The 2022 season had a definite “all-in” feel for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild had a phenomenal regular season with a 53-22-7 record, good for 113 points, just six behind the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche.
GM Bill Guerin took a big swing at the trade deadline, acquiring reigning Vezina Trophy Winner Marc-Andre Fleury in an attempt to bolster the club's goaltending heading into the stretch run.
There were many bright spots. Superstar Kirill Kaprizov improved on his fantastic rookie season with a 108-point campaign, Kevin Fiala had 85 points and Mats Zuccarello was over a point per game. However, the season ended in disappointment as the Wild lost to the St. Louis Blues in a hard-fought first-round series.
Now faced with some tough decisions in the off-season, Guerin has a lot of work ahead of him to keep this team near the top of the very strong Central Division.
The aforementioned Colorado Avalanche unsurprisingly sit atop the odds board to win the 2023 Stanley Cup at +400, but the Wild also appear in the top 10 with odds of +1800 to win it all. Considering the salary cap crunch Minnesota is about to face it will be extremely tough for the Wild to get back to the level they were in 2022 and cash in for Minnesota sports fans and bettors.
Minnesota sports betting is not legal, unfortunately for those wanting to wager on the Wild in the state.
Attempts to get mobile and retail sports betting in Minnesota failed to pass through the state Senate before the final day of session in May.
2023 Stanley Cup Futures Odds
Salary Cap Issues for Wild
The toughest obstacles facing this team are the salary cap penalties due to the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise two summers ago.
Those penalties get quite severe for the next three seasons with $12 million in dead money counting against the cap for next year and more than $14 million the two years after that.
A large majority of the team is signed for next season, but the cap crunch likely means that pending RFA and second-leading scorer Fiala will likely have to be moved instead of re-signed.
If not Fiala, the Wild have been rumored to be shopping defenseman Matt Dumba, who is one of three defenseman on the squad making at least $6 million annually.
At the moment Minnesota has just over $6 million in cap space, which won’t be enough to re-sign Fiala and it isn’t enough to address the goaltending situation, as only Cam Talbot is signed for next year.
Changes are Inevitable
No matter how you look at it, there will have to be changes to this roster from last year as much as Minnesota probably doesn’t want there to be.
The shopping list won’t be huge as the roster seems to be settled at most positions; it is just a matter of finding a way to re-sign or replace Fiala and finding another goalie to pair with Talbot.
Minnesota has a couple of nice prospects in the pipeline that could jump up and fill Fiala’s scoring role, most notably Marco Rossi, who had a strong year in the AHL.
If Rossi can come in and have an immediate impact like Matt Boldy did midway through last season the offense will be able to handle the likely loss of Fiala.
Most importantly, they still have Kaprizov on the roster and he has established himself as one of the most-dynamic players in the league, keeping the offense dangerous at all times.
What Will The Wild Do in the Draft?
Heading into the NHL Entry Draft on July 7-8 Minnesota has the 24th overall selection. The most likely outcome is the Wild making a pick and stocking their prospect cupboard. Or they could use it as bait to try and get another team to take on a contract and offer them some salary cap relief.
With their lack of options, they will most likely be one of the quieter teams at the draft and their Stanley Cup odds will likely remain unchanged throughout.
With Kaprizov still improving this team always has a chance, but the instability in net and the lack of salary cap flexibility makes it impossible to consider betting on them to win the 2023 Stanley Cup, especially at odds of +1800.
Once the draft is over and moves are made in free agency their odds will likely drop unless Guerin manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat and keep the roster intact from the previous season.