After four consecutive years of missing the playoffs and accumulating draft picks quickly, the Minnesota Wild may be about to start reaping benefits.
There is considerable talent in abundance for all positions on the ice that can grow together, with prime-aged stars like Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter signed long term as pillars on which the prospects can lean. Now all the team has to do is watch its young hopefuls earn their way into the lineup as roles slowly start to open up.
"It's hard to know exactly how much these kids will do,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said at the end of a disappointing 2011-12 season. "I'm not expecting, I'm hoping for one or two surprises. We're not going to put anyone on the team -- they'll have to earn it."