The Wild's top prospects will start the season in the minors and not the NHL.
Despite impressive auditions during training camp, youngsters Adam Beckman, Marco Rossi and Calen Addison were ultimately cut on Saturday and assigned to the American Hockey League, finalizing the Wild's opening-night roster.
Matt Boldy suffered a fractured left ankle in a preseason game on Thursday and is expected to be out four to six weeks.
Iowa standout Brandon Duhaime snared the last forward spot up for grabs.
"They can all play," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "They can all play in the league right now. There's no doubt, but we need them to be impact players.
"In our opinion right now, the best thing for them is to go to Iowa and play a ton, play in all situations, play as much as possible. That will help them get to where they need to be to be impactful."
This was one of the more competitive camps the Wild has had in recent memory because of the performance by the prospects.
Beckman scored four goals in four preseason games, Rossi improved every time he played, and Addison rebounded from a slow start to camp.
But the top-six roles that suit forwards like Beckman and Rossi weren't available in the Wild lineup; the team had an opening on the fourth line, and Rem Pitlick snagged the seat next to Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau after the Wild scooped him on waivers last Tuesday.
With Addison, he was boxed out on defense by the offseason acquisitions of veterans Jon Merrill and Jordie Benn.
"We don't want these guys sitting in the stands playing 8-10 minutes a game," Guerin said. "We want them playing a lot of minutes, a lot of games, a lot of different situations."
Guerin relayed the news to everyone individually with coach Dean Evason and called their exits part of the development process.
"We have a plan for these guys," Guerin said. "They will be here someday. I don't know if it's a month from now or six months from now or eight months from now. But they will be here."
For Rossi, he's on the brink of his first action as a pro in North America after he missed last season while recovering from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Beckman had a handful of games in Iowa last season but otherwise was in the Western Hockey League.
"A little bit disappointing," Beckman said, "but at the same time, you know it's all for development purposes. That's kind of the way I'm looking at it. Just to continue to try and get better and kind of use it as maybe not motivation but just another way to get better and hope that I could one day get there."
As for Boldy, his season is on hold after getting hurt.
He went down awkwardly in the corner during a play along the boards in the third period of the Wild's 3-2 overtime win against Chicago at Xcel Energy Center. Guerin said it'll be up to Boldy to decide between surgery or rehab. He'll be designated an injured non-roster player.
"Disappointing, clearly," Evason said. "He's had a wonderful camp."
These players were vying alongside Duhaime for a spot up front, and Duhaime stood out immediately at camp with his quickness, strength and physical edge. The 24-year-old winger played for Iowa the past two seasons.
"He had an unbelievable camp," Guerin said. "That's a fun message to deliver. He took it really well."
Duhaime was in the lineup Saturday when the Wild wrapped up its preseason schedule at Chicago.
Merrill subbed in for Jonas Brodin (maintenance), and the Wild recalled goalie Andrew Hammond from Iowa to back up Kaapo Kahkonen after Cam Talbot was scratched due to a personal matter.
Talbot is still expected to travel with the team for its upcoming trip to Duluth and be the starter when the Wild opens the season Friday at Anaheim.
"I like our group," Guerin said. "I'm confident in them. They're all super excited to get the season going, and I like this group a lot."
Wild falls in final tuneup
Jonathan Toews scored two power-play goals, Ryan Carpenter scored shorthanded and host Chicago beat the Wild 5-1 to end the preseason. Ryan Hartman scored 2:42 into the game, but that was it for the Wild, outshot by Chicago 37-26.