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These 6 players are the core of the Wild's new generation

GM Paul Fenton's goal was to make the Wild younger and faster.
Author:
Joel Erikkson Ek

Kevin Fiala (left) and Joel Erikkson Ek (right). 

Remember the names: Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala, Joel Erikkson Ek, Luke Kunin, Jordan Greenway and Kirill Kaprizov. 

Those are the six players that Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton considers the core of the team following the trades of Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund. 

"Six guys that will be under 22 years old right now and should be the future of our organization," Fenton said in an interview with Fox Sports North's Anthony LaPanta before the start of Tuesday's game in Winnipeg. 

Erikkson Ek, Kunin and Greenway have been given bigger roles since Niederreiter and Coyle were traded, and four consecutive wins for the Wild – highlighted by Erikkson Ek's game-winning goal to beat the Jets – and consistently solid play from the trio gives Fenton plenty of optimism. 

"I think they've all played really well," said Fenton. "We've given them more ice time, more responsibility and that's the key to it: if you give them more and they take more then we can keep doing that." 

Donato has been a gem in four games since coming over from Boston in the Coyle trade. The 22-year-old speedster has at least one point (1 goal, 5 assists) in every game and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Blues on Sunday, following that up with a pair of assists in Winnipeg. 

The newest of the bunch, Fiala, another 22-year-old winger who was a first-round pick in 2014, adds to the speed and shooting skill Fenton desired. 

"Core pieces of our team going forward. They're how I want to play, they're how the NHL plays now," Fenton said. "They both have tremendous shots, so hopefully we'll see more of that."

Tuesday night's game in Winnipeg was Fiala's first with the Wild and he skated on a line with Zach Parise and Kunin. He took three shots in 17 minutes of ice time. 

"Kevin is a really skilled player, an exciting player," said Fenton. "He brings this aura of offense to him. I describe it as a game-breaker," said Fenton. "He has the ability to do a lot of special little things that I think gives us a different element."

Kaprizov, who might be the best of the six, is locked into a contract with his team in Russia and can't come to the NHL until the season after next. But if/when he gets to Minnesota, the State of Hockey might have its most talented scorer since Marian Gaborik roamed the ice at Xcel Energy Center. 

"My plan coming in was ... sometimes you have to make changes. Sometimes it's just the way that it is here. We've only got so far and I'm looking to get us that much further," Fenton told LaPanta. 

"We want to win the Stanley Cup, and if we can put these pieces in place and continue to grow with it, then we've got a chance someday." 

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