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Five burning questions for Wild training camp: Can Guerin swing a trade for forward help?

Finally, after a long offseason with few additions and the notable subtractions of Kevin Fiala, Cam Talbot and Dmitry Kulikov, Wild training camp has arrived.

Players reported Wednesday, with the first on-ice sessions coming Thursday.

Fifty-eight players will take part in camp, including 22 promoted from the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase last week in Chicago.

Several practice sessions are free and open to the public. Here’s the current training camp schedule, which is very much subject to change. Here’s the link to reserve tickets for practices for training camp and throughout the season.

Before we launch into training camp talk, here are some stories to catch up on if you missed them this summer:

Moving forward now, let’s take a look at the biggest questions the Wild must answer in training camp, plus projected lines and the cap situation:

1. Can Guerin pilfer a good forward off a cap-strapped team?

Why bury the lede? This is the biggest question of camp. By trading Kulikov, the Wild freed up $2.25 million in cap space and now technically have $5.7 million and change to spend.

In the team’s mind, that number is really lower, because with Jordan Greenway and Jon Merrill not expected to start the season, there’s theoretically room for four roster hopefuls to make the team: a sixth and seventh defensemen (one perhaps being Calen Addison), a 13th forward and, as long as he earns a spot, Rossi.

However, with the season opening with a four-game homestand and AHL Iowa so close, the Wild don’t necessarily have to put a seventh defenseman and 13th forward on the roster (barring injury) until they head out for a five-game road trip in late October.

The Wild will also want to leave themselves with at least $1 million in cushion to be able to afford call-ups this season.

General manager Bill Guerin’s plan here is transparent.

NHL teams must be cap compliant — below the $82.5 million ceiling — by opening night Oct. 11. There are several teams around or above the cap. There are also teams that simply have too many forwards.

Guerin’s hope is that as the season creeps closer and these teams become more desperate, he’ll be able to snag a quality forward, preferably a scorer who can help replace the 85 points lost by dealing Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings, for either very little or essentially for free.

Some teams that might need that type of cap dump include Florida, Edmonton, Dallas, Montreal, Boston, Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington, Toronto, Columbus and Vancouver.

There also could be very intriguing players placed on waivers next month.

2. How do the lines shake out?

Unless something has changed since The Athletic sat down with Evason last week, the Wild’s prolific top line from 2021-22 of Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello will stay intact.

But with Greenway on the shelf, who takes his spot on the left side of Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno?

There will be a lot of experimentation in camp, but Evason said Tyson Jost will get the initial look. Jost arrived in a trade from Colorado for Nico Sturm last season but never got much opportunity beyond the fourth line. This will be his big shot to not only receive increased minutes but also contribute offensively while helping the line maintain its identity as a shutdown trio.

We all know about Evason’s affinity for Freddy Gaudreau. He feels he can play anywhere. After Matt Boldy’s arrival last January, Gaudreau centered a potent line with Fiala and Boldy.

But just to show you how much of an opportunity the Wild are giving Rossi to make the team, Gaudreau is expected to start training camp at left wing so Rossi and Sam Steel can be tried in that center spot next to Boldy.

Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime will bookend the fourth line. If Rossi makes the team, Steel could end up in the center spot there. But don’t be surprised if we hear a lot about Nic Petan in camp, too. The 27-year-old center has 154 games of NHL experience and could push to make the team as a 12th or 13th forward.

Remember, many of the plans could be altered if Guerin’s able to add that forward before the opener.

3. And what about the defense peers?

Evason dropped a bit of news in last week’s Q&A when he said the Wild plan to open camp by breaking up the top two defense pairs.

Longtime staples and off-ice besties Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba won’t open camp together.

Instead, Brodin will be paired with captain Jared Spurgeon while Dumba will start with Jake Middleton, who arrived last season from San Jose in the Kaapo Kahkonen trade.

“We think that it might give us the opportunity to play Spurge and Brodes against the high-, high-, high-end guys, speed-wise, and then those other two against a little bit more, the grittier, heavier groups,” Evason said.

So we’ll see how that looks.

With Merrill hurt, Alex Goligoski will presumably open camp on the left side of Addison. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in camp between Addison and Andrej Sustr, the 6-foot-8 right-shot defenseman with 361 games of NHL experience.

Guerin talks like the plan is for Sustr to make the team. He’s a quality penalty killer, which was a major downfall for the Wild last season. But Addison is a power-play guy, and the Wild’s power play was a disappointment last season, too.

So this could be a true camp battle.

4. What PP and PK adjustments will we see?

Evason indicated that we’ll see personnel changes on the power play but not so many schematic changes. Obviously, it’ll be interesting to see how the Wild work in Boldy and newbies like Rossi and Addison. When they played together in Iowa, Boldy and Rossi had good chemistry on the power play and each played the half wall. Addison quarterbacked the power play down there.

On the penalty kill, Evason indicated that the Wild—passive way too often last season—will be a lot more aggressive. But he also wants his players to stop with desperation clears that don’t get out of the zone and often end up in the back of the net. Part of the design of the Wild’s tweaked penalty kill system will be to give players more passing options inside the defensive zone.

5. Will Rossi make the team?

Rossi had a pretty nondescript training camp last September, which was not a shock. After his health scare the previous winter, he had to take several months off — not just off playing hockey but also off skating and working out. That led to a short offseason of training.

But after having nearly a point per game last season in Iowa, Rossi worked exhaustively this offseason to prepare for camp. He’s so motivated he even asked his family not to think of visiting until well into the season so he can focus solely on making the team.

The Wild want to see Rossi stand out in both practices and exhibition games over these next few weeks.

A spot was left vacant for him. The door is wide open. Now it’s on him to take advantage.

Anticipated lines and defense pairs to open camp

Forwards

Line L.W. VS RW

1

Kirill Kaprizov ($9M)

Ryan Hartman ($1.7M)

Mats Zuccarello ($6M)

2

Tyson Jost ($2M)

Joel Eriksson Ek ($5.25M)

Marcus Foligno ($3.1M)

3

Freddy Gaudreau ($1.2M)

Marco Rossi ($863,333)

Matt Boldy ($880K+)

4

Connor Dewar ($800K)

Sam Steel ($825K)

Brandon Duhaime ($750K)

5

*Jordan Greenway ($3M)

Vying for spots: Rossi ($863,333), Nic Petan ($762,500), Adam Beckman ($894,167), Mitchell Chaffee ($750,000), Mason Shaw ($750,000), Nick Swaney ($750,000), Joseph Cramarossa ($750,000), Sammy Walker ($855,000), Brandon Baddock ( $750,000), Steven Fogarty ($750,000), Damien Giroux ($818,833), Sam Hentges ($855,000), Vladislav Firstov ($925,000), Pavel Novak ($846,667)**.

* Greenway is coming off two offseason surgeries and is expected to miss the start of the season.

** Novak has been diagnosed with cancer, has finished chemotherapy and told The Athletic on Sunday that he will be examined by doctors in two weeks.

Defensemen

Peer LD DR

1

Jonas Brodin ($6M)

Jared Spurgeon ($7.575M)

2

Jake Middleton ($2.45M)

Matt Dumba ($6M)

3

Alex Goligoski ($2M)

Calen Addison ($795K)

4

*Jon Merrill ($1.2M)

Andrej Sustr ($750K)

Vying for spots: Addison ($795,000), Sustr ($750,000), Dakota Mermis ($750,000), Joe Hicketts ($750,000), Daemon Hunt ($850,833), Ryan O’Rourke ($866,667), Simon Johansson ($855,000).

* Merrill is coming off offseason surgery and is expected to miss the start of the season.

goals

Marc-Andre Fleury ($3.5 million)

Filip Gustavsson ($787,500)

Vying for spots: Zane McIntyre ($750,000), Jesper Wallstedt ($925,000), Hunter Jones ($825,833).

cap space

Salary-cap hit: $64,018,333

Dead-cap charges (Zach Parise/Ryan Suter): $12,743,588

Salary cap for 2022-23 season: $82.5 million

Wild’s cap ceiling: $69,756,412

Salary-cap space: $5,738,079 (excludes roster hopefuls like Rossi, Addison, Sustr or others potentially making the team)

(Top photo of Jared Spurgeon and Kirill Kaprizov: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today)

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