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EDINA, Minn. — Matt Dumba knows the Minnesota Wild still have another step to take despite a record-setting season in 2021-22.
The Wild set their record for most wins (53) and points (113) in a season to finish second in the Central Division, but they were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in six games in the Western Conference First Round.
Minnesota has not advanced past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2015 (lost six straight series).
“We all know what a great regular season we had, but it’s time for us to get back to work and focus on a deeper run in the postseason,” Dumba said on Monday at Da Beauty League, a 4-on-4 summer hockey league comprised of NHL and Division I players with ties to Minnesota. “We have to get over that hump.”
The Wild will return the bulk of their roster from last season, with the exceptions being forward Kevin Fiala, who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on June 29, and goalie Cam Talbot, who was traded to the Ottawa Senators on July 12.
Minnesota was able to re-sign goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year, $7 million contract ($3.5 million average annual value) on July 7, and defenseman Jacob Middleton to a three-year, $7.35 million contract ($2.45 million AAV) on July 6. Both Fleury (from the Chicago Blackhawks) and Middleton (San Jose Sharks) had been acquired in trades on March 21.
“It’ll be awesome (having those guys back),” Dumba said. “Those guys are going to be a big part of our team. We’re going to need everyone this coming season. To start the year with those guys, building our relationships, kind of a brothers in arms type of thing, and not just prove everyone wrong, but prove that we can make a deep run and we can be great. We can do it again this season.”
Dumba did acknowledge the opportunity available to young players this season with the absence of Fiala, who was second on Minnesota with an NHL career-high 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 82 games last season.
One of those players could possibly be Liam Ohgren, who was selected with the No. 19 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, which Minnesota had acquired in the trade for Fiala. The 18-year-old forward, who had 58 points (33 goals, 25 assists) in 30 games with Djurgardens IF in the Swedish Junior League last season, signed a three-year, entry-level contract on July 16.
Another player, though, is Marco Rossi, who was selected with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old forward led Iowa of the American Hockey League in assists (35), was tied for first in points (53), and was fourth in goals (18) in 63 regular-season games last season.
“I think those young guys will recognize that they have a chance to make this team and make an immediate impact,” Dumba said. “They will be out there competing their hardest, and we’ll all be pushing each other and hold each other accountable right from the start.
“Someone’s going to step up, and why not be a young guy? But ultimately, we’re all about being unselfish, so we all have to be ready to step up from Day One.”
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