Are the New Era Minnesota Wild For Real?

PHOTO: ELIZABETH FLORES – STAR TRIBUNE

After an offseason that was headlined by two franchise shattering moves, the buyouts of aging Wild icons, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, a new era for the Minnesota Wild has officially begun.

The transition period, however, really began last year. It didn’t take long for new GM Bill Guerin and head coach Dean Evason to start elevating young players like Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin Fiala, methodically pushing veterans down the pecking order, most notably Zach Parise. But the changing of guard was finalized when Parise and Suter were bought out this offseason. And then what happened?

Early Returns?

Well so far, the Minnesota Wild have flourished. They’re 3-0 to start the 2021 season, capturing all six possible points. Two of those points came against new/old division rival, Winnipeg. But is this team for real? Can we really expect this cap-deprived, young Wild team to compete for a Stanley Cup already…?

Let’s ask Billy what he thinks.

“This is about fucking winning.” There are few general managers around Minnesota sports that have excited me as much as Bill Guerin. He’s played on two Stanley Cup winners so he knows what it takes to build a winner. The new-look Wild have been built in Bill’s image. Their success will shape his reputation as a front office executive.

Great teams win the tough games

We can’t know how the season will finish based off of the first three games. But the Wild have to be taken seriously after winning two out West before returning to beat the Jets in thrilling comeback fashion. Minnesota struggled all night with offensive zone turnovers, an uncomfortable goaltender and a defense that couldn’t keep skaters in front of them.

But somehow, with the help of a late Winnipeg goal that was reversed, the Wild pulled out the win in their home-opener. Great teams win close games, even when they’re not playing their best hockey. All three Wild victories have been by a one-goal margin.

First, Cam Talbot stopped a Jets two-on-one rush before the Wild’s elite young trio of Kaprizov, Fiala, and Eriksson Ek came the other way to pot the winner. From Talbot’s save to the tic-tac-toe finish, it was beautiful.

The Xcel Energy Center hasn’t been full since March, 2020 so the night was going to be magical either way. But to pull out victory in comeback fashion hit different.

The Wild are taking over the state of hockey

It’s about time we get to watch a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in Minnesota. Sure, it’s only been three games, but the key pieces to last season’s playoff roster are still here and getting better every day. This isn’t the NBA, where 3-4 teams are crowned NBA Champions before the first game tips.

If your team has chemistry and the type of talent this Minnesota Wild roster employs, anything is possible… even a Stanley Cup. Kirill Kaprizov might be the $9 million headliner but the leadership of Marcus Foligno and Jared Spurgeon has taken this team by storm too.

Bill Guerin felt changing the culture in the Minnesota locker room was the most important step to delivering a cup to the State of Hockey. So far, so good. Let’s just buckle up and hope our new leader knows best..

Cooper Carlson | Minnesota Sports Fan