After another first-round playoff exit, one that felt all-too-familiar to what happened last year (and plenty of others), the natural instinct was to roll my eyes while listening to Wild General Manager Bill Guerin try to explain the big picture on Tuesday.
"We're going to move forward and keep trying to get better and continue to try to build a team that can compete for a championship," Guerin said. "I think we're doing a lot of good things on and off the ice, and one day we'll get there."
A fan base that has never watched the Wild even play for the Stanley Cup, let alone hoist that trophy, and has waited patiently for 20 years now since the last (and only) conference finals appearance might grumble about the mantra always seeming to be "wait until next year" or some other undefined point in the future.
But here's the thing: We can roll our eyes and be frustrated. That doesn't change the fact that Guerin is right, as I talked about on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
The "pain" Guerin spoke of is real, both in the context of frustratingly familiar (seven in a row) one-and-done postseason departures and the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise continuing to take up massive amounts of cap space for the next two seasons beyond this one.
But Guerin's eye for talent — much of it inexpensive — is undeniable. Finding and extending good fits like Marcus Johansson is a skill. More importantly, Guerin has helped build the Wild's prospect base to the point that two different publications consider the Wild to have the best farm system in the entire NHL.
As was written in The Athletic a few months ago, the Wild are "the only team in the league with a top prospect at all six positions."
That means relatively low-cost and potentially high-end players should start flowing into the lineup soon. And they should be major contributors once the Suter and Parise buyouts are no longer an issue.
That the Wild have continued to be competitive in the meantime is a credit to Guerin and Dean Evason. That they have come up short in the postseason is a major demerit that bears watching going forward.
But taken at face value, you should be left with this: It's possible to be disappointed and to have hope at the same time.