NorthStock10:20

Joel Eriksson Ek, Minnesota Wild forward (UP ⬆️) 

The Wild re-signed Eriksson Ek to an eight-year, $42 million contract in July. He was brilliant on home ice Tuesday night after a quiet two-game start in Southern California. Eriksson Ek netted the Wild’s first hat trick this season, and the first of his six-year career, in the 6-5 overtime win against Central Division rival Winnipeg. He scored game-tying goals in the first and third periods, the latter of which came in the final minute, and then sent the Jets packing and the home crowd into a frenzy with the bonus-time dagger.

K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver (UP ⬆️)

Osborn’s walk-off touchdown in overtime against Carolina was the second-year receiver’s biggest play of the season to date, and the latest example that Minnesota finally has a legitimate third player on the perimeter. Osborn has racked up 75+ receiving yards in half of the Vikings’ games this year. He’s been targeted by quarterback Kirk Cousins at least five times in four different contests. Perhaps most impressive, 12 of his 26 catches have gained a first down.

Patrick Peterson, Minnesota Vikings cornerback (DOWN ⬇️ then UP ⬆️ then DOWN ⬇️)

“P2” started his first year with the Vikings on a sour note -- he allowed 10 completions for 139 receiving yards and one touchdown on 13 targets, for a 122.7 passer rating, across his first three games in purple. Minnesota’s next three opponents started to attack Peterson, figuring he’d lost a step … or three, but he fared much better, surrendering 12 catches for 129 yards on 24 targets (63.8 passer rating). Sad thing is, Peterson’s ascension now has been chopped down. He injured his hamstring near the start of Carolina’s game-tying drive at the end of regulation in Week 6, and will miss a minimum of three games before he’s able to be activated off injured reserve. His veteran guidance will be crucial for a young secondary in the meantime.

Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild forward (UP ⬆️)

Three points in three games is a solid start for the 25-year-old left wing. After scoring the Wild’s first goal this season in their opener against Anaheim, Fiala returned the following night to dish an assist versus Los Angeles and become the fifth Swiss-born player to notch 200 career points. In Tuesday’s home opener, Fiala earned a secondary assist on Ekker’s OT winner. No doubt he’s playing impassioned hockey on a one-year, $5.1 million contract he signed in August.

Minnesota Timberwolves (UP ⬆️)

A little wishful thinking, but hey, everything about the Timberwolves seems to be trending in the right direction as they commence a new season Wednesday night against Houston. Minnesota’s core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell is healthy. Newcomers Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro and Taurean Prince bring some intrigue and versatility. The roster also is peppered with talented role players such as Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Jordan McLaughlin, Josh Okogie and Naz Reid. A reminder: Chris Finch won 16 of 41 games after taking the reins about halfway through the 2020-21 campaign. Obviously, we’re jumping the gun here, but on paper this group looks much stronger than last season’s 23-49 record.