MINNEAPOLIS — Forgive some Wild fans if they’re currently salivating over the team’s potential No. 1 power play, which could feature Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala on the outside, Zach Parise in front of the net, Matt Dumba on the half wall and Jared Spurgeon manning the point.
That’s some serious firepower the Wild have been lacking the past few seasons.
Those players worked together in Tuesday’s practice, and while there were no defenders in their faces, coach Dean Evason was still impressed with the way the puck snapped from tape to tape.
“That’s certainly what we’re trying to see,” the coach said. “Now, it’s easy to feel the power play is great when it’s 5 on 0 up the ice and we move it around in the zone with no checkers. We will continue to evaluate, and hopefully it continues to impress us and get better. We do see that chemistry amongst different people that we are hoping to see.”
The most glaring weakness of the No. 1 power play is that it doesn’t feature a true center. That would explain why Parise has been working on faceoffs throughout training camp. It sounds as if the Wild will be relying on him to take the draws.
“He was 60-something percent last season, I believe,” Evason said. “He was a natural center. He’s very confident in the circle. There’s no question that we feel very comfortable and confident if and when Zach takes faceoffs.”
Meanwhile, the No. 2 power play has the potential to be effective in its own right with Marcus Johansson and Nick Bjugstad on the outside, Nick Bonino in front of the net, Brad Hunt on the half wall and Ryan Suter manning the point.
“We actually talked to the group right at the start that we don’t have a No. 1 unit,” Evason said. “And going forward, we aren’t going to have a No. 1 unit or a No. 2 unit. It’s just going to be our power-play unit. It’s going to be the Minnesota Wild power-play unit and whoever is on it.”
Marco Rossi is still in the midst of his mandatory quarantine after arriving in the Twin Cities over the weekend. He was playing in the World Junior Championships, where Team Austria bowed out after group play.
While the first-round draft pick has made it clear he wants to play this season in the NHL, and will be given every opportunity to prove himself in the coming weeks, it sounds like the Wild plan to bring him along slowly once he gets on the ice.
“He’s going to be missing a lot of time, even though he skated clearly at a very high level,” Evason said. “We will talk to (trainer John Worley) and the medical staff and make sure that we’re not putting too much on him. No different than if we had somebody coming off an injury. We’ll try to not throw him into the fire, obviously, into really high-paced drills and stuff. We’ll probably start with some individual stuff and then move him into the team structure.”
When will he be cleared?
“Not 100 percent,” Evason said. “It should be (Friday or Saturday).”
Wild prospect Matt Boldy continues to dazzle for Team USA at the World Junior Championships, most recently scoring an impressive goal in Tuesday’s semifinal, then blocking a shot in the waning seconds to help secure a victory over Team Finland.
Maybe former general manager Paul Fenton knew what he was doing when he selected Boldy in the first round of the 2019 draft. There’s no doubt current general manager Bill Guerin is excited to have him in the prospect pool.
“He’s continued to impress all of us,” Evason said. “He looks big, strong, composed. His hands through the whole tournament have been great. I think mostly what I’ve noticed is his willingness to compete, his willingness to get to the net, and he’s scored some big goals for the United States.”
As for the outcome between Team USA and Team Canada in Wednesday’s final, it sounds as if there is money on the line for the Wild coaching staff.
“Lots of bets,” Evason said with a smile.