Welcome to the second installment of Minnesota Wild News & Rumors where we keep you up to date on the latest news, rumors about the team. The last edition covered the Carson Soucy suspension, Kaapo Kahkonen’s rise, and how Wild prospect Matthew Boldy has excelled at Boston College.
This installment features the Wild’s recently broken record, the possibility of an Ian Cole extension, and the Matt Dumba injury.
Item #1: Breaking Records
The Minnesota Wild now have nine straight wins at home which marks the longest home win streak in franchise history. The previous longest was eight games back in 2016-17.
There are several different reasons why the Wild have been successful to date. Some that might come to mind include their strong goaltending and defensive core, dominance at 5-on-5, and their youth taking over. The one that gets lost in the mix is their unbelievable play at home despite no fans being allowed at the Xcel Energy Center until it was recently announced that would change starting April 5.
The Wild’s 11-3-0 record at home is one of the best league-wide. Their .785 point percentage at home ranks fifth in the league behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights, and Carolina Hurricanes. This has been a huge reason why the Wild have been so good, and one would have to think this should continue since 3,000 fans return in April to Xcel Energy Center
Item #2: Ian Cole Extension
In January, the Wild acquired Ian Cole in the one-for-one trade that sent Greg Pateryn to the Colorado Avalanche. This was the Wild’s trade deadline acquisition in terms of buying, and the move has turned out to be a very good one by general manager Bill Guerin. Cole has the Stanley Cup-winning pedigree and is a veteran defenseman who still has a lot of game left in the tank as evident by his strong play since joining the team.
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s recently published weekly 31 Thoughts article mentions the possibility of the Wild extending Cole.
“Watching Ian Cole fit nicely into Minnesota makes me think the Wild will try to extend him. That’s not going to be easy; they’ve got some big deals coming up. But I can see them making an attempt.”Via 31 Thoughts, Sportsnet
This is one is interesting because it will be difficult with the flat cap. Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Hartman all are due for extensions this offseason. Both Jordan Greenway and Kaapo Kahkonen are signed through next season which means they both will need extensions in the summer of 2022. With the flat cap for several more seasons and all these players needing extensions, this will be a very difficult extension.
There’s no doubt Cole has had a good season and he would help provide stability to the defensive core, especially given the high likelihood of Dumba being moved before expansion and Seattle selecting Soucy which leaves two open roster spots on the backend. In my mind, Cole would have to take a discount and have a real desire to stay in Minnesota.
Item #3: Dumba & Foligno Injury Update
There was an injury update on Tuesday regarding defenseman Matt Dumba and winger Marcus Foligno. Dumba sustained his injury in last Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche when he slid into the boards dangerously. He missed Saturday night’s tilt against the Avalanche as a result. Foligno sustained his injury back on Friday, March 12 against the Arizona Coyotes when he blocked a shot.
According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, there’s a chance Dumba will be able to return and play in Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues. It is not a guarantee, of course, just the possibility after it was disclosed it was not as serious as previously expected.
Russo also tweeted that Foligno – who was having a career season before his injury – is still a few weeks away.
The Wild are off to a strong start to the season and with fans returning in April, that should give one of the best home teams in the league a major lift. The Cole extension is definitely something to monitor but it is unlikely anything would happen until the offseason when the Wild will better understand how much they are able to give the veteran, assuming they want to extend him.
With Marcus Johansson returning for his first game back since late February, hopefully Dumba and Foligno return as soon as possible so the Wild can get back to being fully healthy.
Aaron Heckmann is a journalism & broadcasting student. He covers the Wild for The Hockey Writers & Zone Coverage’s 10krinks. His data-driven articles are focused on solving problems, telling stories, and discovering unique storylines. Find him on Twitter @aaron_heckmann.