The Minnesota Wild lack a marketable superstar element
Looking around the league at the teams that play host to outdoor games, there is a very clear pattern in that they have players that are marketable both to Canadian and to American audiences.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are due to play their fifth outdoor encounter in 2019; one short of Chicago’s number. In Sidney Crosby, they have a player that has name value in any hockey circle, Canadian or American. Not only that, the supporting cast of Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin both offer marketable elements depending on the audience you wish to target.
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The Minnesota Wild, by comparison, lack any real obvious candidate to market a game around. Ryan Suter is stable and consistent but hardly a franchise name. The team captain, Mikko Koivu isn’t exactly a huge name in his home country, let alone in North America. Mikael Granlund has been labelled by some as a superstar, but again, he’s rarely spoken of outside of Minnesota.
I think the only player that holds the level of marketable appeal you need to sell an outdoor encounter is probably Matt Dumba. He’s young and talented, as well as being a name regularly heard in the Canadian media, courtesy of the endless rumours trading him away.
If an outdoor game is a target for the Minnesota Wild brass, they need to find some superstar talents that not only can bring a strong game on the ice, but can be more than just steady and safe as marketable presences off the ice.
Since the original expansion draft that birthed the first Minnesota Wild roster, they’ve always lacked a true big name; Marian Gaborik carried the mantle for a while, but even he is at best second-tier when you think of the superstars that have passed through the league since his time with the Wild.
Unfortunately, this superstar element is going to have to likely come from the draft and to find a Patrik Laine, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews or Jack Eichel; you’re looking at the top two or three spots – not exactly much fun for the fan base watching your team heading that leaderboard.