The Minnesota Wild have been slowly sinking the last couple of weeks. It certainly doesn’t help that the majority of their scheduled games have been postponed due to various COVID outbreaks among their opponents — only Jonas Brodin has been caught with a positive test among Wild players this season, and luckily he was asymptomatic — making the space between results and the time to look back on losses much larger than normal.
With this relative underperformance, it is only natural to look at what other players are available for our favorite hockey club and to ponder why the Hell aren’t they playing for the Wild right now? Especially when it is two top prospects that are currently dominating in the AHL.
Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi have been reunited once again, after the former recovered from his early-season injury that left him out of commission for a couple months. And almost immediately they started to produce again. Rossi earned two goals and an assist in Boldy’s first game, and the other guy got a goal and two assists; fitting their points together like a snug little puzzle piece.
Rossi now has 21 points in 19 games and Boldy has a tidy seven in seven, so it only makes sense to ask management: When can they make their NHL debuts?
“It’s a good question,” Wild GM Bill Guerin said Thursday. “They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and they’re on the right track and they’re getting closer. I always say when a guy is in college or a guy is in juniors and he dominates that league it’s time for him to move up. If he goes to the American League and he dominates that it’s time to move up. Those guys are definitely getting closer.”
Considering that just a week or so ago, Guerin was talking about Rossi in a way that he still has to “earn it” and even though his point production was impressive for a 20-year-old, he still needed to round out his entire game at the professional level — this is a significant step towards either player making their debuts.
Also, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the Wild were already circling dates to call-up Boldy, before he suffered his injury. Now that he’s back and clearly a very good player, could we see the 21-year-old winger make his NHL debut in the next few weeks? Minnesota has already used some of their taxi squad room to get youngsters in on their practices, like Calen Addison and Connor Dewar, so does Boldy making that jump make sense?
And when it comes to Rossi, he has been battling through bumps and bruises all season long, and has been able to maintain this certain higher level of production offensively throughout. But the one thing to consider with Marco, that separates him from Boldy, is his contract situation. Since he was technically drafted out of the OHL, Rossi’s rookie contract isn’t already ticking away like his top prospect counterpart’s. If the Wild don’t want to burn a year — and view that as a necessity given their future cap structure — then they can simply let him cook down in the minors and if he ends up not playing 10 or more games in the NHL by season’s end, then that contract year remains in-tact.
If they want to meet him in the middle, and still give him more games while also manipulating Rossi’s contract slightly, they can restrict him to under 41 regular season games played, which extends the player’s unrestricted free agency status another year, giving the team more control in future negotiations. Minnesota plays their 42nd game (currently scheduled) on Jan. 30 against the New York Islanders, while in the middle of a five-game road trip. Can we see Rossi get called-up before they head east and then hangout for the first game, to then appear against the Isles? Maybe! There are certainly options.
For a team that is currently riding high (sort of) and aim to win the Central Division, to have two top prospects of this caliber is a blessing. We can enjoy our first team’s success while also looking towards the future with one of the NHL’s strongest prospect pools. Now, we just wait and see.