SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The offseason trades that teed up a roster makeover for the Wild guaranteed just that, that the team would be different.
What wasn't promised was that Marcus Johansson, Nick Bonino and Nick Bjugstad would fit in with the group and have a positive impact.
But more than halfway through the season, that's exactly how their Wild debuts have gone.
"It's pretty easy to acclimate when guys are welcoming and nice," Bonino said. "Pretty happy with where we are as a team in the standings. Personally, just trying to get better and better. Yeah, it's been good."
New players have been key for the Wild.
Kirill Kaprizov has revitalized the offense, Ian Cole slid in seamlessly on defense after his trade in January, and Kaapo Kahkonen is one half of a goaltending tandem with free-agent pickup Cam Talbot that's statistically one of the best in the NHL.
Recently, though, it's been the first wave of veteran arrivals that has stolen the spotlight.
Since returning from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for 16 games, Johansson has bolstered a top-nine missing Marcus Foligno (injured) and Zach Parise (COVID-19 list).
He has scored in each of his past two games and assisted on the tying goal Monday that helped secure the Wild a point in a 4-3 shootout loss to San Jose. That savvy was expected when the Wild added him from Buffalo in exchange for Eric Staal.
"I feel like my game's got going a little bit better and better the last few games since I got back," Johansson said.
Where he could continue to shine is as a complement to Kevin Fiala, who has a goal and two assists in his past two games alongside Johansson.
Not only could their chemistry ignite Fiala, who hasn't had a consistent sidekick this season like some of the other Wild forwards, but their partnership brings more balance to the lineup.
"We find each other," Fiala said. "We look for each other, and it's just been great. But we have to keep going. It can go the other way, too, and we don't want that. So we have to stay with it and work hard and compete."
Bonino is the latest to take a turn next to the Jordan Greenway-Joel Erikson Ek combo, and the line made an immediate splash. It delivered one of the slickest goals of the season Monday when Bonino one-timed an Eriksson Ek pass off the rush after Eriksson Ek executed a perfect toe drag on Nikolai Knyzhov.
A center on the fourth line most of the season, Bonino earned a promotion because of his strong play, which has stemmed from his diligence on the penalty kill and his proficiency at faceoffs. And even though he was at right wing and not center, Bonino capitalized on the opportunity.
"I felt like we put in a lot of meaningful shifts," said Bonino, who came over in a trade that sent Luke Kunin to Nashville.
Both Johansson and Bonino have been versatile, but the player who's roved the most is Bjugstad.
Aside from suiting up at center and wing, Bjugstad has also been at both ends of the depth chart — working with Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello and filling out a fourth line that's been one of the steadiest the Wild has had the past few weeks. Ten of Bjugstad's 13 points have come since Feb. 24.
"Honestly, I'm fine with it," said Bjugstad, acquired from Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick. "I think I said at the beginning of the year I just want to come in and help this team in whatever way I can."
So far, that's been the legacy of his trade.
Same with the deals that brought in Johansson and Bonino.
That's not the way it always works, but these projections have panned out for the Wild.
"The guys have committed to being team guys and have been patient," coach Dean Evason said, "and fortunately we've had some success in going through that process."