The Wild has a specific target in mind for its roster, a forward to skate lower in the lineup, but the team didn't acquire that player on Wednesday during the first hours of NHL free agency.
"Our team is pretty set," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "We're going to need one more body, so I feel like we can afford to wait."
Not only is the team almost at capacity, but the Wild also didn't have money to burn.
After the goalie swap on Tuesday that sent Cam Talbot to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, the Wild has about $4.3 million in salary cap space. Some of that, though, could get eaten up by players already in the system if they make the team, like Marco Rossi.
As it stands now, the Wild has 11 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies under contract.
"We'll see how the market unfolds in the next couple of days," Guerin said. "But I feel like we're in a really good position."
What the Wild did do on Day 1 of the league's signing season was bolster its organizational depth.
Forward Brandon Baddock and defenseman Andrej Sustr received one-year, two-way contracts, while forwards Steven Fogarty and Nic Petan secured two-year, two-way deals.
Free agency, however, isn't the Wild's only option to gain a bottom-six forward; the team could also make a trade, which Guerin didn't rule out.
"I just don't feel the need to go out and just sign somebody that we're maybe lukewarm on or don't love," said Guerin, who mentioned the team possibly finding a better fit in the future. "I just want to be patient."
Opportunity for Rossi
Rossi has been a veteran on the ice this week during the Wild's development camp at Tria Rink in St. Paul, one of the few prospects who has already played in the NHL.
But when he returns for training camp, he'll be a rookie vying to crack the team's lineup.
"I feel ready," Rossi said.
The 20-year-old center is coming off a solid debut in the American Hockey League in which he racked up 18 goals and 35 assists in 63 games, his first full season since 2019-20 after missing the beginning of 2021 while recovering from myocarditis.
Both he and Matt Boldy were summoned to the Wild in January, but only Boldy stuck around the NHL; after two games, Rossi returned to Iowa, and he felt the experience was beneficial as he adapted to competing against bigger competition than he faced in junior hockey.
"Last season, that was really good for me," said Rossi, whom the Wild drafted ninth overall in 2020. "I could play a lot of minutes in Iowa. I played in every situation, and I played a lot. So, I think that was for me the best thing to get better as a player.
"I feel ready now."
Even if the Wild brings in another forward, that shouldn't affect Rossi's opportunity.
Carrying 13 forwards is typical, and Rossi isn't projected to be a fourth liner; the Wild's philosophy is to put players in roles they're expected to have, and Rossi could be part of a revised top-nine in the aftermath of Kevin Fiala's trade to Los Angeles.
Still, he'll have to merit the look.
"He just has to come to camp and play his game," said Brad Bombardir, the Wild's director of player development. "He has to show up, and he has to show to everybody that he can earn a spot in the lineup."
On the move
After two seasons with the Wild, Nick Bjugstad joined Arizona on a one-year contract.
Nic Deslauriers also left, landing a four-year, $7 million deal from Philadelphia.
Guerin said as much as he would have loved to re-sign Deslauriers, whom the Wild traded for in-season from Anaheim, Guerin didn't think it would be possible with how much interest the rugged winger generated.
"He's a very unique player in the league nowadays," Guerin said. "All that attention was well-deserved."