Beginners Guide To The 2021-2022 Minnesota Wild

This is a sports fan’s guide, whether you are new to hockey or have been a fan for years, this will serve as a fan-made guide to the Minnesota Wild and allow you to understand and dive into the status of this team without further delay!

Drama continues over a contract for Kirill Kaprizov as he will not be in St. Paul for the start of Minnesota Wild training camp this week. (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images)

First off, being a Wild fan, or for lack of a better word, being a fan of the Minnesota sport in general can hurt a bit, but aside from limited playoff success, this team can be extremely endearing and is on track to make a deep playoff run.

Now we are more focused on the 2021-2022 season as explained in the title. One of the main things that will stand out is the fact that the Minnesota Wild will be able to fully utilize the Xcel Energy Center. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Wild weren’t able to have the 18,000-strong team at the Xcel Energy Center until the end. This season, the team is supported by its large, passionate fan base.

January 31, 2021; St Paul, Minnesota, USA; A general view of the Xcel Energy Center during the third period of a game between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

One of the first things everyone wants to see is who is the star on this team, the simple answer? Look no further than last season’s Calder Trophy winner: Kirill Kaprizov.

Kaprizov was a stud in the KHL who only came to the NHL to show he was legit and the Wild rewarded him with a 5-year, $45 million contract, but Kaprizov himself doesn’t make up the entire team, Kevin Fiala is another rising star on this team who, despite being on another year of contract, is looking to prove he’s real and, like Kaprizov, set himself up for the longer term.

January 31, 2021; St Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Victor Rask (49) celebrates with forward Kirill Kaprizov (97) and teammates after scoring against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A key factor in Kaprizov’s success was pairing up with veteran striker Mats Zuccarello, as the two had an instant chemistry on the ice and the rest of the team was driven by that.

Joel Eriksson Ek, who finished 4th in the Selke Trophy pick, is back after signing an 8-year deal with the Wild and as you may have guessed he is expected to be 1C between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello step in. Much to the dismay of many Wild fans, Victor Rask is back on the team this season. He’s the type of player the fans don’t want to play, but the team still tries to get every gram they can out of the man. Other notable returnees we’d love to see include Nico Sturm and Nick Bjugstad. Striker Brandon Duhaime had an excellent training camp and ended up winning the last open squad spot. There were two roster spots open, but because the Minnesota Wild requested Rem Pitlick of waivers from Nashville, the spots were reduced to one.

Oct 6, 2021; St Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild right wing Brandon Duhaime (65) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the St. Louis Blues in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Another addition to the Wild this season will be two new reserve captains. When the Minnesota Wild bought Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, they created vacancies in the “A’s,” and when training camp began, Captain Jared Spurgeon named Marcus Foligno and Matt Dumba as the new backup captains. Foligno, also known as “Moose” is just an all round good guy, he mostly plays in the middle of the six and when he has to drop his gloves. Dumba is such a great character guy too and loves to be that voice in the dressing room when need be.

ST PAUL, MN – JANUARY 22: Matt Dumba #24 and Marcus Foligno #17 of the Minnesota Wild exit the arena after the game against the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center on January 22, 2021 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images)

The next topic isn’t the greatest situation in the world, but Bill Guerin and the Wild tried their best to rebuild the Wild’s defense after suffering heavy turnovers this offseason. Minnesota native Alex Goligoski signed a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason to replace Ryan Suter, but don’t let that discourage you. Goligoski looked great in training camp and seems to have a lot left in the tank. Other new additions to the defense include Jon Merrill, Dmitri Kulikov and Jordie Benn.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 9: The Minnesota Wild’s Ryan Hartman #38 (center) is congratulated by (LR) Alex Goligoski #4, Jordan Greenway #18 and Marcus Foligno #17 after scoring during a first period against the Chicago Blackhawks scored preseason game at United Center on October 09, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last but not least, let’s talk about the goalkeepers. Cam Talbot was signed before last season to take over as the number one goalkeeper and he did just that. He ended up appearing in 33 games in the shortened season, winning 19 of them. Kaapo Kahkonen, who some will say will eventually be the team’s number one goalkeeper, has appeared in 24 games and has been credited with 16 wins and just one loss fewer than his 8 counterpart.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 1: Cam Talbot #33 and Kaapo Kahkonen #34 of the Minnesota Wild celebrate on the ice after the team’s 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on April 1, 2016. April 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Okay, okay, that’s the last point, the best prospects. Marco Rossi has had a fantastic training camp considering he hadn’t played any significant hockey in 18 months due to COVID-19 complications. He needs games and was recently announced to be assigned to the Iowa Wild to get this season.

Oct 7, 2021; St Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Adam Beckman, 53, watches against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Beckman tried his best to win that last preseason job as the Wild’s top scorer and even literally got into a fight to show what he was made of. It’s safe to think that Beckman would likely be recalled and see some NHL time in the upcoming season. Matt Boldy also had a great camp until he was injured in a pre-season game and will miss some time with a broken ankle.

*All stats on NHL.com

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