Are the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild Destined to be Rivals?

Internet rumblings entice the deep dive look...

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild
Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages
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Brock Faber
San Jose Sharks v Minnesota Wild / Nick Wosika/GettyImages

At the moment, the two teams couldn't be more opposite in terms of their records over the last 5 seasons. Please click this paragraph for the article from this morning about the tendencies of teams over that time period. The Minnesota Wild (along with the Nashville Predators) would place in the exact middle of the league in terms of results. This season is no different, currently with the 17th most points in the league (tie breaker to the Red Wings on point%) and fighting for one of the last playoff spots.

The Blackhawks meanwhile, after saying goodbye to countless franchise icons (such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, and Brent Seabrook amongst many) have finally hit the reset button and have ventured into the first stages of a full rebuild. This rebuild, coupled with the expected loses, has gotten off to a great start however. Last time the NHL Draft Lottery was held, the Blackhawks would take an 11.5% chance and come away with the #1 selection and then use it to select Connor Bedard from the Regina Pats in the WHL. This selection admist the many other top 2 round picks are giving the Blackhawks a huge boost. A prospect pool that is amongst the very best in the NHL in a short timeframe given what Hawks' GM Kyle Davidson inherited from the prior regime.

Meanwhile on June 29th of 2022 the Wild would make a decision that would prove to be quite formative to their future. They would trade top 6 forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings for prospect Brock Faber (a former 2nd round pick) and a first round pick (Liam Ohgren 19th in 2022). Fiala, for his part, has been fantastic in LA at just under a point per game over the last 2 seasons. Despite the loss of a good forward, it looks as though the Wild are quite pleased with how that deal has turned out thus far.

Brock Faber
Minnesota Wild v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Brock Faber, 21 years old, is not only putting up outstanding numbers as a rookie defenseman (38pts, 6g / 32a in 70 games) but he is also logging big minutes in all sitations for the Wild. Commonly skating in the mid 20s (minutes-wise) most games is quite uncommon for such a young player. There is no questioning that he is one of the elite young players (especially defenseman) in the league.

Bedard, for his part, is equally impressive and on a roster that does not help him in the same manner. The past 5 seasons, the Minnesota Wild have built a roster with a mix of both veterans and players that are in their prime at the moment. From Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek to Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi as young skilled players, the Wild have the makings of a good competitve team. Add in experience from the likes of Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Hartman, and Marcus Johansson and any rookie coming in would feel confident that their play will help an already skilled lineup each evening they hit the ice.

At the moment, Connor Bedard does not have this to lean on. Most nights and through an injury plagued season, the Blackhawks have had to make due with what they have from small trades, mid season free agent signings, and AHL call ups. These type of players have generally been the baseline for why the Blackhawks currently sit in 31st place and also illustrates even more so why Connor Bedard's rookie season has been so impressive (54 points in 55 games, 21g / 33a).

So are the two teams rivals?