The battle to crack the Wild's lineup is in full swing.
What happened in the team's preseason opener made that crystal clear.
Roster hopefuls Marco Rossi and Calen Addison bolstered their bids on Sunday, helping the Wild to a 3-2 overtime victory against the Avalanche by displaying the skill set that could land each of them on the team.
"They're fighting for a job, and they're in a desperate situation," coach Dean Evason said. "They're handling it, and that's what you want to see."
After assisting on Addison's power-play goal in the second period, Rossi set up the game-winner when he slid a pass to Ryan Hartman for a one-timer just 48 seconds into overtime.
Rossi, the ninth overall pick in 2020, also skated on the penalty kill, and the 21-year-old center nabbed four of five faceoffs.
"Just a tremendous pass," Evason said of the final sequence. "That's what [Rossi] does, right? Just a distributor, and he's gonna make those type of plays."
As for Addison, he capitalized on a crisp point shot in the second period — execution the Wild need if they're going to successfully reboot the power play after last season's struggles. They finished 1-for-4.
"I think that's my biggest strength of my game is working the power play and having the puck on my stick and creating space for guys around me," said Addison, who was acquired in the Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh in 2020.
Dmitry Kulikov's offseason move to Anaheim seemed to open up a seat for Addison on the defense, but that's not how the 22-year-old is looking at the situation.
He believes he must earn the spot, and that's the same expectation the Wild have for their prized prospects.
There's still plenty of audition to go; the Wild are forecasting at least four preseason games apiece for Rossi and Addison.
But the early returns for the two are encouraging after both were cut a year ago before spending most of the season in the minors with the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa. Rossi was eventually called up to play two games, which included his NHL debut, while Addison pinch-hit for 15 games.
"I'm more ready," Rossi said. "I have more experience from last year. ... I just try to prove [to] everyone that I belong here."
Kirill Kaprizov didn't finish the game, leaving early out of precaution after a shot from teammate Frederick Gaudreau grazed his foot.
"He's fine," Evason said.
Kaprizov, who was the Wild's third alternate captain for the game with captain Jared Spurgeon not suiting up, opened the scoring in the second before assisting on Addison's power-play goal. That 2-0 lead held until Colorado responded with a pair in the third.
Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt didn't have the typical draft experience, getting taken by the Wild 20th overall in 2021 during a virtual announcement.
But now he's getting the full experience of being a prospect.
After participating in development camp in July and then the rookie showcase earlier this month, Wallstedt is now at his first training camp and the 19-year-old made his preseason debut Sunday. He replaced Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period, a planned split by the Wild, and totaled 11 saves.
"It was a lot of fun," said Wallstedt, who is preparing for his first season in North America after leaving Sweden. "Unfortunately, I let in two goals, but that happens in hockey. We've got to try to improve with that.
"Of course, the angles are different here from back home on the smaller ice. But I think I just have to keep improving my speed and my lateral movements on the ice and on my feet and become faster every day. Just try to improve the reading for the game and try to see plays happen before they do."