The Minnesota Wild will end their three-game west coast road trip tonight against the Seattle Kraken in a late-night Remembrance Day/Veterans Day contest. The Wild met the Kraken just over a week ago in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center and were force-fed their first shutout of the 2022-23 season in a game where they just could not get anything going against a strong Kraken squad. They will be hungry for a better result tonight as they try to ignite a winning streak after beating the Anaheim Ducks on Nov.9.
The 2022-23 Kraken are a different beast than they were last season. Currently fighting for second in the Pacific, Seattle is on a five-game win streak, scoring at least three goals in each of their last ten games. Every line is generating offense, their defense has been solid, and their strange goaltending situation has led to some stellar performances from depth goalies. If the Wild want to send this beast back to the depths tonight, they will need solid execution from their entire lineup.
Wild Projected Lineup
A trickle of players returning from injury and some younger players stepping up has the Wild in a much better situation tonight than they were when they faced the Kraken on Nov.3. Tonight’s lineup is subject to change based on the questionable return of multiple players.
Kirill Kaprizov – Freddy Gaudreau – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Matt Boldy
Connor Dewar – Marco Rossi – Mason Shaw
Adam Beckman / Tyson Jost – Sam Steel – Joseph Cramarossa
Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison
Marc-Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson
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With Greenway and Foligno potentially returning tonight, the “GREEF” line could make an appearance, making the bottom six a toss-up. Boldy has been one of the Wild’s most consistently good players and will likely slide in beside Rossi and Shaw, who has been fantastic since being called up from the Iowa Wild. The fourth line will then be some combination of Dewar, Steel, Jost, Beckman, and Cramarossa. The good news is that while it may be tough to decide to sit two of those five players, it’s only tough because all of them have been playing well enough to deserve a spot on that line.
Kraken Projected Lineup
The Kraken have a lineup that works, and given how good they’ve been lately, it would be strange to see them make any adjustments that aren’t injury-related.
Andre Burakovsky – Alexander Wennberg – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz – Matthew Beniers – Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann – Yanni Gourde – Brandon Tanev
Ryan Donato – Morgan Geekie – Daniel Sprong
Vince Dunn – Adam Larsson
Cale Fleury – Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy – William Borgen
Martin Jones – Magnus Hellberg
The Kraken’s defense has a (physically) large hole in it because of an injury to Jamie Oleksiak. His position will be filled by youngster Cale Fleury, who also has size, but only 50 games of NHL experience and a single point. He played nine games with the Kraken in the 2021-22 season after being selected from the Montreal Canadiens in the expansion draft and will likely be motivated to have a strong performance to prove his worth.
Key Players to Watch
Minnesota Wild – Marco Rossi
There is no overstating the high expectations placed on Marco Rossi heading into this season. Since he was drafted ninth overall in the 2020 Draft, Rossi has been heralded as the Wild’s prized prospect, and the organization has high hopes that he develops into a true number-one center. It is no secret that the team desperately needs a more skilled centerman, as the team has already tried three different players between Kaprizov and Zuccarello this season with varying levels of success.
While Rossi has not been on the scoresheet often (one point in 14 games), he has been getting progressively better with each game. It’s rare for a player to drop into an NHL lineup and make an immediate impact, as Wild fans have become used to with Kaprizov and Boldy. Slow progression with bumps and mistakes along the way is the typical path for a young player, and the rate at which Rossi is improving is extremely impressive. The last game against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov.9 was easily his best so far, and tonight could be the night he finally breaks out.
Seattle Kraken – Andre Burakovsky
The two-time Stanley Cup winner Andre Burakovsky was coming off of a career year in 2021-22 with the Colorado Avalanche when the Kraken signed him to a five-year deal. His $5.5 million average annual value (AAV) now looks like a steal as he has 13 points (four goals and nine assists) in 14 games, playing on the first line, and is on pace to easily break last season’s personal record of 61 points. He has five points in the Kraken’s last four games, including a three-point night against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 8.
With the chemistry developing between Burakovsky, Wennberg, and Bjorkstrand, the Kraken have benefitted from a strong offseason that saw them bring in a good group of free agents in their prime to supplement young stars like Matty Beniers. If things keep rolling, Burakovsky’s playoff experience will be critical in helping guide the Kraken if they find themselves in the postseason.
Tonight’s match-up can be found on ESPN+ and KFAN 100.3 FM starting at 9:00 PM CT.
*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.com, Seattle Kraken lines from @sound_hockey on Twitter, and Minnesota Wild lines based on previous game and injury updates from @Russohockey on Twitter.