Publish date:

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.
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." 

Next Up


'My patience level is gone': Walz calls on lawmakers to help hospital strain

The governor said only legislators can enact some of the needed measures.


Jeep driver dies after hitting two deer, rolling into oncoming vehicle

As the SUV rolled, it struck another vehicle approaching the other direction.

carver county dog

Family's dog 'senselessly' killed with arrow in Carver County

The beloved dog was shot with an arrow on Tuesday.

Tim Walz - YouTube - Screengrab

COVID-19: Gov. Walz reveals new actions to ease hospital strain

He's putting the National Guard on alert and expanding the emergency staffing pool.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Golden Valley man killed by driver in Alexandria

The man was hit near the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Hawthorne Street Thursday morning.

Stock market chart

Ex-council member pleads guilty to stock manipulation scheme

Mark Allen Miller pleaded guilty alongside one other man to conspiracy to commit security fraud in U.S. District Court.

Kirill Kaprizov / Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild: 5 things you can count on in the 2021-22 season

Can the Wild live up to their lofty expectations?

masks, schools

After petition, Minneapolis Schools reduces student COVID quarantine period

Close contacts previously had to quarantine for 14 days, but that's now reducing to 10.

Walz-May 6 - address

Walz to announce 'new action' on hospital capacity, expanding rapid testing

It comes as Minnesota's health system is facing it's biggest COVID challenge yet.


Kevin Fiala / Minnesota Wild

Wild salvage series split with Kings

A physical battle led to a 5-3 win for the Wild.

Eric Staal

Staal's goal gives Wild first overtime victory of season

The veteran's overtime goal helped take down the Winnipeg Jets.

Wild, Zach Parise

Wild reclaim playoff position with huge road win over Capitals

Arizona and Colorado are both in action Saturday afternoon.

Kaprizov, Wild

5 questions for the Wild's playoff series against Vegas

The Wild seem to have the advantage, but can they win their first playoff series since 2015?

Joel Erikkson Ek

Gritty Wild score twice late to stun the Jets in Winnipeg

Jason Zucker and Joel Erikkson Ek scored 26 seconds apart late in the game.

Ryan Donato

2 Wild players pegged as 2019-20 'breakout' candidates

Both players were acquired in trades last season.

Cam Talbot

Wild improve to 4-1 with victory over Dubnyk, Sharks

The 4-1 win gives the Wild four victories in five games to start the season.

Ryan Donato

In Wild home debut, Ryan Donato nets overtime winner

The Wild got Donato in the trade that sent Charlie Coyle to Boston.