Hockey is back, and fans are getting used to seeing their favorite teams on the television again. It’s a time to mix and match regular NHL players with prospects to see how they fare against better competition and more skilled linemates that have experience. The Minnesota Wild are a relatively young team gradually moving away from a rebuild. There is a chance for them to make the playoffs in the Central Division, considering any team that goes on a run has a shot, but the Wild could do it by bringing up their younger players and adding to the core.
Two players who have impressed in preseason action are Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy. They are the top prospects in the organization, and what was noticeable during the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase was how well they played together. It would be coaching malpractice not to keep them together during the season.
Rossi is Everything You Want
What is there to say about Rossi that hasn’t been said already? He’s a dynamic playmaker with a knack for putting the puck in the net. At just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, the way he uses his body to keep the play moving is incredible. It’s not often that you see a player of his stature fend off the opposition with such ease. He works off of that ability and takes the puck to high-danger scoring areas. His skating and agility, paired with the puck protection and excellent stickhandling, make for one of the best players the Wild have ever seen.
There is nothing that Rossi can’t do. He showcased that in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2019-20 with the Ottawa 67’s, scoring a ridiculous 120 points in 56 games to lead the league by a decent margin. If it weren’t for a scary incident with COVID-19, he would most likely be part of the Wild’s opening night lineup. However, those complications have stunted his growth within the organization, and management might send him to play with the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Even if he does start in Iowa, it won’t be long before he’s called up to see some NHL action. If he plays as well as he has in training camp and the preseason, it won’t shock anyone to see him back in the NHL after the first few games. The Wild can make room for him, and he looks to be 100% healthy. Precautions are always necessary, and he has waited long enough for his shot with the club. If he doesn’t get it right off the bat, it will only push him harder. After everything he has been through over the last year and a half, he deserves the challenge of playing against a professional lineup.
Boldy is Complementary
We can’t talk about Rossi without talking about Boldy. He has also proven himself worthy of a roster spot. While Rossi excels at creating and generating space for himself and his teammates, Boldy finds pockets of space to get a quick and powerful shot off. He isn’t afraid to head towards the front of the net, and he uses his 6-foot-2 frame to force other players off the puck. His passing instincts and vision are underrated, and in aggregate, he is a lethal offensive force.
Boldy has shown at multiple levels that he can contribute on offense. With the championship-winning USA World Junior team, he scored a point per game in seven games, and five of his seven points were goals. He also scored 31 points in 22 games with Boston College, and with Iowa, he scored 18 points in 14 games. That he maintained a point-per-game pace is incredible, and the leagues he played in were undoubtedly challenging.
Boldy has been leading the roster spot chase since the beginning of prospect camp and into preseason competition. However, there is a new problem. In the preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, Boldy got hurt and needed assistance down the tunnel. According to head coach Dean Evason, the injury didn’t look good, which is a bad sign for any player, young or old. Of course, that’s not the focus here, and the injury shouldn’t prevent him from playing this season, but it is worth noting.
A Dynamic Duo
The way these two players work off each other is a spectacle. Writing about it can only convey so much. Everyone needs to watch them to get a sense of how good they are, individually and together. Even though they may not start the season with the big club, they must get a fair amount of NHL action this season. If the production remains the same from Boldy (when he is healthy) and Rossi proves that he is better than his peers in Iowa, they should be called up. Not only that, but Evason should put them on the same line. It’s one thing to bring up youth, but it’s another to bring them up and let them build chemistry. It would benefit everyone to play them together.
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.