Minnesota Wild: How the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blueprint could help

ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 01: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild and Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battle for the puck during a game at Xcel Energy Center on December 1, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 01: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild and Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battle for the puck during a game at Xcel Energy Center on December 1, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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ST. PAUL, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck with (L-R) Ryan Suter #20, Matt Dumba #24, and Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defending during the game on November 25, 2016 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN – NOVEMBER 25: Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck with (L-R) Ryan Suter #20, Matt Dumba #24, and Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defending during the game on November 25, 2016 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

How do you build a Minnesota Wild core group?

The Toronto Maple Leafs chose a core group including a goaltender in Frederik Andersen, a young defenseman in Morgan Reilly and a very cleverly cap-controlled center in Nazem Kadri. Tying up those three players long-term has allowed them to build around a central pillar of strength.

You’d have to be willing to build any core group with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s names still on the roster. It seems highly unlikely that anyone, contender or otherwise, would ever be willing to take on either of their contracts. As such, you’d have to work with it.

Ryan Suter is a perfect fit, provided his game doesn’t drop off too much as he ages. He is able to be a veteran presence; one that is paid a bit too much, but he could easily be named the new captain once Mikko Koivu retires. He provides stability at the back, perfect for helping with the development of future blue-liners and also chips in plenty of offense.

If you’re following the Maple Leafs model; you’re also looking for a defenseman with Norris Trophy credentials, that is young and not on an absurd salary. That is something that the Minnesota Wild also have in Matt Dumba. His goal scoring this season, until his unfortunate injury, was a sight to behold and he still has more time to develop.

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Zach Parise is the challenge in terms of building a core group. Whilst there’s no doubt he still can put up strong production, the fact he plays on the wing makes his cap hit seem rather bloated. If he were a center, even one on the second line, you’d be looking at him as a much more valuable building block.

On the same topic of wingers, you’d hope a place could be found for Mikael Granlund but it’s entirely possible that the salary cap structure would need a ton of re-jigging for this to happen and as a result you’d have to probably lose Jared Spurgeon, among others. Mikko Koivu’s (now) bloated contract is hurting the team in this regard.

Finally, between the pipes, do you trust Devan Dubnyk when he seems to already be on a bit of a decline?

I’m not certain that Dubnyk is the player to fill the role of number one goaltender as you build your future core. The obvious choice here is Kaapo Kahkonen, but it might be a little foolish to rush him into the first team too early. Either way, the net is guarded enough for now just maybe not enough for the future core to be considered a real contender.

Adding to that core, you need to look at your feeder club and ensure the best possible results. Thankfully, this is something already occurring with the Iowa Wild.