We knew this day would come. Marco Rossi is on the Minnesota Wild’s roster and here we are, complaining about how he is being used and wanting to see him more and more every time the puck touches the blade of his stick. We are not at fault — the royal we as fans of this hockey team — for wanting the 21-year-old center to have as much opportunity as possible, especially when he puts in a performance like he did on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was just another preseason game, but Rossi just appeared to be on a higher plane, on the same level as his linemates in Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. This innate awareness of where everyone is at all times, so he can make his plays and be this passive and active player that has every scoring chance go through him first, when he is on the ice.
And it’s clear that he enjoyed playing with those two top-line wingers.
“It was awesome,” Rossi said. “Incredibly good players so for me it was a big honor and for me before the game, my mindset was just to get open and try to help them as much as I can and just to get open and just get the puck and find them, too.”
Rossi finished the game with a goal and an assist, making it eight total points in the five preseason games he played. That total leads the entire damn NHL in scoring and his six assists is tied for top of the league as well. He is just an entire phenom and we now get to see him play hockey full-time.
There is this simple aura of complete control when it comes to him at this level and as calm and cool and collected we see him on screen, it’s an even bigger compliment to hear it from your coach.
“Didn’t look like he was intimidated by the environment,” said Dean Evason. “He just played the game.”
And because of all of this — the calming presence, being the scoring leader, the obvious excitement we have over the 2020 ninth-overall pick — we want him to just be thrown on that top line and be crowned as the Wild’s top center immediately in the season. But we know that won’t happen yet, and kind of with good reason.
The regular season is a different thing, we all know that, so you can’t blame Evason and his coaching staff for wanting more stability and familiarity when it comes to the start of this important 2022-23 season. When your top line — consisting of Kaprizov, Zuccarello, and Ryan Hartman — had three of your top four scorers last season on it, you can’t just throw that away immediately because a top prospect is playing very, very well.
It is disappointing to hear, but this requires just a little bit of patience. We were patient for Kaprizov to come over (and extreme example), we were patient when Matt Boldy suffered an injury to start his season and delayed his NHL debut, and we were patient for Rossi to spent most of last year in the AHL. Now that the latter is here and actually playing in front of our eyes, we can wait a little bit longer until the inevitable happens and he is centering the top line. Because it is inevitable. Marco Rossi will be the Wild’s top center for a prolonged amount of time in the near future — whether it is next month or next year, it will eventually happen because he is just, simply put, so damn good.
And when that day comes, we will be jumping for joy along with everyone in the state of Minnesota. Patience sucks, but it can eventually be rewarding and when Rossi blossoms into that top-tier two-way player, it will be just a tad bit sweeter because we waited however long it takes. He is inevitable.