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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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As the offseason slowly, but surely, begins to reach its conclusion, it’s time to look towards the future. In doing so, the Minnesota Wild have to realize that they don’t have a ton of cap space to work within the near future.

Now it may look as though next year will be a year where the riches could be plentiful as far as free agency goes, with a projected $26.8 million in cap space. However, when looking deeper into the Wild’s financial situation, some issues quickly come up surrounding one word: extensions. There are multiple players essential to the team that will be needing new contracts, the biggest being Kevin Fiala Jersey.

But, besides Fiala, other players are ready to receive extensions who have been a part of the team in different capacities. From Joel Eriksson Ek Jersey, who has started to blossom as a great defensive center, to Brad Hunt Jersey, who became a reliable depth defenseman while Greg Pateryn Jersey was out with injury.

There also is the issue of the most hyped player of the 2020-21 season, Kirill Kaprizov Jersey, who has this year left on his entry-level contract because of the parameters of the deal he signed back in July. So the Wild may need to look to move a few contracts if they want to maneuver to get more room. In this article, we will look at a few of the contracts that the Wild should look to move to gain some cap space.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
In ranking these moves, they will be ranked based on specific criteria, mainly consisting of their contract, the return in a potential trade, their performance, and the depth at the position. There will also be three tiers that the moves will be graded in, Code Red, Code Yellow, and Code Green. The Code Red tier represents the contracts that the team needs to move as soon as possible.

Code Yellow represents the contracts that the team should be watching closely if they start to gain value. And lastly, Code Green represents the contracts that aren’t in much danger, or that the team could hold onto until the trade deadline to see what happens. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Code Red
Victor Rask Jersey
If there was any move that has made Wild fans cringe during Paul Fenton’s short time as the general manager, it was the trade that sent Nino Niederreiter Jersey to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Rask. In his time with the Wild, he has played in 66 total games and only has 16 points, split between seven goals and nine assists.

Needless to say, this is not the type of production that the team was hoping to get out of Rask. Meanwhile, Niederreiter has had limited success as well in Carolina having 59 points in 103 games played with the Hurricanes, with 25 goals and 34 assists. When looking at Rask’s contract, with his level of production, this contract easily falls into the Code Red category.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild signed goalie Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract Wednesday, adding insurance at the position in light of a long-term injury for Alex Stalock Jersey.

The Wild announced Stalock, who took over as their primary goalie down the stretch last season, has an upper-body injury that will sideline him indefinitely. The Wild recently traded Devan Dubnyk Jersey to San Jose and signed Cam Talbot Jersey to compete with Stalock for time in the net. Kaapo Kahkonen Jersey is the other goalie on their roster.

Hammond’s deal will pay $700,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL. The 32-year-old has four shutouts, a 27-15-6 record and a 2.31 goals-against average in 56 career NHL games over parts of five seasons, primarily with Ottawa. His most recent appearance in the league was in the playoffs for Colorado in 2018.

Hammond spent the past two years in the AHL, with the Minnesota affiliate Iowa Wild and the Buffalo affiliate Rochester Americans. He was 16-12-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average last season.

Carolina Hurricanes Nino Niederreiter
Carolina Hurricanes, Nino Niederreiter (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
He still has two years left of the six-year deal he signed with the Hurricanes back in 2016, worth $4 million per season. But, with his lack of production in a Wild jersey, the value is the only thing that holds back a potential Rask trade.

It definitely would not be a very high value due to his lack of production and his lack of games, being a healthy scratch for many games. The depth at the center position though makes moving on from Rask an easy thing to do. Without him, promising young center Nico Sturm Jersey could easily make his way into the Wild lineup and take the center role perhaps on the fourth line.

Code Yellow
Matt Dumba
The argument could certainly be made that Dumba could be considered more of a Code Green player, but with the trade rumors still swirling around him, he seems like a perfect fit for the Code Yellow category. There have been rumors for a long time that he could be used in a potential trade for a number one center, so let’s take a look at what has led to him being categorized in Code Yellow. For the last two years, he was hampered by injuries playing in 101 games over the past two seasons.

But during the 2017-18 season, Dumba was one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL, racking up 50 points, totaling 14 goals and 36 assists. He has quickly turned into one of the most important pieces of the Wild defensive core. In terms of points, he has easily one of the best values of the three players here. But the return is truly the biggest reason that he is in the Code Yellow tier.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba Jersey, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
As many have noted about this year’s Wild team, the team has no true number one center. In a Dumba trade, the goal would be to gain one for the team. That would be a very solid return for a team that is desperate for a center to lead their two young stars. The only thing that may be a drawback is that it would be hard to replace a player like Dumba with the current defensive depth the team has. But with Dumba’s contract, he has three years left at $6 million, which would be great in terms of generating cap space.

Code Green
Marcus Foligno
Foligno is someone who when thinking about this was tricky. Seeing as he is a dark horse for becoming the next team captain, it is hard to see him being someone who could be on the move. But there are two big reasons why he is on this list; his contract and his recent performance. Even though he only played in only 59 games last season, he had 25 points which were a career-high. He has started to evolve his game into a points-scoring power forward, which is something that is hard to come by in today’s NHL. He would be a big asset for many teams around the league.

Nashville Predators’ P.K. Subban Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno Jersey
Former Nashville Predator P.K. Subban controls the puck in front of Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
The second reason for him being a contract they could look to move is the contract itself. Foligno is in the last year of his deal, making just a little under $3 million this season. While that may not seem very helpful in the future, making a deal for Foligno now could help to speed up extension talks with a little bit more flexibility from the team’s perspective. But the biggest reason for his Code Green status is that if he has another year like last season, he could have great value at the trade deadline.

Final Thoughts
There are certainly other contracts on the team that could be on this list, however, these are the three that could make the most sense for the team at its current state. The Wild have several contracts that they can move for the present, in order to lock up the future.

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It’s been a busy offseason for the Wild and general manager Bill Guerin, who has reshaped the club’s roster ahead of the 2020-21 NHL season … whenever it eventually gets going.

Other than the actual date of said start, perhaps the biggest question left unanswered revolves around who will wear the ‘C’ on their left shoulder on Opening Night.

It’s a question that hasn’t even needed to be asked in more than a decade, not since Mikko Koivu Jersey was named the franchise’s first permanent captain in October of 2009.

But with Koivu gone, now a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets after signing a one-year deal with the Wild’s expansion cousins this offseason, Minnesota has a leadership void for the first time in 11 years.

Guerin said on Thursday that he doesn’t have a timetable in terms of when he wants to name a captain, but did reveal some of the things that he’ll consider before making such a declaration.

“I think it’s important that the captain is someone who everybody respects,” Guerin said. “Somebody that shows up every night, somebody that has the team’s best interest at heart and somebody you can count on. I think we’ve got some good options. We’ve got some good players and some good people here, and it’s an important role.”

And Guerin should know. He was a captain himself during his playing career, wearing the ‘C’ for the New York Islanders for two seasons near the end of his career. He also served as an alternate captain for the Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars previously.

“It was one of the biggest honors that’s been given to me,” Guerin said. “To say that I was a captain of a storied franchise like the Islanders, it’s a really neat thing and it’s a special group.”

Bill Guerin served as captain of the New York Islanders for two seasons.
Bill Guerin served as captain of the New York Islanders for two seasons. Getty

The discussions on who might be in the mix have begun, Guerin said, but not in depth yet. The Wild is expected to have a captain in place by the start of training camp, but with no start date yet to the season, there is also no start date for the beginning of camp.

Conversations about a captain are expected to heat up over the next couple of weeks.

The Wild has a plethora of options to potentially choose from as it looks for its second full-time captain.

Zach Parise Jersey and Ryan Suter Jersey have each worn the ‘A’ since signing with the club on July 4, 2012. Parise served as captain of the New Jersey Devils for one season in 2011-12, leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. He also served as captain of the United States men’s hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Suter twice served as a captain for Team USA, once at the Under-18 World Championships and at the 2005 World Junior Championships. He was an alternate captain for the Nashville Predators in his final three seasons there before signing with Minnesota.

Other potential candidates include Jared Spurgeon Jersey, the most tenured member of the Wild with Koivu now gone. Spurgeon debuted with the club in 2010 and has played in 653 games with the club, third-most in team history. He will begin the first year of a seven-year, $53 million contract this upcoming season.

Marcus Foligno Jersey is another. He’ll begin his fourth season with the Wild and is widely popular with teammates and is respected as a heart-and-soul player on the ice. Leadership comes naturally to Foligno because it seemingly runs in his blood; his brother, Nick, has been Columbus’ captain for the past five seasons, while his father, Mike, spent three years as captain of the Buffalo Sabres from 1988-1991.

Mats Zuccarello Jersey wore an ‘A’ for a year and a half with the New York Rangers before being traded to Dallas in 2019. He signed with the Wild the following summer.

Players trickle back into town
In addition to the sizeable contingent of Minnesota-based players who have been in town for much of the offseason, a steady stream of others will continue to arrive over the next couple of weeks.

With TRIA Rink now open on a limited basis for players to skate, a handful of them are taking advantage. Among those skating at the team’s practice facility include Foligno, Spurgeon, Suter, Nick Bonino Jersey, Brad Hunt Jersey, Nick Bjugstad Jersey, Jordan Greenway Jersey, Victor Rask Jersey and Nico Sturm Jersey.

Rask and Sturm just recently arrived from Europe, as did Kirill Kaprizov Jersey, who got to the Twin Cities on Wednesday and will spend the next couple of days looking for a place to live and to get settled. He’ll need four consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 before he’s able to take part in skates at TRIA Rink as well.

Zuccarello and Joel Eriksson Ek Jersey arrived from Europe this week and will begin their mandatory seven-day quarantines, as will Carson Soucy Jersey, who came in from Canada.

No return date has been scheduled yet for fellow Europeans Jonas Brodin Jersey, Kevin Fiala Jersey and Marcus Johansson Jersey, or Canadian Cam Talbot Jersey, and Guerin is fine with that. His only rule has been that guys on their own are getting their work in daily, getting some ice time and that they arrive on time whenever camp and a season gets scheduled.

American-based players Matt Dumba Jersey (Arizona), Ryan Hartman Jersey (Illinois) and Greg Pateryn Jersey (California) will return to Minnesota and begin a seven-day quarantine once a start-date has been announced.

“There’s no mandatory date to be here by, and knowing the guys like I do now, I have complete faith in them that they’re going to show up in shape and ready to go,” Guerin said. “They did for the hockey in the summer and there’s no question that they’ll do it now.”