Wild trim their roster to their anticipated opening night lineup

Since the start of training camp — heck, since early this summer — we’ve been projecting a leadup to the Wild season where basically no spots were up for grabs for anybody who wasn’t expected to be a roster shoo-in.

That was confirmed Wednesday when the team made six roster moves to get down to what’s expected to be its opening night lineup.

The biggest thing that was confirmed was something we’ve been speculating on for several weeks: The Wild plan to open the season with 12 forwards on the active roster.

They placed forwards Jujhar Khaira, Vinni Lettieri and Nic Petan and defenseman Dakota Mermis on waivers for the purposes of being assigned to AHL Iowa if they clear Thursday at 1 p.m. In addition, waiver-exempt players Sammy Walker and Jesper Wallstedt were reassigned to Iowa.

All six players had impressive training camps, but there’s either no room for them in the lineup or — in the cases of Walker, Wallstedt and recently reassigned Adam Beckman — no room under the salary cap. As of now, the Wild have roughly $818,000 of cap space heading into the season. Walker carries an $855,000 average annual value, and Wallstedt makes $925,000.

Since the salary cap is calculated daily in the NHL, our fuzzy math says the Wild would need to get through nine days until they would have enough space to recall Walker.

That, in essence, is why the Wild are not carrying an extra forward like Khaira, Lettieri or Petan, who in any other circumstance would have warranted that 13th forward position. If any of them made the team, the Wild would be down to $43,000 in cap space.

Coach Dean Evason raved about these players by name after Saturday’s preseason win over Chicago. He said while it’s unfortunate there weren’t roster spots open, the best part of camp is all these players had quality showings and that it gives him and management faith to call up players by need.

If the Wild need a right-shot center who can play up and down the lineup or a power-play guy, there’s Lettieri. If they need a big, checking center or winger, there’s Khaira, who has loads of NHL experience. If they need a speedy, energy guy, there’s Petan. If they need skill in a top-six role, there’s Walker.

Below is the anticipated opening night lineup if the Wild get through the final two exhibition games Thursday in Chicago and Saturday at home against Dallas in good health.



Kirill Kaprizov

Ryan Hartman

Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Johansson

Joel Eriksson Ek

Matt Boldy

Marcus Foligno

Marco Rossi

Freddy Gaudreau

Pat Maroon

Connor Dewar

Brandon Duhaime



Jake Middleton

Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin

Brock Faber

Jon Merrill

Calen Addison

Alex Goligoski


Filip Gustavsson

Marc-Andre Fleury

(Top photo of Sammy Walker and Adam Beckman: Nick Wosika / USA Today)

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