The Wild from two years ago might not recognize today's version.
Much is different, even with the lineup that was eliminated from the playoffs by Vegas less than two months ago.
Such is the state of the Wild, where goodbyes and hellos have been on a loop during an overhaul that started out slowly before slamming on the gas.
And while the team continues to shift gears heading into a crucial offseason stretch, the constant in all the turnover is the philosophy in the driver's seat.
"We need to expect to win every time we step on the ice," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "We want to win the Stanley Cup, and that doesn't change. No matter what, that doesn't change."
If the departures of former fixtures like Mikko Koivu, Devan Dubnyk and Jason Zucker over the past year-plus weren't enough to suggest a shakeup was happening, the team's latest moves cleared up any confusion.
One-time faces of the franchise Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are gone, getting served with buyouts on Tuesday, four seasons before their identical 13-year, $98 million contacts and Wild tenures were set to expire.
"You see teams constantly changing," Guerin said. "You have to try to get better. We are trying to win, and we have to try to improve all the time and sometimes it takes very difficult decisions to do that."
Revising the roster
The exits by Parise and Suter ended an era when the Wild morphed into a competitor but not quite a championship contender. Dismissing those two left plenty of logistical repercussions.
The Wild has two additional holes to fill on its roster, and although the buyouts immediately created more flexibility – approximately $10 million in new cap space – those savings will soon be dwarfed by the cap charge of the buyouts. And this hit against the books will stay there for eight years, a potentially cumbersome cost that could make future roster maneuvering a challenge.
"We've planned out for all that stuff," Guerin said.
In the meantime, that extra cap space will come in handy.
Not only do reigning rookie of the year Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala need new contracts, but adding depth at center and/or wing is a possibility.
And the team's defense is looking lean, a position the Wild is expected to address with stop-gap solutions since the looming cap pinch from the buyouts would appear to make long-term commitments difficult.
Without Suter, the Wild has just four regulars signed for next season, and that number could drop to three if the team's unprotected defenseman is scooped up by Seattle in the expansion draft.
Either way, the Wild's shopping list for July 28 when NHL free agency opens will come into focus after the Kraken reveals its pick on Wednesday.
Eye on the future
By Friday, the spotlight shifts to the entry draft, where the Wild has a rare opportunity.
This is just the second time the team has had two picks in the first round, its own at No. 22 and No. 26 after acquiring it from Pittsburgh in the Zucker trade.
"We have five picks in the first three rounds," Guerin said. "So, we're starting to accumulate some prospects and guys that we really think are going to help impact our team in years to come. We've got high hopes for guys."
The need to draft and develop homegrown talent is already essential in a salary-cap world, but the stakes are magnified because of the Wild's finances.
When the team has nearly $15 million of its cap budget allocated to the Parise and Suter buyouts in two years, adding players on cheaper, entry-level contracts might be necessary.
Prospects Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi are on the team's radar. So are the likes of Calen Addison, Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime.
Roster spots won't be gifted, but there's more of an opportunity to merit ice time than in the past.
"It's a very competitive business, and we want guys to elevate their games and come in and take jobs," Guerin said. "Nobody's going to give you a job in this league. You have to come in and take one."
Despite ending in defeat in that Game 7 loss to the Golden Knights, the Wild's season closed with optimism.
Dubnyk was gone, but Cam Talbot steadied the crease. Koivu was gone, but new captain Jared Spurgeon and other veterans emerged as leaders. Zucker was gone, but Kaprizov and Fiala were making their own electrifying plays.
The team clicked even though it was in transition, an encouraging sign for a franchise still in flux. Some well-known players were shown the door, with Parise and Suter to follow, but winning remained a priority.
After all, just because the players are changing doesn't mean the expectations are.
"If we continue to build off what we did this year," Guerin said, "then we're heading in the right direction."