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New Season Of Hope For Wild

October 12, 2023, 5:53 PM ET [11 Comments]
Dan Wallace
Minnesota Wild Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Tonight the Wipd kick off th3 2023-24 season when they play host to the Stanley Cup runner-up Florida Panthers.

The Panthers had a magical run last Spring after taking out the NHL regular season champ Boston Bruins in the opening round. They rode the momentum and Sergei Bobrovsky all the way to the Cup final. Matthew Tkachuk took his game to superstar level and only a broken sternum may have stood between the Panthers hoisting the Stanley Cup.

This is a new beginning for the Wild as they look to erase the most recent first round playoff exit. Each year needs to be independent of the previous otherwise we can just write off any team that was eliminated early or did not even qualify for the playoffs.

We know this is pretty much the same Wild team as th3 one that finished the season with the six game defeat against Dallas.

On paper it is, but there were a couple very key components that were missing last Spring. The most important of those was Joel Eriksson Ek, who has established himself as the premier shutdown center in the league. He is also th3 net front presence for the Wild top PP, their best penalty killer, top faceoff guy, and most valuable center on 5he team. Essentially an impossible player to replace.

Kirill Kaprizov also missed a month heading into the playoffs and it is believed that he too was not 100%. Both JEE and #97 are back at full strength and ready to take this Wild team deep into the playoffs.

Filip Gustavsson is ready to claim his spot among the league's top goalies. Marc-Andre Fleury is back for another and potentially his final kick at the Cup. 5he tandem of The Bus and The Flower should provide the Wild with outstanding goaltending.

The defense is actually the biggest question mark heading into the season. Captain, Jared Spurgeon is on the shelf as the season opens, with and upper body injury. Jonas Brodin has a new partner in rookie, Brock Faber, following Matt Dumba's departure.

Both Spurgeon and Brodin struggled in the playoff series against Dallas which is cause for concern and putting that mildly. Jake Middleton has been rock solid as Spurgeon's defense partner and Brock Faber looked anything but rookie like in his Wild debut last Spring.

Jon Merrill, Alex Goligoski, and Calen Addison all eed to step up their game from last tear. That mat be asking a lot from the aging Goligoski but he is a pro and expects to be in the lineup every night. That desire is key, but is it enough to get rhe job done?

Addison will quarterback the top powerplay which is were he truly excels. Wild special teams were absolutely atrocious last season and the most glaring weakness in the playoff defeat

Marco Rossi is po8sed to make his mark after a disappointing 2022-23 season at the NHL level. He was not quite ready, and the combination of never really being afforded an opportunity to show what he may be bale to do with some of the Wild's top talent, his stay in the show was short lived.

This season he opens the season playing 3rd line center between Marcus Foligno and Freddy Gaudreau. It is key for the Wild's top prospect to assert himself early and show that he absolutely belongs and has the skill to play an even bigger role in the future.

Pat Maroon, the OG " Big Rig" was acquired to complete the Wild fourth line with Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime. That trio should be one of the best fourth lines in the league and the playoff pedigree of Maroon can do nothing but rub off on his new teammates.

It is finally time to bring up the lights for real!

It's always Hockey Day in The State of Hockey!
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