Minnesota Wild - Expecting A Deep Playoff Run
By Aaron Heckmann
The Minnesota Wild have six straight playoff appearances and have yet to get past the second round in those six years. The Wild have been eliminated three straight years in the first round. You're probably wondering why the Wild would go from elimination to a deep playoff run, well, let me explain. Now, the Wild have not dramatically changed their roster in the offseason this year, but they have added some key players needed to fulfill the elements the Wild are missing. The Minnesota Wild were slowed down last year with an abundant supply of injuries and were still able to finish third in an extremely hard central division with 101 points. Expect a deep playoff run and a Stanley cup.
The Minnesota Wild were missing key players for the majority of all last season. Let's start with forward Luke Kunin who was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft. As a top prospect, Kunin was predicted to have a good rookie season. But his season was cut short when he tore a ligament in his left knee and had to get knee surgery. Kunin played 19 games last year and is now with the Iowa Wild. He will be with the Iowa Wild until he is healthy enough to come back. This was a killer for the Wild. Ryan Suter suffered a fracture in his right ankle in the last week of the season which ended his season. Zach Parise missed the first half of the season last year but he made his presence known with 12 goals in the last 18 games of the season. Parise then scored a goal in each of the first three playoff games before fracturing his sternum in game three and would be out for the remainder of the playoffs. Parise was arguably one of the best players last year after returning from injury. Just imagine if he would have been healthy all year. Jared Spurgeon, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter were out 56 games between the three of them which hurt the Wild. They were all big pieces that were missing. Also, Marcus Foligno suffered a broken cheekbone which slowed down his first year with the Wild. Jonas Brodin and Mikael Granlund were out 14 games between the two of them, which didn't help. To sum it all up, the Minnesota Wild were battling injuries all year and were not able to stay healthy.
Jason Zucker was one of Minnesota's best players last season with 33 goals and 31 assists which totals to a career high of 64 points. Another player who had an amazing season was Eric Staal, who had 42 goals and 34 assists which totals for 76 points. This was Eric Staal’s best season since 2005 when he hit the 100 point mark. In addition, Eric Staal tied Marian Gaborik for most goals in a season in Minnesota Wild history, 42. Matt Dumba led the wild defenseman with 14 goals and was second in points by defenseman on the Wild with 50 points. Mikael Granlund had his second straight season with 20+ goals and 67+ points. Devan Dubnyk has his third straight 32+ win season and had a .918 save percentage. Marcus Foligno had almost 200 hits and was Minnesota's most physical player. These were the most successful players last year who helped Minnesota reach 100 points despite all of the injuries.
The Minnesota Wild did not make a huge trade or sign any big players, but they did pick up some players that will help with the lack of physicality. The biggest acquisitions were defenseman Greg Pateryn, and forward Matt Hendricks, who were picked up for their physicality and big presence. Pateryn had a career high last year with 155 hits. He is 6”3 and 223 pounds. Hendricks had 123 hits. He is 6”0 and 211 pounds. As well as Eric Fehr who is 6”4 and 209 pounds. Another addition to the Wild was Minnesota native, JT Brown, who has reached 100 hits twice in his career. Lastly, the Wild added Matt Read who may or may not be on the starting roster. Read has reached 20 goals twice in his career, so he could be a perfect addition to the fourth line. The Minnesota Wild have also added new assistant coach Dean Evason and new general manager Paul Fenton.