It’s already August, and training camp and the start of the preseason are quickly approaching. We are a month into free agency, and the Wild have yet to sign anyone to a one-way contract. They still have $4.3 million in cap space to fill the role of a 12th or 13th-forward and seem to be waiting patiently.
With the current cap situation, it’s also possible that the Wild plan to promote within and save that $4.3 million for later in the season. If they decide to promote within, there are some exciting options for fans. So let’s check out who can fill these roles up to training camp.
Marco Rossi is the first on the list and most likely to crack the roster out of camp. The ninth overall pick in 2020 had 53 points in 63 games in his first pro season down in Des Moines. Rossi will most likely crack the opening night roster unless he slumps during the preseason.
Beckman had a strong preseason last year but didn’t do much in the AHL, mainly playing a Bottom-6 role. Still, Beckman meshed well with the team last year during his All-Star-like preseason.
“I love Becks,” alternate captain Marcus Foligno said. “He’s just one of these young kids that has come along, and he’s just infectious in the room. Very chatty, very talkative, and I think it’s just great. But not only is he talking the talk, he’s walking the walk, and that’s great to see. He’s really making a name for himself being noticeable this camp.”
Beckman’s playstyle is not suited to fit a 12 or 13th-forward role, but it may be just what he needs to get his toes wet in the NHL and move up the ranks.
Calen Addison is ready to play in the NHL; he just needs a spot to open up. Jon Merrill went down with an injury during the World Championship in May, and it was reported that he might miss the start of the season. This may be the lucky (or unlucky if you are Merrill) break that Addison needs to earn a spot on an NHL team.
Joseph Cramarossa is entering his third year with the Wild organization, and the 29-year-old has only played in five NHL games during his tenure here. Cramarossa would be a good option as an extra forward because he has some NHL experience and can step in in a pinch. If he is on the NHL roster, an AHL roster spot opens up for a younger player trying to develop.
If further injury or possibly even a trade depletes the defensive depth, they could turn to a low-cost free agent. Andrej Sustr is a big body looking for an NHL role. He’s 31 and has 361 games of NHL experience over 10 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks. His 6’7” frame would fill out the bottom pair nicely.
Mason Shaw looked decent in a few games in the NHL last year and has overcome quite a bit of adversity after tearing his ACL three times. However, he put up 52 points in 62 games in Iowa last year. He may be on the opening day roster if he impresses at camp.
Nick Swaney had a very hot start to the AHL season last year but cooled down as the year went on. He will be 25 next month, and this year will be a big year for him. He is no longer in the development stage of his career.
This will also be a very big and telling year for Mitchell Chaffee. He turns 25 in January and made a big step in his career last year, scoring 23 goals for the Iowa Wild. The former UMass captain may also earn a spot out of camp if he impresses, especially since Jordan Greenway is expected to miss the start of the season due to injury.
Jesper Wallstedt is the Wild’s goalie of the future and has put up elite numbers against men as an 18- and 19-year-old in the Swedish Hockey League. Bill Guerin has been clear that he does not want to rush prospects along, but if he shows he is ready in the preseason, Guerin may make an exemption to his pay your dues in the minors rule.
Next season is the start of cap hell. Therefore, the Wild will need all these players to step in over the next three years while they are on cheap contracts. However, only a select few will get to contribute come October.