Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the St. Louis Blues and the NHL season is officially over, we can look way ahead to next season. Except way ahead really isn’t that far – as in next week.
Beginning with the NHL draft next Friday and Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Wild will make moves to assemble its 2019-20 squad. The draft is the first big event of an offseason that – just like summer – will go quicker than many expect.
Here is a look at some key events and dates for the Wild:
NHL draft, June 21-22
Because the Wild didn’t make the playoffs, it will be selecting at No. 12 overall, Minnesota’s highest draft spot since it took defenseman Matt Dumba at No. 7 overall in 2012. Whom will the Wild take with its first-round pick? That’s to be determined, with scorers such as Cole Caufield of the U.S. National Development Team Program and Arthur Kaliyev of the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs possibly available.
Wild General Manager Paul Fenton and his staff need to get this pick right. Fenton, only a month into his Wild job in 2018 signed off on the team selecting Swedish defenseman Filip Johansson at No. 24 last year. Johansson was considered by many draft observers to be a reach, and he didn’t quiet criticism when he notched only one goal and three assists for Leksands in Sweden’s Tier II league in the 2018-19 season.
The biggest news for the Wild at the draft might involve Jason Zucker. Twice this spring, Fenton has tried to trade the speedy winger. A deal with Calgary at the trade deadline fell apart. And in May, a trade of Zucker and Victor Rask to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson was torpedoed when Kessel refused to waive his no-trade clause to go to Minnesota. “We had a trade and at that point he didn’t want to go,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. “That’s it.”
Development camp, opens June 24
The Wild brings in draft picks and other hopefuls for a week of instruction and evaluation.
Free agency, opens 11 a.m. July 1
The Wild is expected to have around $20 million in salary cap space, which means Fenton should be making some moves. If he trades Zucker in a package deal, that could free up a roster spot for a high-value free agent. Might Islanders winger Anders Lee, a former Edina standout, be a target for the Wild? As team captain, he’ll be tough to pry away from Long Island.
Da Beauty League, opens July 10
Braemar Arena in Edina will be a hopping place as Minnesota-based NHL standouts, minor-leaguers and college players gather over seven weeks with games that get them ready for NHL training camps. Last year, the Canucks’ Brock Boeser of Burnsville wowed the crowds by collecting 16 goals and 18 assists in nine games.
NHL prospect tournament, September
This eight-team event in Traverse City, Mich., has been a staple for the Wild, which won the tournament in 2003 and ’10.
Training camp, September
The Wild on Thursday announced its 2019-20 preseason schedule, which begins Sept. 17 at home against Dallas. The team will have six preseason games, three at home. Training camp will open shortly before the preseason.