The Minnesota Wild welcomed Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy to their lineup for the first time on Jan. 6 when they faced the Boston Bruins. They were called up to aid an injury-filled roster that at one time had claimed Joel Eriksson Ek, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Cam Talbot, Nick Bjugstad, and Kirill Kaprizov. It was finally time to see what Boldy and Rossi could do at the NHL level, and they didn’t disappoint.
The duo had been talked about together since Rossi was drafted in 2020. It’s always been Rossi and Boldy, never just one or the other. Even when they were called up, they were brought up at the same time and were on a line together. They played two games with the Wild before a week-long break that separated them. Rossi was sent back to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League while Boldy went to the taxi squad only to rejoin Minnesota a few days later.
Boldy is a Playmaker
The arrival of Boldy and Rossi had been a highly anticipated one, with most of the talk surrounding Rossi and how he’d light the lamp right away. However, it was Boldy who started things. He scored his first goal in his first NHL game against the Bruins in front of his family and friends and a short distance from Milford, MA, where he grew up. At the time, the goal put the Wild up 3-1, they survived the Bruins attempt at a comeback, and it held out to be the game-winner.
His performance against the Bruins earned him more playing time in their next game against the Washington Capitals. He was held pointless but proved he’s an all-around player and stepped up his defensive game. He played 20 minutes, blocked a shot, and had a takeaway. After nearly a week off, the team was back and Boldy was with them. He continued to step up his game with a goal, an assist, and he contributed on the defensive side with two blocked shots plus another takeaway.
In three games, Boldy scored two goals and tallied an assist for three points. He helped out defensively with two blocked shots and two takeaways, plus he stayed out of the penalty box and spent a total of 5:51 on the power play. He stepped up big in his NHL debut, but he wasn’t alone, his linemate Rossi made his entrance to the NHL as well.
Wild’s Rossi Shows his Speed
Rossi’s debut was a little harder to notice since he wasn’t impactful in the scoring department like Boldy. His influence was felt in other areas like special teams. In the first minute of his first NHL game, he drew a penalty when he outworked his opponent, who had no other choice but to trip him. Near the end of the game, it was his turn to be caught when he tripped another player and spent time in the box. He also contributed a hit and a takeaway.
The next game against the Capitals was difficult as well. He had a giveaway, spent no time on the power play, had another penalty and his overall time on ice went down slightly from 16:19 to 14:51. However, he contributed a hit, had three shots on the net, and blocked a shot. Like Boldy, he was able to produce an all-around game, but he went without points. His debut was not as successful as Wild fans hoped but showed what he’s capable of. He’s a very speedy player who can handle the puck similar to Kaprizov, he just couldn’t get past the goaltenders this time around. However, the arrival of these two may have provided an answer for the Wild’s issue of where to put Kevin Fiala.
Wild’s Fiala Needs Linemates
The Wild’s number one line has been pretty well established as Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, and Mats Zuccarello. The second and third lines have floated around, dependent on whose been in the lineup. Before the slew of injuries, the second line was Jordan Greenway, Eriksson Ek, and Marcus Foligno together. That left a pretty skilled player, Kevin Fiala, without permanent linemates. He bounced around with whomever he played best with, a lot of times, that was Frederick Gaudreau and sporadically Victor Rask.
When Boldy and Rossi first arrived, they were paired together with Fiala. The line clicked well, and Fiala was finally put with players of similar skill to him. He’s been with others like Gaudreau and Rask, respectively, but none have clicked until these last two. Boldy is a great option to be his wing partner, and as far as the center ice position goes, the Wild have needed help in that area all season. Rossi appeared to be the perfect fit in that position, and the line was completed.
However, the line lasted one game before Kaprizov was injured, and Fiala was shifted to the first line while Boldy and Rossi were paired with Foligno. After that game was completed, Boldy stayed on the taxi squad for the Wild while Rossi went back to the Iowa Wild. There were numerous reasons he was sent back before Boldy, including his play and contract rules. He didn’t have bad games, but he wasn’t as adjusted as Boldy, and with other players coming back, they had to make room. The contract rules relate to Rossi only playing 10 games before he would use up the first year of his contract. If the Wild aren’t completely sure they want to have him play this season, they can send him down before the 10 game limit and not use up his first year.
Boldy & Rossi: Future of Wild
Boldy and Rossi are the two players the Wild need on their offense. They have Kaprizov and Fiala, but these two bring additional energy that lifts the entire lineup. Fiala fits well with the pair, and he’s been successful because of them, something the Wild have worked at all season. Boldy proved himself right away, and while Rossi didn’t score, he showed what he’s capable of and that he has the potential to create a lot of plays.
These two are the future of this team, and pairing them with Fiala is exactly what the team needs. Something puzzling is why does Rask remain with the Wild when Rossi could take his place? The only answer that would make sense is the Wild don’t want to use up Rossi’s 10 game limit. However, if he’s ready to play, bring him up. Rask has struggled on and off all season and only seems to get better when he’s taken out of the lineup and brought back in again. If Rossi can play consistently night in and night out, bring him up. This team has potential, but they need the right pieces to get it done, and both Rossi and Boldy are those pieces.
Mariah Stark (Holland) is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.