After months of speculation and debate on who should be the two new alternate captains for the Minnesota Wild, the team has made it official, announcing forward Marcus Foligno and defenseman Matt Dumba as the two players that will be getting the letters on their chest.
After the buyouts and departures of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild were in need to two new dudes to serve under Jared Spurgeon, one year after he was announced as captain of this team. The two elder players, that went to the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars respectively, have been involved with the team’s leadership group immediately since signing their massive contracts in the summer of 2012. They were handed the “A’s” right away without question while Mikko Koivu — the franchise’s first true captain — kept his position on the team.
Now that Dumba and Foligno are taking over, there is a new identity for this team. A new era of players that will lead the Wild into hopefully more success.
This comes after a tumultuous summer for Dumba. Without the buyout of Suter, the 27-year-old blueliner would no doubt be exposed for the Seattle Kraken to snap up and walk west with. The opening of the spot, both on the ice and in the leadership group, proves that the Wild have a vested interest in the offensively-charged defenseman and might potentially keep him around beyond the remaining two years on his current contract.
Ever since being drafted by the Wild at seventh overall in 2012, Dumba has been a cornerstone player and been more or less a face of the future of this franchise. He spoke on Friday about surviving another summer where his name was in trade rumors and expansion speculation.
“It makes me feel good,” Dumba said. “My name always gets in the mix. I made it through two expansion drafts, though. I’m thankful for the guys here, my teammates who believe in me, and Billy obviously making an effort to keep me around.
“This is home for me now, and I can’t imagine playing anywhere else. I’m very happy to be here.”
For the other new alternate, Foligno has been a Minnesota mainstay ever since arriving here as a side-piece in the Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis trade way back in 2017. He never quite found his footing through the six years as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, but the 30-year-old is now a rock in the defensive identity of this team. He might not blow anyone away with offensive production — has scored 37 goals and 92 points in 257 games for the Wild, including a new career-high 26 points last season — but his partnership with Joel Eriksson Ek has no doubt been a significant reason why this team has been able to find relative success.
With that experience and importance on this team, Foligno signed a three-year extension in the middle of last season, keeping him in Minnesota for a little bit longer.
Head coach Dean Evason reflected on the decision this summer, before it was officially announced on Saturday.
“We as a staff, have chatted about it obviously, talked about it, debated it, there is no liw, a vast group of guys that we can pick from for those two spot,” Evason said on Friday.
“There’s different voices now that are going to lead our hockey club. The thing is, they’re all in the same bunch. I know that that was our intention, Billy’s intention; they’re all kind of the same age in our group and they can move forward here with this franchise. We’re excited about naming the two guys we are going to name, but it’s legit that we could have named a bunch of guys.”