So, What Now? Potential Wild Line Pairings
So, now that the Wild have landed the “big fish,” (not to mention a couple other parts), it stands to reason that they’re probably going to be pretty quiet for the rest of the off season (barring trades, but we won’t speculate on that). What we will speculate on, however, is how the Wild will line up when the puck drops next season. So let’s take a look, shall we?
Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi, Kyle Brodziak, Torrey Mitchell, Cal Clutterbuck, Darroll Powe, Zenon Konopka, Matt Kassian
Roster Hopefuls: Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Charlie Coyle, Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell
Ryan Suter, Tom Gilbert, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon, Justin Falk
Roster Hopefuls: Jonas Brodin, Tyler Cuma, Steve Kampfer, Chay Genoway, Matt Dumba
So, looking at the roster, here are my thoughts:
The Wild are pretty stocked at forward, which will make it pretty difficult for the young up-and-comers to make an impact right away. Of the 12 forwards already under contract, it would be a big surprise to me to see any of the Wild’s youngsters make the opening day roster if they’re not going to play big minutes. That’s no longer the way of the Wild. Instead, look for those that don’t make the opening day squad go down to Houston to play big minutes down there.
On the surface, the signing of Konopka means that Kassian is now a spare part, which is unbelievably disappointing, as he certainly quickly became a fan favorite. He’ll likely be a healthy scratch for a good chunk of the games if he’s on the opening day squad, with Mikael Granlund likely getting the nod over him.
That would mean that, more than likely, Granlund would find himself in the top-six when the season starts, with lines looking something like this:
Now, these are obviously very tentative groups. While I think the Wild are done in free agency, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see them take a shot at making a trade to try to free up some roster spots. Like I said, though, I won’t speculate as to who right now.
The defense is where it gets kind of dicey. The Wild now have seven defensemen, all capable of playing a regular shift, and a few on the fence that will be looking to prove that they’re ready to.
With Suter, though, it would seem that the Wild’s top-seven are pretty much set. I could see them carrying an eighth if they find a veteran capable of filling that role but, as it stands now, I would expect that the two that would be swapping time the most would be Clayton Stoner and Justin Falk, as they play similar games. Here is what I would expect the d-pairings to look like next season, barring any more moves:
It wouldn’t surprise me, however, to see Spurgeon playing regular shifts with the third pairing and have Prosser bump up to play with Scandella, just because of the fact that Spurgeon will be playing regular power play shifts. Scandella has been, however, his typical partner, so we’ll just have to wait and see.