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Consistency is the final piece to make Matt Boldy a star for the Wild

Boldy's recent hot streak is a glimpse of what the Wild forward could be.
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After a slow start to the season, the Minnesota Wild have rebounded under new head coach John Hynes. By winning seven of their last nine games, the Wild sit four games behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference and a big reason for their revival has been the play of Matt Boldy.

Boldy has eight goals since Nov. 28 and he scored in three straight games before being held without a goal in Saturday's 2-1 win over the Canucks.

The recent stretch has Wild fans declaring that Boldy is back, but his hot streak highlights the issue that has kept the 22-year-old from becoming a star.

Boldy got off to a slow start in the first 12 games under Dean Evason. With one goal and seven assists in the opening weeks, Boldy struggled as he worked around an upper-body injury suffered in a loss at Toronto on Oct. 14.

Boldy has been one of the biggest beneficiaries since Evason was fired on Nov. 27, scoring seven goals with two assists over nine games under Hynes. But while Boldy's production has been a boost, keeping the goals coming has been a bigger challenge.

Boldy's rookie campaign during the 2021-22 season had modest production at just 20 years old as he had eight goals and eight assists in his first 16 games. Boldy hit the rookie wall in the final month of the season, however. with an eight-game scoreless streak from Mar. 16-31.

The streak was part of a tough stretch as Boldy had three goals in his final 26 games including a scoreless six-game playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.

While Boldy started the 2022-23 season with six goals and five assists through his first 18 games, he also had scoreless streaks of eight games (Nov. 3 to Nov. 19) and 11 games (Dec. 22 to Jan. 17), and a 15-game scoreless streak (Jan. 28 to Mar. 2) shortly after signing a seven-year, $49 million contract extension on Jan. 16.

Boldy picked it up in the final month of the season with 15 goals in his final 19 games, including a hat trick against the Washington Capitals on Mar. 19, but hit the skids again after being held scoreless during the Wild's six-game playoff series against the Dallas Stars.

The lack of consistency is common for a 22-year-old but also something that has held previous Wild phenoms back.

Mikael Granlund was once considered to be a future star for the Wild after he was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. After a few years to get going, Granlund exploded for 136 points from 2016 to 2018 but the overall production masked a bigger problem.

Granlund was notoriously streaky, beginning the 2016-17 season with an eight-game scoreless streak. After scoring five goals in the next 12 games, Granlund suffered a six-game scoreless streak (Nov. 26 to Dec. 9) before scoring five goals in his next 10 games.

Granlund then went nine games without a goal (Jan. 5 to Jan. 21) before scoring 14 goals over his next 24 games (Jan. 26 to Mar. 19) before another nine-game scoreless streak and two goals in the final 16 games to close the season, including one goal in a six-game playoff series against the Stars.

Granlund opened the 2017-18 season with a seven-game scoreless streak and had one goal in his first 14 games before scoring two goals in back-to-back games on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22. Granlund went on to score twice in the next 15 games before scoring two goals in back-to-back games on Dec. 27 and Dec. 29 and sparked a run with eight goals in his next 13 games.

The rest of the season was a roller coaster for Granlund. He had scoreless streaks of 11 and 13 games in the final months of the season and had two goals in his final 24 games, including a scoreless five-game playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.

While Granlund returned to start the 2018-19 season, he was traded to the Nashville Predators at the deadline for Kevin Fiala.

Fiala's career started with three scoreless streaks of eight or more games during the 2019 season but found consistency with his longest scoreless streak of four games during the 2020-21 season. 

Unfortunately, Fiala endured a 10-game scoreless streak after scoring in the Oct. 15 opener against the Anaheim Ducks and a seven-game scoreless streak from Nov. 24 to Dec. 7 and a nine-game scoreless streak to close the year, including a six-game playoff series with the St. Louis Blues.

This could be the life of a goal scorer in the NHL but is still extreme compared to the Wild's current face of the franchise, Kirill Kaprizov.

Kaprizov had three six-game scoreless streaks during his rookie season in 2020-21 but hasn't had one since. Even as Kaprizov has struggled by his standards this season, his longest scoreless streak has been five games. 

That type of consistency is what is holding Boldy back from being an upper-echelon forward in the NHL. According to Cap Friendly, Boldy ranks 40th in points per game (0.81) and 44th in goals scored (8) among 65 forwards with a cap hit over $7 million this season.

While Boldy still ranks ahead of Fiala, who was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Brock Faber and top prospect Liam Öhgren in June 2022, Fiala ranks 28th on this list with one point per game this season.

Perhaps this hot streak is what Boldy needs to become a consistent goal scorer and at age 22 he has plenty of time to figure it out. But the Wild's commitment doesn't signal that they view him as a developmental project. They need him to produce now and if the Wild want to claw their way back into the playoff picture, they'll need Boldy to find a consistent approach.

Matt Boldy

Dec 5, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Boldy (12) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.