It’s almost time for training camp and us fans are pumped for hockey to be back. Especially ready for a new contract for Kirill Kaprizov. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Minnesota Wild’s prospects. Marco Rossi, Matt Boldy, Calen Addison, and others are expected to fight for a roster spot. Expectations are high for the Wild this season. After Kaprizov’s sensational rookie year everyone expects Rossi, Boldy, Addison, and eventually Adam Beckman to follow suit. This season Guerin wants to make a playoff run. Not just a regular run. He wants a Stanley Cup in the near future. As soon as this season. So how about Guerin brings in another player who is more than capable of bringing scoring depth to a playoff team? Also Nikita Gusev knows Kaprizov too well. He assisted on Kaprizov’s OT winner to win Gold. How about he assists Kaprizov on an OT goal to win the Cup?
The thing about playoff teams is not only they have centers, but they have scoring depth. Meaning it’s more than one or two players contributing to scoring. You need to have multiple sources when it comes to scoring. That’s how all of the past Cup winning teams have went all the way. When their top stars were shut down they had backup. That’s what a playoff team needs. The Wild have always been known to be a structured team to rely on goaltending to win them games. Now they need to up their scoring depth. It was only 2 seasons ago he scored 44 points in 66 games played which is top-6 worthy. Yeah he didn’t have a good sophomore season. He did have a good, short stint in Florida, but wasn’t played in the playoffs. Would playing with his Olympic teammate motivate Gusev to revert back to his rookie performance? Especially with younger talent coming in? This would be temporary and Gusev is a good stop-gap player to play for the Wild to give the kids in Iowa extra time to develop. It’s not like Gusev is real old. He is 29. So he still has something to show since he’s a seasoned pro from overseas. Just faced a culture shock, but he still has the talent to change the feel of a hockey game. A 1-2 year deal isn’t a bad idea.
Let Gusev tryout with the team and see how he fits with the team. Kaprizov will be excited to see that Gusev will be competing for the same goal. Also he’s a right-handed shot. More of what we need on this team. He should fit in well with this group. Despite his smaller stature he plays with a lot of heart and will finesse you once he pulls out his bag of tricks. A reunion of Kaprizov and Gusev will give fans more buzz into this season. Here’s how I’d like to see the lines so that we can truly have 4 lines going. Defensive pairs too:
Zuccarello – Rossi – Kaprizov
Gusev – JEE – Fiala
Greenway – Sturm – Foligno
Boldy – Gaudreau – Hartman
Rask – Bjugstad
Brodin – Dumba
Addison – Spurgeon (Played with each other in the playoffs. I want to try this long-term)
Goligoski – Kulikov
Merrill – Benn
This is where you see the depth stretched out. You have the potential to truly have 4 lines clicking and the minutes will be more evenly distributed more often than not. So the top line won’t have to play 20+ minutes. How about we play the other lines so that everyone will be fresh for the playoffs? This is a team that can make the playoffs. How far will they go is the question. It depends on minutes played and matchups. Not to mention how good your center depth and scoring depth is. Rossi will need to show he belongs, which I have no doubt he will do. JEE needs to continue where he left off. Now he’s playing with dynamic wingers. Who is Nico Sturm? He’s shown he can play in a top-9. He’s big, fast, and can be a pain to play against. He should fit right in with Greenway and Foligno. Greenway needs to be a beast. Foligno gets the A.
Boldy on the 4th line makes this team deeper. Now the 4th line has an offensive kick. Boldy already can play a checking style of game because he’s a Swiss Army Knife! This is why Paul Fenton drafted him and passed on Cole Caufield. Not that Boldy will be a 4th liner forever, but with a playoff team needing scoring depth Boldy can play a variety of roles WHILE STILL PRODUCING OFFENSIVELY! Do we have a game-breaker here? He will change the dynamic of the bottom-6 while the top-6 should be in good shape. I don’t think Rossi is going to struggle adjusting to the NHL. He’s overpreparing for the NHL get it? He knows what to expect. He now has to play. By the end of training camp Kaprizov and Rossi should be playing together. They will catch a vibe and Evason will stick with it! Rossi is going to defy the odds. He has too much heart. He faced death for crying out loud. The man is on a mission!!
If Gusev fits in with this team I’d say sign him to a 1-year deal worth $3,000,000. So that we have cap relief for when it’s time to sign Fiala, Kahkonen, and Greenway. We’ll have more than $23 million coming off the books and the Wild will hit year 2 of the buyouts where the salary cap gets tighter. So we’ll we able to pay these 3, but Fiala finally gets what he’s worth. Gusev will either sign an extension or will walk. You never know. Beckman could be ready. Khovanov does a 180. You never know what happens after a year. This team needs to inject more skill into their lineup to support the primary scoring coming from Kaprizov and Fiala. You have a collection of players who are capable of providing scoring depth especially Boldy who can provide significant scoring depth from the 4th line. So how about we bring in Gusev on a PTO first and see how things go? Doesn’t hurt.