The Minnesota Wild know what they’ll be getting out of Zach Parise this season. They know what they’ll be getting out of Ryan Suter, the epitome of consistency. Eric Staal will have another season of 30 or more assists and 22 to 25 goals. With the trade rumors no longer swirling, Jason Zucker is primed for a bounce back season. Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu will be back from injury. Jared Spurgeon will continue to chug along as one of the most underrated defenseman in the league and Devan Dubnyk is still between the pipes.
For everything that’s been said about the Wild roster over the past few months, that core was largely responsible for the Wild making the playoffs six straight seasons. If the Wild are going to start another run of postseason appearances they’ll need major contributions from their young core.
It’s a core that includes, Ryan Donato (23), Kevin Fiala (23), Jordan Greenway (22) and Luke Kunin (21). All four figure to be playing prominent roles for the Wild this season. If the Wild are going to be a playoff team they’ll need those four youngsters to take the next step in their progressions.
For all the bad things that Paul Fenton did as general manager, trading Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato was not one of them. In 22 games with the Wild, the former second-round pick notched 16 points, scoring four goals. Donato’s willingness to fire the puck on net was a welcome sight for the Wild, as he fired 64 shots on goal. With a full season, a line of 20 goals and 30 assists from Donato wouldn’t be surprising.
The jury is still out on Fiala. Fenton acquired the former 11th overall pick for Mikael Granlund and labeled the Swiss winger as a gamebreaker. Wild coach, Bruce Boudreau projected that Fiala would be playing on the second line alongside Parise and Kunin. The Wild need Fiala to be the player he was back in 2017-2018, when he posted 48 points, scoring 23 goals and recording 25 assists.
As mentioned earlier, Kunin is currently projected to be the center on the second line. This past season he was coming off a torn ACL and in 49 games the former 15th overall pick scored six goals and notched 11 assists. With a full year between him and his torn ACL, Kunin could be in store for a breakout season.
"In his first full season in the NHL, Greenway finished with 24 points, scoring 12 goals and recording 12 assists. Greenway was like Fiala in the sense that he flashed his potential that gave Wild fans hope, but then he’d have long stretches where he wasn’t noticeable. As it stands right the former second-round pick is projected to be on the third line with Donato and Koivu. The talent is there, now it’s about becoming a more consistent player."
The Wild have a nice mix of veterans and young players. They know what they have in their veteran core. Now, they need to find out if their young core can answer the bell and live up to their potential.