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2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Outlook: Minnesota Wild

Minnesota will be without Kevin Fiala, but Kirill Kaprizov should still be one of the best players in the NHL this season. Jason Chen breaks down the fantasy impact of the Wild ahead of 2022-23.
Kirill Kaprizov

The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak.

To help you along, here’s your fantasy outlook for the Minnesota Wild:

2022-23 Fantasy Outlook: Minnesota Wild

Last season: 53-22-7, 2nd Central, 5th overall. GF: 5th, GA: 16th, PP: 18th, PK: 25th.

Kirill Kaprizov is arguably the best Wild player ever. Marian Gaborik also did a lot of heavy lifting by himself, but he wasn’t a potential league MVP like Kaprizov, and the Wild’s playoff hopes live and die with him. He helped the Wild to a franchise-best 53 wins and 113 points and were certainly one of the more intriguing teams because they seemed to be far better than the sum of their parts. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter may have overstayed their welcome. Still, the Wild had, objectively speaking, lost two solid players from their lineup and replacing them wouldn't be easy because of the cap penalties.

When GM Bill Guerin recognized that this team could go on a long playoff run, and with some added urgency knowing that re-signing Kevin Fiala would be impossibly difficult, he took a home-run swing at Marc-Andre Fleury. The hope was that Fleury’s championship pedigree could help win the Wild a series or two, or at worst, form a very good 1-2 combination not seen since the Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez tag team. In the end, the rest of the team was just too thin against a Blues team that boasted nine 20-goal scorers, and the Wild were ousted in the opening round for the sixth team in seven seasons. The Wild finished their playoff run understanding that getting back to where they were will be even tougher in the future with a combined $12.7 million in cap penalties for the Suter and Parise buyouts.

Best fantasy option: Kirill Kaprizov, LW

There’s no question, and nobody comes close. Both BetMGM’s over/under points bet and THN Pool Guide’s projection has Kaprizov scoring in the triple digits. His 108-point campaign last season set many franchise records, and even at a relatively deep position, Kaprizov is an easy first-round draft choice in standard fantasy leagues. He’s one of the few wingers who can amass points by himself, not needing an elite center to feed him passes or another elite winger to play on the opposite side to distract opposing defenses. How vital was Kaprizov to the Wild offense?

According to naturalstattrick.com, at 5-on-5, Kaprizov’s Individual Point Percentage among skaters with 1,000 TOI is second-best in the league at 83.78%. That means, for every goal the Wild scored with Kaprizov was on the ice, there was an 83.78% chance he had earned a point. He was a big reason the Wild managed to rank fifth in GF/GP when their defense wasn’t particularly stout and their special teams anything but special.

Hidden gems: Matt Boldy, LW/RW and Marcus Foligno, LW/RW

Boldy belongs in the conversation with the likes of Cole Caufield, and not just because they two were teammates on perhaps the best under-18 National Team Development Program team ever assembled. Drafted three slots ahead of Caufield, Boldy doesn’t possess the same kind of goal-scoring prowess but is likewise projected to be a very good top-six scoring winger. After starting the season with AHL Iowa, Boldy ended the season with the Wild and finished with 39 points in just 47 games. Fiala’s departure leaves a gaping hole up front, and Boldy is the most likely candidate to fill it. Mats Zuccarello is getting old and not a part of the Wild’s forward-looking plan, while Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno lack the talent to be reliable top-six scorers. Boldy is projected to score 57 points, according to THN’s Pool Guide, but BetMGM has set the over/under for Boldy’s point total at 75. Fantasy managers looking for scoring upside in the middle rounds should target Boldy, who should also be one of 2022-23’s top breakout candidates. His possession numbers were very good, and note that he seems to be already a focal point of their offense with 17 first assists out of 24 total assists.

As for Foligno, he is incredibly valuable in banger leagues. He would otherwise go undrafted, but if he can offer 20 goals and 40 points with 200-plus hits every season – think Tom Wilson lite – he should have a spot on every roster. Even if he’s not worth a regular spot, the massive amount of hits Foligno can pile him makes him an ideal weekly play for fantasy managers who need a lot of hits immediately. Foligno should be widely available in the late rounds of most standard fantasy drafts.

Goalies

Moving Cam Talbot means Fleury is the undisputed starter with Filip Gustavsson most likely serving as the backup. Serious question, though: are we sure Fleury is that good? He’s a three-time Cup champion and a Vezina winner, but there have been instances – a few times in Pittsburgh, the season before his Vezina in Vegas – where he’s looked totally out of sorts. The Wild’s special teams need to improve, but that will be difficult with Fiala gone from the power play and Dmitry Kulikov gone from the penalty kill, and note that over the past five seasons, Fleury ranks only 33rd among 77 goalies (min. 1,000 TOI) with a 0.03 GSAA/60 at 5-on-5. It’s not bad, but the upside for Fleury seems capped, and further note that he had a 3.06 GAA in the last two months of the season and didn’t even start the final elimination game of their playoff series.

That being said, Guerin clearly trusts Fleury, which means he could be in line for a massive workload. He finished 11th last season with 56 appearances, and Gustavsson is coming off an ugly 5-12-1/.892/3.55 season and likely won’t be trusted until proven otherwise. At this point in his career, it’s hard to see Fleury provide top-10 upside among fantasy goalies, given that he will be 38 years old in November with declining ability and durability on a team that could be good. At worst, he’s a starting calibre-goalie but at the lower end of the spectrum. Fantasy managers who roster Fleury will have to keep a vigilant eye on fatigue and his matchups.

Outlook

If you look beyond Kaprizov, the Wild offer some solid depth options. Boldy represents the highest upside, but don’t forget about Joel Eriksson Ek, who has already earned Selke votes over the past two seasons and should supplant Ryan Hartman as the undisputed No. 1 center this season. Foligno offers hits, Mats Zuccarello offers points, and defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba sprinkle on a little bit of everything. Dumba, in particular, has increased value in banger leagues with hits and blocked shots, but he has not been able to stay healthy and his offensive production could be better. One more name to think about: top prospect Marco Rossi, who was tied for the lead in scoring with AHL Iowa one season after sitting out an entire year due to long COVID and a Calder candidate this season. 

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