The Minnesota Wild’s season is almost upon us, and you likely have read your fair share of season preview content about the team and its players.
Well, now it’s time to talk about a couple of hot takes for the upcoming. These predictions are some that you might not hear being tossed around very much.
Kaprizov Is the Wild’s Best Player
The organization has tried to calm the expectations for Kirill Kaprizov as best as they can. Imagine, though, halfway through the season; he doesn’t just dominate offensively; he’s leading the team in goals and points.
We have seen flashes during training camp of his explosive offensive ability. The Wild have longed for a player who can take over a game offensively consistently.
The Wild may be expecting Kaprizov to have that skill set in a couple of years from now, once he is a little older and more comfortable on NHL ice. However, imagine if Kaprizov turns out to be elite right now and is an All-Star out of the gate.
The 23-year-old sensation has been someone who Wild fans have been excited about for years. Now, in a unique 56-game season, Kaprizov comes flying out of the gate and is a star in the NHL.
The end result could be something that no Minnesota player has ever done; win the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. This might not be the hottest take in the world, but it still qualifies.
Wild Make a Splash on Deadline Day
The Wild will likely be battling it out for the final playoff spot in the West Division with the Arizona Coyotes. So, at the trade deadline general manager Bill Guerin going out and bringing in another top-six forwards to help make a playoff push.
It’s not out of the question. Especially when you consider the Wild are currently without Mats Zuccarello and could be for a substantial amount of time.
The most significant factor as to why this actually could happen is that thanks to the trade that sent Jason Zucker to the Penguins, the Wild have two first-round picks in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
We have seen in the past that first-round picks are precious throughout the league. With this being the first trade deadline day where general managers know the cap isn’t rising at all for a couple of seasons, players on entry-level deals are a prized commodity.
The Wild, facing a tough race, flip one of those selections in a package to acquire a top-six center. Possibly for pending UFA Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or maybe Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has recently asked for a trade out of Columbus. Or even Patrik Laine from the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s too early to predict who the Wild will be acquiring. The key is that the Wild have two first-round draft picks entering the season. However, thanks to a trade on deadline day, they will only be making one selection in the first round of the draft.
Wild Finish Third in the West Division
This one would require just about everything to go the Wild’s way this season. Players are staying healthy, playing to their potential, and getting hot at just the right time.
Most believe this division will have three teams at the top; the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues. Then there will be the three at the bottom; the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. Then the Wild find themselves smack-dab in the middle with the Coyotes fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Until the Wild start to pull away from the Coyotes. With only 10 games left in the season, the Wild have a clear lead in the final playoff spot. So much so that they are within sticking distance of third in the division, and just like they did last season before the pause, they go on a hot streak.
Whichever team is in third place would be so focused on getting warmed up for the playoffs, they lose focus on staying ahead of the Wild. Therefore, in the final week of the regular season, the Wild overtake third place and avoid facing the number one team in the West Division in the first round of the playoffs.
Maybe all three of these predictions come true, maybe none do. If there’s one thing we know about the NHL, is that anything can happen.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.