Wild general manager Bill Guerin made a point of changing things up with his lagging franchise this offseason, and he accomplished that by trading away some of the most recognizable players on the roster.
While constants such as veteran winger Zach Parise and veteran defenseman Ryan Suter remain, along with new captain Jared Spurgeon and rising star Kevin Fiala, the Wild lineup for Thursday’s 9 p.m. season opener against the Kings in Los Angeles will look a lot different than it has in the past.
That makes the Wild extremely tough to project going into this season.
If all the new pieces mesh successfully, the Wild have a chance to surprise some people in the newly formed West Coast division. If they don’t, the condensed 56-game schedule could feel like an eternity for players and fans alike.
Here’s a line by line (and pairing by pairing) breakdown of the team’s lineup:
FIRST LINE: ZACH PARISE-NICK BJUGSTAD-KIRILL KAPRIZOV
Upon first glance, having Bjugstad serve as the No. 1 center is alarming. The former Blaine High School and Gophers star has battled injuries the past few seasons, and hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype after going in the first round of the 2010 draft. But Bjugstad has flirted with 50-point seasons in the past, and with skilled players like Parise and Kaprizov next to him, he might be able to reach that level once again. You know what to expect out…