Next up in your fantasy hockey team preview series is the Minnesota Wild.
This is the first of the two dreaded dead cap years for the Wild. The sting of the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise buyouts hits in full force with $14.74 million in dead cap space. The Wild were eerily quiet in free agency throughout the summer.
Any gaps in this roster will need to be filled internally. There has never been a team in the cap era to enter a season with this large a handicap and expected the team to compete. Dean Everson will need his young players to step up more than ever before to push the Wild into a playoff spot. He’ll also need a bit of wizardry to pull this off.
2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview
Kirill Kaprizov stirs the drink in Minnesota. He is their star and he should be a first-round fantasy pick. An injury robbed Kaprizov of a run at 50 goals and a potential 90-point season. Healthy, he is a lock for 40 goals and 85 points. The upside grows from there. His 108-point season wasn’t an aberration. He is a threat to break 100 points every year. The concern, if there is any, about him reaching that mark is the talent around him. There isn’t a center on the roster capable of carrying the play with Kaprizov. Ryan Hartman and Erickson Ek are great players but their offensive upside is limited. Kaprizov needs reinforcements to help. I fear he may not get the insulation to hit his ceiling this year, or next. Ninety points is what I expect this and next year.
Ryan Hartman has drawn the majority of 5×5 ice time as Kaprizov’s center. At best, he’s a 55-60 fantasy option. It is unlikely he will repeat his 65-point season. Most likely, he provides 50-55 points, half of which should be goals. Hartman’s real fantasy value lies in multi-cat leagues, where he puts up a hit per game and gobbles up penalty minutes.
Now 36, Zuccarello is closing in on age-enforced regression. I expect a strong start to the year but watch the wear and tear of the long season. It will provide clues to the longevity of Zuccarello’s career. We should see slippage in his production from last year. Riding shotgun to Kaprizov, Zuccarello will remain a late-round option. Another 60-plus-point season is in the cards. Keep a close eye on his production as we get deeper into the year, this might be a player you consider replacing.
Luckily, Matt Boldy sits in the wings. He has been nothing short of dynamite since joining the Wild. Last year’s 63 points was no fluke. His breakout threshold lines up with the beginning of 2024-2025. No matter what he does this year, there’s a real possibility he has another gear.
For this year, expect him to add at least ten points to last year’s total. Not only did Boldy pot 31 goals, but he also had 255 shots, not too shabby for his first full NHL season. Boldy is a budding star. He looks destined to become a perennial 40-goal, 80-point threat. He is the second-best fantasy forward on the Wild.
Is this the year Marco Rossi finally sticks with the Wild? The Wild sure hopes so. He’s a dynamic playmaker who closed in on a point-per-game in his second AHL season, 51 in 53. He will get every opportunity to make the team in training camp and prove he’s ready to make an impact. A lot of teams will provide rookies with third-line minutes to shelter them from top-line matchups. As soon as he is ready for more minutes, he’ll get them. Keeping expectations reasonable, a good first season would be in the 40-point range.
For most one-year pools, Rossi isn’t an option to consider. In dynasties or leagues with prospects, I am targeting Rossi. This is likely the last opportunity to buy low.
Joel Erickson Ek is a really strong two-way center, but he’s not Patrice Bergeron. There’s not much more in the production tank than the 61 points he produced last year. A really solid depth center to round out your roster but not someone that’s going to put up gawdy stats.
If you need peripherals and a little bit of offense sprinkled in, Marcus Foligno is a dark horse option. He will give you 200 hits, 100 PIM, and has a 23-goal season under his belt. If you roster him, you do it for the peripherals. The production is a bonus.
This is a weakness for the Wild. Jared Spurgeon would not be my first choice to run a power play. Yet, here we are. There’s a reason the Wild traded for John Klingberg at the trade deadline. Offense from the defense is lacking. Spurgeon is an okay option on the power play but doesn’t have the skill set to run it like Zack Werenski or even Rasmus Dahlin. He’s more of a placeholder until Calen Addison is ready to take over.
Speaking of Addison, he made good strides last year and was productive on the power play. He played sheltered minutes, which limited his ice time to 16:07 per game. With 18 of his 29 points on the power play, it’s pretty clear the Wild kept him in the lineup for for this reason. They don’t yet trust him defensively. This was crystal clear in the playoffs, only seeing action in three games. He’s not the first defensive prospect to need sheltered minutes.
Expect Addison to increase his ice time and gain trust 5 on 5. This should result in a bump offensively. There’s a chance he can hit 40 this year.
There isn’t a third option worth discussing on the Wild. Brock Faber could make the team out of camp but he doesn’t project to be an impact offensive option. Alex Goligoski is already in full decline and may see some healthy scratches this year due to this.
It’s Filip Gustavsson’s net. Last year he went out and outperformed Marc-Andre Fleury. They alternated games for most of last season. As they did, it became clear that Fleury’s time as a starting goalie was coming to an end. Gustavsson, taking the starting job was more about the season he had than about the season Fleury didn’t have. Gustavsson was simply lights out. With a .931 SVPCT AND A 2.19 GAA, Gustavsson had himself an incredible year.
We can only hope Gustavsson can repeat those numbers. His starts should increase from 39, closer to 55. There is little room for Gustavsson to falter, or even waver. Arguably, the best goalie prospect in the game, Jesper Walstedt sits in the wings.
Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @doylelb4; where you’ll find as many hiking musings as you will fantasy hockey.
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!