On October 9, teams and players alike flocked to their phones to forge a path to the future. Whether they sought long-term homes or bet on themselves to succeed, free agents across the NHL negotiated new contracts to find future homes with new teams. Despite the chaos of the first day, Wild general manager Bill Guerin stayed pat on his plan: rebuilding the Wild above all else. While the Wild didn’t make any blockbuster trades like their division rivals, Guerin shifted the roster’s identity to new horizons.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the roster’s biggest changes; specifically, departing faces and new faces to the franchise.
The New Names In and the Old Names Out of the Minnesota Wild Roster
The long-term captain of the Wild’s departure felt like a blow to the stomach. Koivu, who spent the last 15 seasons playing for the Wild, signed a one-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 38-year-old center will be missed in Minnesota, but his departure opens up room for a fresh face to fill his shoes.
In a trade with the San Jose Sharks, starter Devan Dubnyk was traded for a fifth round pick. The three-time All-Star ended the 2019-20 season with a 12-15 record and a .849 save percentage. Dubnyk will look to start in tandem with Sharks goalie Martin Jones as San Jose attempts to return to the playoffs. He will be replaced by new free agent signee Cam Talbot, who the Wild recently signed to a three year contract.
Ryan Donato played his first full NHL season with the Minnesota Wild, where he recorded 23 points in 62 games. He was traded to the San Jose Sharks for a third round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. He’ll look to make a name for himself with the Sharks while the Wild free up their middle-six forward space.
Alex Galchenyuk split his season between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Wild, where he scored 24 points in 59 games. Galchenyuk, who was not re-signed by Guerin, will find a new home before the end of the offseason. He will serve as a strong depth role on a team looking to take a gamble on him during the coming year.
Eric Staal, another long-term veteran with the Wild, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Marcus Johansson. The former 40-goal-scorer will be greatly missed on the offensive end; having said that, his departure opens up another roster spot for a new face.
The former Edmonton Oiler and Calgary Flame signed a three-year contract with the Wild. Cam Talbot will look to improve on last season’s 12-10 record and .923 save percentage. He’ll receive plenty of starting opportunity with the departure of Devan Dubnyk to the San Jose Sharks. Talbot, 33, is a reliable option for a team like Minnesota to remain competitive.
Nick Bjugstad was acquired for a seventh round pick in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The shifty centerman scored three points in an injury-shortened 13-game season. He’ll have a great opportunity to prove himself on Minnesota’s roster, likely slotting somewhere in the middle-six for the team. Expect a 40-50 point season from the 28-year-old forward.
Before the end of the 2020-2021 NHL season, every Wild fan will know the name of Kirill Kaprizov. The Russian winger has consistently led the KHL in scoring for years. He’s a talented, versatile player with a wicked shot and strong play on both sides of the ice. Last season, Kaprizov finished his season scoring 62 points in 57 games with CSKA Moscow. He’ll showcase his lethality on the Wild’s top-six next season, earning plenty of time on the power play, too.
Who are you most excited to see play for the Minnesota Wild? Who are you going to miss the most? Let us know in the comments!