Chip Scoggins
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The Wild opens a new season Thursday in a new division with a newish roster, and for this franchise, anything new is welcomed like melting snow in springtime.

Out with the boring. In with intrigue.

For years, the Wild's motto was same old, same old. The marquee above this season should read, Wild2K.

Fans have been anxiously awaiting this moment, to see what happens when 2K arrives.

Let's hope Kirill Kaprizov comes close to being as good as advertised.

All aboard, the hype train is departing.

And why not? The Wild has two potential dynamic scorers — a declaration not uttered ever in the team's 20-year existence — in Kevin Fiala and Kaprizov, the Russian phenom.

I went to watch Kaprizov at a recent practice. Strangely, he did not float onto the ice through billows of smoke with heavenly voices singing in the background. He did make some sweet moves in drills, though.

"I want him to come in and be a part of the team," General Manager Bill Guerin said in a phone conversation. "He's not our saving grace. He's not here to take us to the promised land. He's a player on our team, and we're hoping he's a very good player."

Very polished statement there, Mr. Guerin.

"Thanks, I've been rehearsing it," he said, laughing.

Guerin is no dummy. He hears the hype train barreling down the tracks. The last Wild season that began with this much genuine anticipation and curiosity was when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter put on the jersey for the first time in 2012.

Guerin has ushered in a new era with a roster shake-up that marks an unmistakable shift from the organization's old way of doing business.

Familiar names are gone. Koivu, Staal, Dubnyk, Zucker. Guerin tried unsuccessfully to trade Parise, and then bypassed Parise when choosing a new captain.

A page has been turned, without emotional attachment to players who made the Wild a consistent playoff team but never a real contender. Guerin has a new plan, a vision that makes sense because it divorces itself from same old, same old once and for all.

"Sometimes change is good," he said. "You get excited about things and it's not just the same old thing day after day."

Wild owner Craig Leipold once demanded roster tweaks, fearful of a step backward, hoping that minor adjustments would produce a different result, however unrealistic that appeared. The organization found itself stuck in a rut. Too good to tank, not good enough to contend. Eventually, that sort of limbo status becomes self-defeating and unsatisfying.

Guerin clearly isn't interested in tweaks. Nor should he be. The team had to try a different path.

Whether his master plan will work remains to be seen, but at least it makes sense and feels right. Get younger, create some salary cap flexibility, replenish the prospect pool and hope that Fiala and Kaprizov develop into bona fide stars and elite goal scorers.

Guerin is excited but patient. If the Wild can be competitive and perhaps make the playoffs, even better. But the payoff likely will come in a few years, once the youngsters have time to learn, grow and establish themselves.

Especially Kaprizov. The GM knows that fans are giddy. He's trying to remain more measured publicly.

"To put unrealistic expectations on a young player is unfair," Guerin said. "Hopefully, he's very, very good. But this is the best league in the world."

The Wild still lacks a No. 1 center. The hope is that 2020 first-round pick Marco Rossi will solve that long-standing problem at some point.

With a stout defense and veteran goaltender, the Wild is not undergoing a classic strip-to-the-studs rebuild. Think of it more as a fresh start, the first chapter of a new book.

"The one thing we can't get caught up saying is, 'Well, we've always done that here,' " Guerin said. "That doesn't matter. Even if you win, you have to evolve, you have to change, you have to keep up. You have to embrace new things."

Sounds refreshing, doesn't it?

chip.scoggins@startribune.com