With their roster practically gridlocked by returnees, there's little mystery about how training camp will play out for the Wild.
Next season's lineup is also starting to take shape.
The Wild handed out extensions to Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno on Friday, re-signing two core veterans on expiring contracts before they were eligible to test free agency.
Zuccarello secured two years for $8.25 million, while Foligno landed a four-year, $16 million deal.
"We like the players," President of Hockey Operations Bill Guerin said. "They are invested in the Wild, and they want to win here. I believe in these guys. I love what they bring to the table — on the ice, off the ice, in the dressing room.
"I think they're a part of how we can get better here."
Foligno and the Wild had been talking all month, with both sides motivated to reach a resolution.
Zuccarello and the team crossed that finish line in less than a week after little back-and-forth and a five-minute conversation between him and Guerin.
"This is where I want to be," Zuccarello said. "Why not do it as quick as possible and get it out of the way?"
After initially signing for five years and $30 million in 2019 as a free agent, Zuccarello, 36, and his family are happy in Minnesota, his daughter was born here and he considers this home.
He has a no-movement clause in both years of his new contract, which (like Foligno's) kicks in after the current season. Foligno has a no-movement clause in the first half of his next deal and a list of 15 teams he won't approve a trade to during the second half.
"This is where you want to finish your career," said Zuccarello, who's caught a second wind with the Wild — a renaissance in which he's outscored all his prime years in New York when he was a fan favorite with the Rangers.
Last season, the winger tallied a team-high 45 assists to go along with 22 goals while averaging the most ice time in his 13-year NHL career at 20 minutes, 12 seconds. The season before that, Zuccarello set career highs in assists (55) and points (79).
Most of those contributions have come alongside his linemate and friend Kirill Kaprizov, the two's chemistry described by Zuccarello as "something special," but Guerin also chalks up Zuccarello's performance to his "elite hockey sense."
"Not too many guys think the game on a level that he does," Guerin said. "He's never been the fastest guy. He's never been the biggest guy. But for the most part, he's always been the smartest guy, and that allows players to continue on into their late 30s."
Foligno, 32, has actually been at his best during his 12 years in the NHL since turning 30.
Two seasons ago, the winger posted a career-best 23 goals, 19 assists and 42 points and an eye-popping 23.5 shooting percentage that led the league. Last season he was limited by injury and his production dropped significantly, to seven goals and 14 assists through 65 appearances, but Foligno's value to the Wild is predicated on much more than offense.
He's savvy defensively, a reliable penalty killer and physically imposing (with 1,159 hits since joining the Wild via trade from Buffalo in 2017) all while delivering an energetic and emotional style that sets the tone on the ice; his vocal leadership as an alternate captain does the same off it.
That expansive repertoire is unique, and the Wild felt teams would "step up" for a player like Foligno if they had the chance in free agency. So, they signed him long-term to avoid losing him.
"We all see the impact that Marcus can have in a game," Guerin said. "Whether it's scoring a goal or physical play or a fight or something like that, he's got the ability to turn the tides and know the way things are going. Certain guys just keep themselves in really good shape, and Marcus is one of those guys.
"I don't see him slowing down. He came in in the best shape of his life this year."
Foligno's deal wrapped up in the afternoon after Zuccarello agreed, meaning the Wild answered two key personnel questions in a matter of hours.
Who's next, Ryan Hartman?
"We'd love to get something done with Ryan soon," Guerin said. "But we'll see."
Hartman is the other longtime forward on an expiring contract, and the Wild have had some discussions.
"He's a good player for us and a good guy," Guerin said. "Hopefully we can get that done."
In the meantime, the preseason continues against Chicago on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
At practice on Friday, the team split into two groups before assigning forward Pavel Novák and defensemen Simon Johansson, Kyle Masters and David Spacek to the minors and releasing forwards Kale Kessy and Greg Meireles from their tryouts.
One session included their NHLers plus Marco Rossi (before he left early after getting cut on the face) and Jujhar Khaira; Jonas Brodin (maintenance) was the only regular missing.
That very well could be the contingent that's in place when the puck drops on Oct. 12 vs. Florida, the start of a season that'll have a familiar objective.
"We're not in a rebuild," Guerin said, reiterating a message Wild owner Craig Leipold emphasized earlier in the week during his assessment of the team. "We want to still try to win, and part of that is keeping your best players."
The team's recent decisionmaking has certainly done that.
"I'm staying here because I think if not this year, in a couple years we're going to have a really good chance of winning, and that's our ultimate goal. That's my goal," Zuccarello said. "I also want to win. I wouldn't have signed a contract if I didn't believe in our team."