Wild hope new acquisition Reaves can spark more aggressive offense

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

General Manager Bill Guerin felt the Wild needed size and a spark.

So he traded for a forward whose M.O. is just that in Ryan Reaves, picking up the rugged and energetic veteran from the New York Rangers on Wednesday in exchange for a 2025 fifth-round draft pick.

But those haven't been the Wild's only issues.

Scoring goes up and down and although he could eventually step in like he did with the Reaves acquisition, Guerin would prefer the Wild to self-correct this problem.

"I'd like to see it handled internally," Guerin said. "If that doesn't happen, we have flexibility still and we still have cap space. We can do other things, too. But I'd really like to see this group handle that internally."

Offense wasn't difficult for the Wild their last time out.

They overwhelmed Winnipeg 6-1 on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center to secure their most convincing win of the season ahead of playing host to Toronto on Friday afternoon. But output like that hasn't been the norm.

This was only the third time over the past nine games the Wild eclipsed two goals, and the team still sits in the league's bottom third in production.

"We need to be more aggressive offensively," Guerin said. "We need to be more aggressive hunting down pucks and on the forecheck and holding onto pucks in the offensive zone. That's the grind I'm looking for, not grinding it out so it's a painful game.

"We want to play in the offensive zone. We want to play an up-tempo, high-pace, high-compete game. We do that at times but not consistently enough."

Perhaps the deluge on Wednesday will be a turning point.

Matt Boldy (eight games), Marcus Foligno (11) and Kirill Kaprizov (five) snapped goalless slumps. Calen Addison is tied for the NHL lead in scoring among rookie defensemen (10 points) after his two-point effort that included his first goal of the season, while Matt Dumba and Joel Eriksson Ek both tallied a pair of assists.

"It's obviously hard to score goals, but we've got to do a better job," Boldy said. "I think [Wednesday's] a step in the right direction, for sure."

The Wild will also discover the effect Reaves' arrival will have.

"He's been on some great teams that have gone a long way," Foligno said of the 6-2, 225-pound Reaves, who's logged 767 games in the NHL and another 102 in the playoffs. "I think he's a big part of it in a way of bringing energy and bringing that mentality and giving confidence to guys to go out and do their job and play free.

"Just having a guy like that, it's not just toughness, it's experience. We're excited to have him."

Reaves, 35, landed in Minnesota on Wednesday night and is expected to make his Wild debut against the Maple Leafs.

Brandon Duhaime didn't play in the third period vs. the Jets, and coach Dean Evason said the winger would likely be sidelined Friday. The Wild activated goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (upper-body injury) from injured reserve on Thursday and sent goalie Zane McIntyre back to Iowa in the American Hockey League. Rookie Marco Rossi has been a healthy scratch for two in a row after posting one assist in 16 games.

"We're discussing different options for Marco," Guerin said. "But just because he's missed the last couple of games doesn't mean it's the end of the world. It doesn't mean we're kicking him to the curb or anything like that. It's part of being a young player in this league. It doesn't always go your way."

Roster decisions are constantly looming throughout a season, and maybe more change will happen if the team can't reboot its offense for good.

After bringing in Reaves, the Wild have a new player to help them try to accomplish that.

"Whenever you trade and add a guy instead of subtracting, that's part of just the message in itself of just saying, 'You know what? We're going to try to add to this team and add to what we have and make it better,' " Foligno said. "So, that's the message, and I think everyone takes it that way."