Tyson Jost played most of last season and almost all of his NHL career with the Avalanche, but he wasn't with Colorado when it won the Stanley Cup in June.
Just three months earlier, he had been traded to the Wild.
"I'm not going to lie; it was tough," said Jost, who was acquired in exchange for Nico Sturm.
While it's not the same as embarking on a title defense, there was a promotion waiting for Jost when he arrived at training camp this year, and that's the opportunity to fill in for the injured Jordan Greenway on one of the Wild's top lines.
"I'm grateful and happy to be a part of the Wild," Jost said, "and I wouldn't change that for the world."
Greenway won't be ready for action when the puck drops on opening night after undergoing offseason surgery on an upper-body injury, so there's a vacancy next to Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno and Jost is the first to audition.
This isn't an unfamiliar assignment for Jost; he also skated alongside Eriksson Ek and Foligno last season when Greenway was hurt, and the Wild felt comfortable deploying the unit again because they liked what they saw.
"All three of us are very responsible in the 'D' zone and play a 200-foot game," Jost said Thursday after practice. "We all like getting in on the forecheck and being kind of tenacious and hungry on pucks, and that puts duress on the D-men if we can really play a down-low game, too.
"I know I like hanging onto pucks down low and making plays down there, and so do those two other guys as well. So that's something we were kind of talking about today. That's something that we've got to bring to our game and really dominate in that aspect."
In 21 games with the Wild last season after getting dealt from the Avalanche, who drafted Jost 10th overall in 2016 and had him in the lineup for 321 games, Jost totaled two goals and four assists while skating mostly lower in the lineup. The 24-year-old believes this change of scenery is an opportunity for him to unlock more production.
"Obviously, both of those guys are offensive players, too," Jost said, referring to Eriksson Ek and Foligno, "and we still want to be responsible in the D-zone. But, yeah, I think I can bring that offense, and that's something that's exciting for me as a player."
With Kevin Fiala gone after his offseason trade to Los Angeles, the Wild had newcomer Sam Steel skate with Fiala's former linemates Matt Boldy and Frederick Gaudreau.
Marco Rossi debuted with Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime,
"We have plans for a lot of different combinations," coach Dean Evason said.
On the blue line, the team revised its usual setup by having captain Jared Spurgeon team up with Jonas Brodin and Jake Middleton work alongside Matt Dumba. Alex Goligoski skated with Calen Addison.
The intention behind the switch (Spurgeon played with Middleton last season while Brodin and Dumba had been a longtime duo) is to give the team a pairing in Spurgeon and Brodin that can match up against other teams' best players. Evason said the Wild could change their mind but liked the look on Thursday.
Greenway and defenseman Jon Merrill, who is also recovering from offseason surgery on an upper-body injury and won't be ready for Game No. 1, were on the ice Thursday, but neither is a full participant yet.
General Manager Bill Guerin described both players as being in the "home stretch" of their rehabs.
"They're progressing as they should," Guerin said. "They're on schedule, and five to 10 games in they should be ready."