Wild season preview: Youngsters need to step up
If the Wild are going to get over the hump and win a playoff series this season, they'll need their young talent to take a step forward.
Driving the news: The Wild, who begin their season tonight, are widely seen as a playoff team, but few experts see them making a deep run in the postseason.
- The Wild have lost in the first round of the playoffs for three straight seasons.
State of hockey: This year's team looks a lot like last year's, except without high-scoring winger Kevin Fiala and goalie Cam Talbot, both traded during the offseason.
- Since the Wild remain hamstrung by the dead money contracts they gave to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter a decade ago, they have little flexibility to replace Fiala's production or bolster their goaltending depth.
- The Wild will look to youngsters Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Calen Addison to move forward. They also need goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, soon to be 38, to stave off father time and keep playing like the all-star he was in his younger years.
The competition: The good news is that Central Division rivals St. Louis and Nashville didn't make any big additions. The bad news is last year's division winner and Stanley Cup champion Colorado is the betting favorite to win the cup again.
What they're saying: Writers at The Athletic said that with star winger Kirill Kaprizov, the sky is the limit for the Wild.
- "Even though last season didn’t end as many hoped it would, the team’s regular-season performance spoke volumes about where the club currently stands: The Wild are a legitimate contender."
The intrigue: The Wild have been competitive for the past decade, which has made them the local winter team to watch. But with a promising Timberwolves team coming off a playoff appearance last year, the Wild have competition.
What to watch: The Wild open the season at home at 7pm versus the New York Rangers.
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