|Marion Gaborik (AP)|
The wild are the youngest team in the NHL, along with their expansion brothers in Columbus, so you aren't going to have a team with gray-haired veterans. Whether that's a good or bad thing is yet to be seen.
Gaborik was the very first selection by the Wild, taken third overall in the 2000 draft. He's also the franchise's best player and it's not really close. He'll go back to top billing in Minnesota alongside Koivu, who is a legit top-line center. There aren't a ton of left wings that jump off the page, so it's Pouliot's spot unless we start flipping wingers' sides.
A line of questions, no doubt. Zucker is a very highly touted prospect and got just a taste of the NHL last season for the Wild while Bouchard continues to be plagued by concussion issues. Jones is the surest bet on right side with 35 goals and 58 points while playing all but two games the last two seasons with the Oilers.
Once again, we have questions on the left and in the middle but have a safe bet in Clutterbuck on the right side. O'Sullivan had some nice seasons early in his career but has regressed to playing just 23 games last season for the Coyotes and Bulmer, like Zucker is highly touted but unproven. Clutterbuck is reliable, physical and will do a little scoring (15-12=27 last season), plus he has that awesome mustache.
Offensive Scratch: Matt Kassian
Kassian hasn't played much in the NHL, just 28 games, and won't be adding much in the way of offense at all. But he will fight should the need arise, a nice attribute to at least have handy.
Burns being a converted forward brings a lot of offense to the table obviously. The knock has always been the defense. That's where Schultz, the second pick in franchise history who was just dealt away last season, comes in. We'll go for balance.
Leddy was traded away to the Blackhawks before he ever got the chance to play in the NHL. Now, just 20 and two seasons in already, he 37 points last season for Chicago while averaging more than 22 minutes of ice per game. Scandella, like Schultz, will bear more of the defensive role in this duo.
Defensive Scratch: Justin Falk
Falk -- not to be confused with Minnesota native Justin Faulk -- narrowly edges out Clayton Stoner, but really, flip a coin. The Wild proved last year they are good at finding underrated but solid defensemen and have a few of them around.
Because this is only going off of players who were drafted, Niklas Backstrom doesn't make the cut as an unrestricted free agent. That's OK, Harding will get his chance to start and Hackett, who looked very good in his brief NHL stint last season, backs him up.