Training camp for the Wild will be more of a reunion than an orientation.
The majority of last season's team is back. Much of the Wild's core is signed for multiple years, and management had little money to spend with the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts eating a chunk of the budget.
That means plenty of familiarity for the players when they report Wednesday — familiarity not only with each other but with what they're up against after another promising season fizzled in the first round of the playoffs.
"Our goal doesn't change because we didn't have success last year," coach Dean Evason said. "Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and it's going to be again this year."
There has been some change since the Wild were eliminated by Dallas in six games last April, the eighth consecutive playoff series they've lost.
Nearly all of last season's trade pickups are gone, with Ryan Reaves, John Klingberg, Gustav Nyquist and Oskar Sundqvist joining new teams. Only Marcus Johansson re-upped. Sam Steel was also on the move, to Dallas, and Mason Shaw hasn't signed while he recovers from a torn ACL.
But the most significant exit was by defenseman Matt Dumba, who played 10 seasons before the team's limited funds made a split inevitable. He signed a one-year deal with Arizona; the Wild are expected to name a new alternate captain during training camp.
What money the Wild did have available after almost $15 million of their salary cap space went to the Parise and Suter buyouts was mostly used to re-sign goaltender Filip Gustavsson (three years, $11.25 million), forward Brandon Duhaime (one year, $1.1 million) and defenseman Calen Addison (one year, $825,000).
Addison's deal came Tuesday after an up-and-down rookie season in which he sparked the power play but was ultimately bumped from the lineup because of defensive lapses.
"I expect him to be a very determined player this year," said Bill Guerin, Wild president of hockey operations. "Calen has a tremendous amount of skill. I know it's in there. He knows what he has to do, and I'm expecting a very motivated player."
Factor in the arrivals of three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon from a trade with Tampa Bay and the two-way additions of local Vinni Lettieri, Jacob Lucchini and Jujhar Khaira, and the Wild aren't far from the $83.5 million cap ceiling.
They're likely to carry fewer than the roster limit to help them accrue cap space, so one, maybe two, spots are up for grabs at forward. Marco Rossi, Sammy Walker and Adam Beckman split time between the Wild and minors last season, while Lettieri and Khaira are experienced pros.
While everyone has healed from injuries from last season — including Joel Eriksson Ek, who broke his leg late in the regular season — the team might not have full participation when practices begin Thursday at Tria Rink.
"We've got some guys that are bumped up [from offseason training]," Evason said. "But everybody should be good to go for Game 1 of the regular season."
The season starts Oct. 12 against Florida at Xcel Energy Center.
On defense, rookie Brock Faber is penciled in to start alongside Jonas Brodin and fill the vacancy left by Dumba after Faber made an impressive debut late last season from the Gophers.
"He's ready," Guerin said. "He proved it last year. I'm not saying it's going to be smooth sailing for him the whole way, but he's ready to play. Physically, maturity-wise, all that stuff, he's just ready."
The Wild kick off a six-game preseason schedule on Sunday at Colorado. From the get-go they're planning to work on the beleaguered power play, which will hear a new voice after Jason King was hired as an assistant to replace Brett McLean once McLean became Iowa's head coach in the American Hockey League.
The Wild cruised through the preseason last season, going 6-1, but then won only once in their first five games before recalibrating to eclipse 100 points (46-25-11) and finish third in the Central Division.
"We're going to play hockey," Evason said, "so that our group is ready to play hockey drop of the puck in Game 1."