Founded in 2000, The Minnesota Wild was the first expansion team of the millenia and it would take decades for it to find its footing. The only National Hockey League (NHL) team based in Minnesota, it had a duty to fill the hearts of Northern U.S. hockey fans. The Wild’s first few seasons as an NHL team were unremarkable. But as the years went by, more and more attention was being set on the team. The Wild broke numerous franchise records during the 2007–08 season, including most goals and points. Also, Jacques Lemaire recorded his 500th career coaching win as the Wild gained their first ever Northwest Division title in a 3–1 victory over the Calgary Flames on April 3, 2008.
From the years 2009-2018 the Wild began to rebuild. Hiring a new general manager and trading old picks for fresher ones and during the first month of the 2009–10 season, the team announced their first-ever full-time captain, Mikko Koivu. However, during the 2009/2010 seasons, the Wild missed the playoff bracket and the head coach at the time was fired. With a new coach, the Wild decided to make some risky trades, which would improve their lineup for seasons to come. During the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Wild used their 10th overall pick to select Jonas Brodin who has had 43 goals and 150 assists in his NHL career so far.
In November 2011, the team set a franchise record for most wins in one month with 11. With a stellar start to the season that saw them sitting atop the NHL standings in early December, multiple injuries to key players for extended periods effectively eliminated the team from playoff contention for the fourth consecutive year. During the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the team selected Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick, who is the current Assistant Captain on the Wild. On May 21, 2018, Paul Fenton was hired as the third general manager in franchise history. During the 2018–19 season, the Wild struggled to keep up in the extremely competitive Central Division as they had in previous seasons. Many key players like Eric Staal and Jason Zucker declined in quality from the season prior. Many reported that there was dysfunction in the organization, caused by a rift between Fenton, Boudreau and various players, ultimately leading to the trading of several core players, such as Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. The Wild finished the season with 83 points, finishing last in the division and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
In the 2019 off-season, the Wild signed free agent Mats Zuccarello to a five-year contract. On July 30, 2019, Fenton was fired as general manager, just 14 months after being hired to that position. On Aug. 21, 2019, the Wild hired Bill Guerin as the fourth general manager in franchise history. On Feb. 14, 2020, the Wild fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and named Dean Evason as interim head coach. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wild participated in the qualifying round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, but were eliminated in four games at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. Kirill Kaprizov, the Russian baby-faced 24 year old, played his first NHL game with the Wild in January 2021, scoring the overtime winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings during his debut. On Sept. 21 2021, Kaprizov signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Wild. As a result of the contract, Kaprizov became the highest-paid sophomore player in NHL history. The forward became the first player in NHL history with three points in his first game. He scored his 37th point on April 19 which broke Marian Gaborik’s Wild rookie record of 36 points set in the 2000-01 season.
So far, the Wild have yet to make it past Round 4 of the Playoffs. Yet, with key trades that were made in the 2021-22 season such as Marc-Andre Fleury who was (rightfully) rescued from the Chicago Blackhawks this trade deadline and Tyson Jost from the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild has a fantastic goalie and a well-seasoned player on their roster. With the Wild currently 11th in the league, it is no doubt that they will make it to the playoffs this season. While their chances of winning the Cup are low, their future chances to win the Cup improve with each season and each new addition to their roster. With players like Kaprizov, Fleury, Jost, Dumba and Spurgeon, the Wild will hopefully one day get to hoist the Stanley Cup.