The Minnesota Wild are an interesting team to follow this season. Thanks to late season heroics from Devan Dubnyk the Wild managed to claw their way back into a playoff spot. Without Duby’s 38 consecutive starts, 27 of which were wins there is little to no chance that this would have been a playoff contender last spring. Not that the team is bad or anything but they are not a powerhouse by any stretch. They are solid if not spectacular offensively, top third defensively, very bad on the power-play and the number one ranked team on the PK.
Key Additions: LW Ruslan Fedetenko, C Zac Dalpe, D Mike Rielly, and D Tyson Strachan
Key Departures: C Kyle Brodziak, LW Matt Cooke, RW Chris Stewart, G Josh Harding
Roster Contenders: LW Brett Sutter, C Tyler Graovac, RW Michael Keranen, D Jonathon Blum
Last season the Wild finished with a 46-28-8 record, good enough for sixth in the Western conference and 11th overall in the league. As I already stated before though Devan Dubnyk and his herculean efforts are responsible for 27 of those wins. Just goes to show what kind of season the team was having prior to acquiring Duby from Arizona.
This is a team that could go either way this season. If Dubnyk can replicate his performance from this past season the team should be sitting pretty but should his numbers regress back closer to his career averages the WIld could be in for a long season.
The only real positives that I can see from the off-season additions is Mike Rielly. Granted I can’t help but think we could be looking at Justin Schultz 2.0. He sounds eerily similar to what we heard the summer that Justin was so highly sought after. I guess time will tell if there is more to Rielly’s game than there was Schultz’s because every Oilers fan knows how unhappy we are with his performance to date. Personally I am much happier with the Wild signing Tyson Strachan but that is for purely selfish reasons. Tyson is my first cousin so his return to the Western conference means I get to see him play more than twice this season!
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pomenville
Thomas Vanek – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Ryan Carter – Erik Haula – Jordan Schroeder
Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Jared Spurgeon – Mathew Dumba
Marco Scandella – Christian Folin
The Wild were fourth in the ultra tough Central division and will be looking to duplicate that finish or better. Their main competition this season is St. Louis, Chicago and Nashville. My money is on the Wild making the post-season but as a Wild Card team this year.
The player to watch, aside from Dubnyk is Mike Rielly. He will have to be lights out good to crack the opening night roster. I predict a season in the AHL with the farm team is his likely destination. Wild fans better hope he is closer to Karlsson than Schultz.