As Minnesota Wild players began arriving at Late Minnetonka for the Mike Yeo Classic on Tuesday, they were greeted by many familiar faces.
Tuesday may have served as a reintroduction for some of the 10 Wild players who were in attendance after a summer apart, but not many introductions will be needed in the coming weeks for a roster that is returning many of the same names from the past season.
"It's always nice to back in Minnesota, and training, and to be getting ready for the season,” Jason Zucker said. "This just means we’re a bit closer to that, which is awesome.
"We still have a few weeks away, but this allows us to have a little bit of fun while we know we’re getting ready."
One thing some of the 10 players in attendance on Tuesday said is the Wild have the benefit of roster continuity, both on and off the ice.
"It helps, you’re comfortable, but nothing is guaranteed in this sport," Jordan Schroeder said. "You have to come in and perform, so that will be my mindset."
Of the 30 players currently listed on the Wild roster, 23 were in the organization in 2014-15.
For a team that had the second-best record in hockey from Jan. 14 on this past season, going 28-9-3, that might not be a bad thing.
"It's huge to have that," Zucker said. "It's really nice, in my opinion, not to have a big splash in the offseason in free agency.
It's nice to have the same guys come back. We really benefit a lot from that.
We have a lot of great guys in this room and great leaders, and this year we'll definitely show that this team has something we can build off from last year."
Minnesota's finish to the past season, and from Jan. 14 on, coincides with when the team traded for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The Wild allowed the fewest even-strength goals in the NHL after Dubnyk was acquired over a 38-game stretch.
But a hot finish paired with a loss in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs made for a focused and goal-oriented offseason.
"I just wanted to make sure that I was working hard and keeping a good mindset toward this year," Zucker said. "It's a big year for me, and the rest of the team, and we’re really excited about it.
I just wanted to make sure that I was working hard and doing the right things, and if I was doing that I would get the right results out of it."
Wild Breakaway Price Increases
Fans wishing to sign up for the 2nd Annual Minnesota Wild Breakaway 10K/5K/1-Mile Run, benefiting the Minnesota Wild Foundation can do so at a reduced rate through Friday, Sept. 4. More information on the event and how to register can be found here.