Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Minnesota Wild.

1. Who will be their No. 1 center?
Marco Rossi, who was selected with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, could be the Wild’s No. 1 center in the future, but even if he makes the team in training camp, he probably won’t center the top line to start.

At the moment, it appears Marcus Johansson Jersey will get the first shot at the job after being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres for Eric Staal Jersey on Sept. 16. Johansson has played mostly wing during his 10 NHL seasons but played some center last season with Buffalo and at the start of his career with the Washington Capitals.

Other options include Joel Eriksson Ek Jersey, Nick Bonino Jersey (acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators on Oct. 7), Nick Bjugstad Jersey (acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 11) and Victor Rask Jersey.

“I think it’s going work out well,” general manager Bill Guerin said. “I think we’re deeper in that position right now. We have some guys that maybe aren’t No. 1 centers in that traditional sense, but I think they’re guys we can put on the ice and they can play against anybody.”

2. Will Matt Dumba Jersey be traded before the season is over?
The Wild plan to begin the season with Dumba as part of an enviable top-four defensemen group that includes Ryan Suter Jersey, Jared Spurgeon Jersey and Jonas Brodin Jersey. But after Brodin signed a seven-year contract extension on Sept. 15, Minnesota has him, Suter and Spurgeon each under contract for at least five more seasons, meaning it might not be able to protect Dumba for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken.

In that case, the Wild might have to make a decision before the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline about whether they should hold on to Dumba, who has three seasons left on his contract, or wait until after the season and try to trade him before the expansion draft.

31 in 31: Minnesota Wild
07:42 • November 26th, 2020

3. Who will be their captain?
Minnesota is without a captain after deciding not to re-sign center Mikko Koivu Jersey, who then signed a one-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 10. Guerin said the Wild will name a replacement before the season starts.

Suter and forward Zach Parise Jersey, who have each been an alternate captain the past eight seasons, are candidates to replace Koivu, as is Spurgeon. Marcus Foligno Jersey and Kevin Fiala Jersey are also in the mix. Dumba would probably be a candidate if his future wasn’t uncertain.

“There’s plenty of candidates, and I think whoever it is they’ll have the support of all the other guys, all the other veterans.” Parise said. “Regardless of who it is, I think it will be a good collective group supporting each other. That’s what’s most important.”

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The Minnesota Wild were about to hit the ice for morning skate at Xcel Energy Center ahead of facing the Las Vegas Golden Knights, when the NHL put the season on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four months later, the Wild were in the Edmonton bubble, and sent home after losing to the Vancouver Canucks in four games.

With the NHL’s announcement Sunday, we now know how the 2021 season is going to look, and it’s going to be a lot different. Welcome to playing sports in the middle of a pandemic.

“I think everybody can say that they’ve learned to be flexible and expect the unexpected. We’ll be ready to go and we know it’s a different world that we’re living in and working in right now, so we just have to be able to roll with the punches,” said Wild General Manager Bill Guerin, speaking with reporters Monday afternoon on Zoom.

Many Wild players are already skating on their own at TRIA Rink. The team will convene for training camp on Jan. 3, and it won’t last long. A 56-game regular season will start Jan. 13.

Wild fans will need to have extra coffee on hand this season, as plenty of late nights are ahead. The Wild have been moved to the West Division. Their regular opponents are Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis and Las Vegas, which they will all face eight times.

Plenty of late night starts on the road are ahead for the Wild. Guerin isn’t worried about it, and won’t let it be an excuse.

“It doesn’t concern me. We travel on great planes, we stay in great hotels, we eat properly. There will be plenty of time to acclimate to different time zones. If you’re in the West at all, your travel is tough.” Guerin said. “That’s just the way it is. I’m not worried about it at all.”

Guerin also isn’t concerned about the shortened season, which will feature back-to-backs and stretches where the Wild play three games in four nights. He cited winning the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995, which was a 48-game regular season.

After the 56-game regular season concludes, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will feature a 16-team tournament, consisting of the top four teams in each division. All series will be best-of-seven, crowning a champion with the hopes of returning to a more normal schedule with the 2021-22 season.

The Wild went through a fair amount of turbulence last season. Guerin fired Bruce Boudreau, eventually naming Dean Evason the full-time head coach. There’s been roster turnover, and now a new goalie to start the season with Alex Stalock Jersey out injured and Devan Dubnyk Jersey leaving the team in the offseason.

There will be COVID-19 protocols in place to start the season, and games played in empty arenas. But the team’s goals and expectations aren’t changing.

“This is another season in the National Hockey League and we expect everybody with the Minnesota Wild to compete, and compete for a championship, bring their best every night,” Guerin said. “Expectations are the same, if anything, this is when we find out the type of guys that we really have. It’s going to be tough, but it also can be really rewarding.”

Other than injuries to Stalock and Mats Zuccarello Jersey, Guerin doesn’t expect any other absences before the season. He said Monday he’s not expecting any players to opt out of the season, after there were no opt-outs in the Edmonton bubble.

Ready or not, training camp starts in two weeks.

“I trust these guys that they’re all going to come in in great shape and ready to go. I think they’re all anxious to play,” Guerin said.

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The Minnesota Wild know what players are going to be wearing letters during the next NHL season, but they aren’t spilling their guts quite yet.

Coming up to their first season without Mikko Koivu Jersey on their roster since the 2004-05 lockout, the coaching staff was facing a new issue this off-season. Despite the several theories of what path they will go down — roster full of alternate captains, no letters at all, etc. — they have made their mind and we are all just sitting here, trying to wait patiently.

“We have an idea of what we want, and to be honest,” head coach Dean Evason told The Athletic’s Michael Russo on KFAN last week, “we do know who we’re going to name. We have to go through that process. But we certainly have a lot of candidates, and you can just look at our roster.”

General manager Bill Guerin mentioned a few weeks ago, that they know what type of player, on and off the ice, that they want in a captain. Someone dependable and that will always be there; all of those nice characteristics that you idealistically want. Even if that description can mean a handful of players on the Wild’s roster, the decision has already been made prior to the Jan. 13 puck drop.

“I don’t think you can look at it and go, ‘Okay, that’s the guy,’” Evason said in the same radio interview. “We’re excited about that because we have several different guys that could wear the ‘C’ on our team. We have several different guys that are going to lead our hockey club regardless if they have a letter on their jersey. We’d like to get to that point as well, to name him, so that it can be out there. And we’re excited to do that, but you’ll have to wait.”

Everyone knows the usual suspects in Minnesota’s leadership group. Zach Parise Jersey, Ryan Suter Jersey, Jared Spurgeon Jersey, and Marcus Foligno Jersey are the four likely candidates that everyone can blindly guess. If one of them isn’t named captain, that would be one of the more shocking things to happen in Minnesotan hockey.

After the careful teasing from the head coach, we’ll just have to sit on our hands and patiently wait until they feel like telling us. Or maybe just until we randomly spot the letter on opening night, in an extremely casual reveal.