It’s tough being a Minnesota Wild supporter as the Stanley Cup Final comes around.
This year is no exception.
I’m not a true fan of the Vegas Golden Knights, but I can appreciate the fact that they knocked the Dallas Stars out of the playoffs.
I know. That’s something the Wild couldn’t really come close to doing.
True, it’s schadenfreude. Beyond that I am also jealous of the Knights.
The franchise is playing for the Stanley Cup for the second time since joining the NHL in 2017.
The Wild have won nine playoff games in that same span and no series. One of those playoff exits came against the Knights, in seven games in 2021. Minnesota has been to the conference finals once, and that was two decades ago.
The Montreal Canadiens, a team in the Eastern Conference, has more Clarence Campbell Bowls than the Wild, thanks to the league restructuring in the COVID-19 season of 2020.
Don’t worry Florida Panthers. I really admire you as well. You have a team that not only talks about ‘grit first’ but actually goes out and delivers on that.
And, so, the Wild watch and wait.
When might Minnesota’s opportunity come? The Wild seemed to have the potential to make a run last season but fell to the St. Louis Blues in six games.
This year was going to be different. Minnesota was built for the playoffs. A big, physical team that appeared could be a problem in the playoffs.
The Wild will try again next season. Likely with a lot of the same pieces back, and hopefully with a true opportunity for Marco Rossi with the squad. The salary-cap impact of the buyout of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter has impact both the moves the Wild make and can not make in the offseason.
The team couldn’t afford forward Kevin Fiala and traded him to the Los Angeles Kings last summer. This year, Matt Dumba is an unrestricted free agent that the Wild won’t be able to re-sign.
The Wild will have to make tough choices over the next two seasons until Parise and Suter are both off the books.
That’s about the time an influx of some of the team’s young talent should be competing for playing time with the Wild.
Scott Wheeler of the Athletic ranked the Wild as having the NHL’s top prospect pool in his story in early February. The group includes goalie Jesper Wallstedt, left winger Liam Ohgren, center Marat Khusnutdinov and forward Danila Yurov among others.
That group, joining a team led by Kirill Kaprizov, gives Wild fans hope it seems.
The results of a fan poll that Wild beat writers Michael Russo and Joe Smith compiled at the end of the season showed that. About 89% of the respondents are either very confident or somewhat confident that Wild general manager Bill Guerin will turn the Wild into a Cup contender after the buyout plan ends.
We’ve heard that before thought. Let’s hope it comes true even if it is at least a few years down the road.
What’s waiting a few more seasons at this point?