In this edition of Minnesota Wild News & Rumors, we will look at Matthew Boldy’s injury timeline and how that might affect his ability to impact the NHL lineup. We will also look at the sensational preseason that Adam Beckman had and how that has affected his roster chances moving forward. Then, we will look at the final cuts and projections for the Wild roster. Finally, we’re going to look at an odd fact about goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.
Boldy Injured for 4-to-6 Weeks
It certainly wasn’t the result that many of us were hoping for by the end of the preseason. Boldy looked like he had staked his claim to the vacant roster spot. However, everything took a wrong turn in the final game of the preseason against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The good news is that it’s four-to-six weeks and not four-to-six months. However, it’s still an injury that cost Boldy a spot on the team. He left the game after getting caught up in a corner battle with a Blackhawks player. It turned out to be a fractured ankle, and it certainly didn’t look good in real-time.
What does this mean for the future? Well, the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Iowa Wild will be without a player that scored at over a point-per-game in every league he played in last season. Whether in the World Junior Championship tournament or the AHL, Boldy scored points and goals at an excellent rate. It also affects the chemistry between him and a young prospect looking to crack the roster, Marco Rossi. I wrote an article about why they should be linemates in the NHL at some point during the season, but at this juncture, it looks like that may take longer than originally expected. It’s unfortunate for both parties, but knowing Boldy, he should bounce back well when he returns to full health.
Beckman Proves a Point
Another player that sadly got cut was Adam Beckman. My colleague Mariah Holland wrote an excellent piece about why he deserves a roster spot, so be sure to check it out. I certainly don’t want to steal her thunder; however, I will say that he more than proved himself, and it would be a mistake not to have him on the shortlist of players to call up if the injury bug hits the team. He scored plenty of goals, and when he wasn’t producing on the scoresheet, he was creating for his teammates and taking lots of high-danger shots.
There was a lot to like from the young forward, and it was hard to see him be sent down even if it was for the best in his development path. One thing is for sure, though. He shouldn’t be in the minors for very long. He scored 27 points in 21 games with the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2020-21 and 107 in 63 games for the team the prior season. He has only had nine games of AHL experience, which may have contributed to being sent down. He looks ready for the show, but more experience against tough competition at the ripe age of 20 certainly doesn’t hurt anything.
Wild Make Final Roster Cuts
With all the talk about roster cuts, it’s time to get some positivity circling. The Wild did end up cutting some players like Rossi, but there is one new face around town. Brandon Duhaime played in the AHL with the Iowa Wild in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He scored a total of 29 points in 87 games, which isn’t a total that will wow anyone in an excellent way. He’s a 24-year-old forward from Parkland, Florida. He was drafted in the fourth round (106th overall) by the Wild in 2016.
His production in the AHL isn’t something you would expect from a player who just won himself a roster spot over premier prospects in the NHL landscape. You’re telling me that a guy who hasn’t scored over 30 points in over 85 games made the team over Rossi or Beckman? Preposterous! Although it may seem like that, there are reasons for every decision. First, Duhaime played ridiculously well in training camp and the preseason competitions. He stood out. He plays physically along the wall, and his skating ability provides excellent forechecking opportunities. He may have only scored two points in the preseason, but they were well-earned.
Second, it’s hard to see Duhaime as a player that cracks the top-six in the lineup. If there were room in that particular lineup area, I would bet my bottom dollar that one of Boldy, Rossi, or Beckman makes it. However, there’s not, so why risk stunting their development as players by throwing them into a depth grinder role instead of first-line minutes in the AHL? The newest addition to the main roster needed someone who could provide aggressiveness and strength in both ends of the ice and through the neutral zone. That’s precisely the kind of player that Duhaime is. He’s an electric forward who should contribute in many aspects of the game, so be on the lookout for him when watching games this season.
Fun Fact About Kahkonen
Kahkonen is still a young goaltender with a lot to prove on a Wild team that needs help in the goaltending sphere. Cam Talbot is good, but he’s not enough to take a rebuilding franchise out of the gutter. The talent to do that might be there for the netminder from Helsinki, Finland. At the very least, management and the coaching staff hope he can take the next step in becoming the true NHL starter he has shown flashes of being.
Michael Russo at The Athletic pointed out an interesting tidbit about Kahkonen’s upcoming season. He’s still technically eligible for the Calder Trophy.
So, who will he be competing against? I can tell you that the race won’t be easy, and he will have to play out of his mind even to be considered like Kevin Lankinen was during his hot streak in 2020-21. Some notable names include Cole Caufield, Trevor Zegras, Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Philip Tomasino, Anton Lundell, and two goalies in Spencer Knight and Alex Nedeljkovic. It’s a lot of competition, and there are even some other players I didn’t name who could win if they have a big year.
He is competing against the best forwards the league has seen come out of the draft in a while. He’s also competing against a goalie that is considered a top-three prospect at the position. Lastly, he’s going against one who was a finalist for the award in 2020-21. It’s a tall task, but we could hear his name in the conversation with the defense in front of him and some improvement in the offensive zone. He has a career .904 save percentage in 29 games, but with some experience and a relatively improved team, there is some hope for the national spotlight.
It’s the last News & Rumors piece before the season officially gets underway, so a final note is to enjoy the ride. The Wild may take us on a rollercoaster filled with twists and turns in a rebuilt Central Division. All that matters is the play on the ice gets tangibly better, and we may be able to see young players come up and take control of roster spots before too long. It’s going to be a fun season.
Jeff is a consistent source for Red Wings content at The Hockey Writers. He was formerly a member of the Predators writing team, and he enjoys watching all sorts of hockey, from juniors to the pros. Jeff enjoys playing for his high school and local teams in Nashville as well. He’s a big proponent of hockey analytics, and you’ll often see him using lots of statistics and data to back up his main talking points. You can find his work here or check out his contributions on his Substack, Last Word on Hockey, On the Forecheck, Broad Street Hockey, Hockey Wilderness, and Puck Empire. Lastly, you can listen to him on the Youth Movement Podcast presented by On the Forecheck or the Triple Shift Podcast. For any inquiries about interviews or questions about statistics, analytics, or just general hockey opinions, you can message his Twitter, @jjmid04.