The 2021-22 NHL season begins October 12. With the opening of training camps, NHL.com takes a look at the Three Keys, the scoop on roster issues and the planned lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Minnesota Wild.
Coach: Dean Evason (third season)
Last season: 35-16-5; third in the Honda West Division, lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup first round
1. Kaprizov’s reminder
Kirill Kaprizov signed a five-year contract on September 21, which means the 24-year-old forward who was a restricted free agent will attend training camp. The Calder Trophy winner was voted NHL Rookie of the Year last season leading the freshmen in goals (27), points (51), power-play goals (eight) and shots on goal (157) in 55 games. How will he fare in his second NHL season, which is expected to be 82 full games?
Video: Top 10 pieces by Kirill Kaprizov for the 2021 season
2. Defensive adjustments
The Wild have lost three regular defensemen who each played at least 50 games last season (Ryan suter, Ian cole, Carson Soucy), so half of their top six will be new this season. Alex Goligoski, Dmitry Kulikov, Jordie benn and Jon merrill each was signed in free agency. Minnesota placed 15th in the NHL in goals against per game last season (2.84) and was tied with the Arizona Coyotes for 11th on shorthanded (80.8%), but with new faces to this post, it might take a while before they gel.
3. Life without Suter, Parise
Suter and forward Zach Parise each redeemed the last four seasons of his 13-year contract on July 13 after playing the last nine seasons for the Wild. Parise has 400 points (199 goals, 201 assists) in 558 regular season games with Minnesota and is third in goals and points in its history. Suter has 369 points (55 goals, 314 assists) in 656 regular season games with the Wild and is their leader among defensemen in points and assists.
Four players on the roster have played at least five seasons for Minnesota (forward Joel Eriksson Ek; defenders Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared spurgeon), and some of the younger players will likely be asked to take on leadership roles.
Video: 2021-22 Minnesota Wild season preview
SUMMARY OF THE LIST
With 10 of the 12 regular attackers expected from last season (FrÃ©dÃ©ric Gaudreau was signed in free agency and Marco Rossi got injured last season), there may not be a lot of competition up front. However, the prospect Matt Bold could take a place in the squad with a solid training camp. At the defender, it is likely that Kulikov, Benn and Merrill will compete for the last two places.
Most intriguing addition
Goligoski will likely be part of the best defensive duo with Spurgeon and could surpass his total of 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season. He should also have a chance on the top unit on the power play, having scored 32.9% of his NHL points (141 of 429) with the power play.
The biggest potential surprise
Rossi should have every chance of being the center of the front row. The 20-year-old, who was the 9th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, led the Ontario Hockey League with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games for Ottawa in 2019-20. a place last season. Minnesota loaned him to the National League’s Zurich SC because the 2020-21 NHL season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but Rossi was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-November after playing a match in the best professional league in Switzerland.
Ready to drill
Jordan’s Green Lane scored a career-high 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) in his third NHL season in 2020-21, but the forward is expected to be in the line for more this season. Playing in the top six as a center on a line with Rossi or Eriksson Ek should help Greenway eventually set a new NHL personal best in goals (12; 2018-19).
Rossi (fantasy average not drafted) is in good health after not playing in the NHL last season and could become the first or second line center. It might take some time to acclimatize to the NHL, but with possible exposure to Kaprizov and / or Kevin Fiala, Rossi could be worth picking late in most drafts. He is ranked among NHL.com’s Top 10 Fantastic Rookies for this season. – Pete Jensen
Kirill Kaprizov – Marco Rossi – Zuccarello carpet
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
FrÃ©dÃ©ric Gaudreau – Ryan hartman – Kevin Fiala
Victor Rask – Nico Sturm – Nick bjugstad
Alex Goligoski – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Dmitry Kulikov – Jordie Benn