Just before the dismissal of Paul Fenton, the Minnesota Wild drafted Matt Boldy 12th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. Many fans preferred the “draft for need” approach, with goaltender Spencer Knight and center Alex Newhook still left on the board. To be fair, both were intriguing prospects that could fill legitimate holes in the organization. The brass opted to still take Boldy — an excellent player but an interesting choice given the others still waiting for their names to be called.
The selection of Boldy left many fans disappointed, especially with the fact that they could have taken Cole Caufield, who had an amazing playoff performance this past season.
To make matters worse, Boldy was unimpressive in the first half of his freshman season at Boston College. He struggled to adjust to college and ultimately missed the cut to be on the USA roster. He had just three points in his first 15 games, which made some people fear that he would end up joining Fenton’s other disastrous decisions.
The patience has paid off though as the Wild suddenly have a high-end winger who could be inserted into the lineup as soon as next season. After another roster upheaval this summer, including the buyout of Ryan Suter, it is paramount that young prospects like Calen Addison, Marco Rossi, and Boldy be difference-makers next season. Uncertainty remains, but the thought of adding three top prospects to the mix may not be as far from reality as it seemed.
Boldy eventually rebounded and became one of Boston College’s best players, finishing with 26 points in 34 games. He followed that up with a ridiculous 2020-21 campaign. Not only was he a point-per-game player with team USA in the World Juniors, but he had 31 points in 22 games with BC before joining the Iowa Wild.
The 20-year-old winger was electric in Iowa, scoring six goals and 18 points in 14 games. Boldy was a top-10 Hobey Baker nominee too. This is the point where it became a possibility that he could actually make the team out of training camp next season.
Boldy’s recovery isn’t all that shocking, though, because his talent is evident. He was recently ranked the 13th-best prospect in the NHL by Scott Wheeler of The Athletic. That’s not that surprising either given his two-way excellence and strong playmaking ability. The dynamic winger also has a powerful release and good spatial awareness with and without the puck. Furthermore, you can’t watch him without identifying his sneaky skating elements or his quick hands.
According to Hockey-Prospecting, Boldy has a 37% chance of developing into a star, which would be huge for the Wild.
In hindsight, it is clear that the 2019-20 campaign was an outlier because he seamlessly recovered from his early college struggles. Not only has he raised his stock, but he is on track to become a solid top-six winger, maybe even a top-line player in Minnesota if everything works out.
Reports suggested that the Wild wanted to add an additional forward, but they still haven’t despite there being some intriguing options on the market. This could be an indication that they are saving roster spots for both Boldy and Rossi.
If the Wild do give Boldy a shot at significant playing time next season, it could help determine what to do about Jordan Greenway. With Rossi and Boldy poised to join the top-six, and potentially a few others in the next couple of seasons, there isn’t an elevated role for Greenway, who will be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. While his point production increased this past season, his underlying numbers took a hit. This may be a good time to sell high on the young forward if he can produce a ton of points next season and Boldy shows he can be impactful at the NHL level.
While the Wild certainly want to avoid rushing his development, it’s important that they give him a chance to succeed when he has exhibited hints already that he is NHL-ready. If he is able to immediately step in as a middle-six producer, it would be huge for a team that will begin to face salary cap issues as soon as next summer.
The reality is that the Wild will be very exciting next season as they continue to retool by getting faster and younger.
This column is part of a series counting down the Minnesota Wild’s top-10 prospects following the conclusion of the 2021 NHL Draft. Boldy was ranked second by 10k Rinks staff, check back Monday to see who has been heralded as the best prospect in the organization.