is missing from some. Well, the Wild are reportedly trying to fix that via a mid-season trade, but will be patient and see how other players pan out, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Well, that’s interesting news.
The Wild are certainly depending a lot on some young players to make the jump and become those reliable offensive contributors that the team needs. Tyson Jost and Sam Steel are getting opportunities higher in the lineup than anyone initially thought heading into the season — in Jost’s case, it’s because of Jordan Greenway’s injury — and Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi are going to be projected to be some of the Wild’s key forwards for the next decade. A whole lot is riding on these guys who are under 25 years old.
As Friedman mentions in his blurb about Minnesota, GM Bill Guerin will be patient and if Steel doesn’t show the shine that he did in the preseason, or Jost is a player that doesn’t add too much, then he will go out searching for some help up top.
There are some key parameters that are somewhat obvious: The forward will need to be either young and cheap or old and affordable, and they need to be responsible at both ends of the ice. With Boldy needing a new contract this summer and Minnesota still in cap hell with the dual buyouts, acquiring another young player that is going to possibly need a big extension before the Wild are relieved of their buyout penalties, might be a mistake. But if the player is super old, on an expiring deal, and can come under the cap for this year, then why not?
Maybe we’re just talking out of our asses, but would it be someone like Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist? The 35-year-old was limited to just 12:40 TOI a game last season and is a free agent this summer. No commitment! It could muddy the waters slightly, but does Jonathan Marchessault from the Vegas Golden Knights make sense? The 31-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with a $5-million cap hit. Not that crazy expensive but could create a problem next summer. If we’re getting into that range and want some more financial certainty, there is always the possibility of acquiring 25-year-old Travis Konecny from the Philadelphia Flyers, who is locked up for three more years at $5.5-million AAV. Not too shabby for someone who scores 55 points on a very bad team.
There are certainly plenty of options, but we won’t see anything come to fruition soon, unless the Wild start their season on a 10-game losing streak or something like that.
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