NHL Projection Models Love the Minnesota Wild

Photo: Sports Illustrated

The 2022-23 Minnesota Wild regular season starts on Thursday vs the New York Rangers. They enter with a lot of the same faces but a couple of notable changes. Kevin Fiala, the team’s second-leading goal scorer last season, was traded to the LA Kings. Cam Talbot is out too, after he refused to share net-minding duties with Marc-Andre Fleury.

And it’s those two offseason moves, along with concern up the middle, that have many Wild fans nervous about the upcoming season. For good reason, too. Losing an 80-point scorer entering his prime and trusting a declining 38-year-old goalie are both worthy concerns.

Projection Models Love Wild

Unless you ask all of the NHL projection models on the internet. Models from Evolving Hockey, The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight.com all have the Minnesota Wild as a playoff team and the class of the Central Division, right behind Colorado.

They point to the emergence of Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi as major contributors to the Wild’s projected success. But really, the analytical optimism in these models stems from rising superstar Kirill Kaprizov. FiveThirtyEight.com is least optimistic (100 points, 76% playoff odds) but didn’t have any explanations to go with their projections.

The Athletic and Evolving Hockey are more bullish about the 2022-23 Wild, putting their playoff odds at over 90%.

FiveThirtyEight: 100 Points | Playoffs: 76% | NHL: 10th | Central: 3rd

The Athletic: 105.5 Points | Playoffs: 94% | NHL: 5th | Central: 2nd

And so that means the most optimistic projection yet for the Wild: 106 points and a one-in-10 shot at winning it all. It’s a massive jump from last year’s 97.8-point projection and that’s because the model wanted to see the Wild repeat the magic from Kaprizov’s rookie season. They did, finishing fifth in the league with 113 points. In the Kaprizov era, the Wild have played at a 112-point pace — they deserve a lofty point projection.

Evolving Hockey: 104 Points | Playoffs: 93% | NHL: 8th | Central: 2nd

Minnesota baby, right? With the continued improvement of Kirill Kaprizov, the out-of-nowhere surge in Ryan Hartman’s production, and young talents in Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi, the Wild are still projected to be an easy lock for the playoffs. And while their defensemen group isn’t what is used to be, Jared Spurgeon has so far shown no signs of aging, and Calen Addison is nice upgrade over Jordie Benn. Poor Arizona.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan