Charlie Coyle was the main acquisition back in 2011 when the Minnesota Wild traded defenseman and fan favorite Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks. The trade never would’ve happened if Charlie Coyle was not included as part of the first big blockbuster trade made by Chuck Fletcher. The trade also included Devin Setoguchi and the Sharks 2011 1st round pick (28th overall, the Wild chose F Zack Phillips.)
Devin Setoguchi was the big name when the trade went down, having come off three straight seasons of 20+ goals (31, 20, 22 from 2008-2011) and being a factor in the playoffs for the San Jose Sharks. Devin looked ready to be a top 6 player on a growing Minnesota Wild team. Turns out Mr. Setoguchi may have been a product of the players around him in San Jose as he couldn’t live up to that top 6 role for the Wild. He scored 32 goals & 31 assists over 2 seasons & 117 regular season games for the Wild and ended up being traded to Winnipeg for a 2014 4th round pick after the 2012-13 season. Maybe it just wasn’t a good match of player and team.
Setoguchi never realizing his potential with the Wild just reaffirmed Charlie Coyle being the main player in the trade. When the Wild acquired him, Charlie had just finished his freshman season of college hockey with the Boston University Terriers of Hockey East. He won New England & Hockey East Freshman of the Year* scoring 26 points on 7 goals and 19 assists in 37 games. He also played for Team USA in the 2011 World Junior Championships, helping them win a Bronze Medal and tying for the team lead in points with 6 on 2 goals and 4 assists.
*In his 1st collegiate game, Charlie scored a goal and had an assist in a 4-3 win over Wisconsin. Us Minnesotans like that! Yeah, CHARLIE!
In his sophomore season at BU, Charlie would only play in 16 games for the Terriers before making a decision to leave Boston University to join the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
“Yes, I have made my decision to leave BU because I’m done being a student-athlete and I want to focus on just hockey,” Coyle said via text. “I was not failing out.”
“It was definitely a hard decision to make and I will miss my teammates and coaches. BU was a great place to be and I enjoyed my time there.”
Once he joined St. John, Charlie went on a tear, collecting 38 points (15 Gs, 23 As) in only 23 games. In the playoffs, he lead the Sea Dogs to the QMJHL President’s Cup and became only the 2nd American-born player to be named Playoff MVP scoring 15 goals & adding 19 assists in only 17 games.
Charlie played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 2012 as well but this time, they wouldn’t fare well, failing to make it to the medal round. I remember watching Charlie Coyle though and loving the way he played both ends of the ice, backchecking hard no matter what the score or how much time was remaining in the game.
The 2012-13 NHL season didn’t start on time due to a lockout so Charlie Coyle started the season in the AHL with the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild’s minor league affiliate at the time. Head coach of the Aeros, John Torchetti felt Charlie Coyle was going to “make an impact on the Wild for two reasons: He’s no-maintenance, high-character and he’s so good, so willing defensively.”
Torchetti loved Coyle’s terrific skating, eagerness to go to the dirty areas, great release and, of course, the fact that he looked like a future top scorer but he didn’t think you could play in today’s NHL without the defensive component, and Coyle was his “most consistent, complete forward night in and night out since the start of the year.”
The NHL season began in January with a shortened 48-game season. The Wild called up Charlie Coyle for the 9th game of the season and put him on the 2nd line and moved him to the top line soon afterwards. He’d play in 37 games that first season and have only 14 points (8 goals & 6 assists) but would show flashes of being the power forward most of us expect him to be. He’d have several Beast Mode* shifts in the offensive zone where he’d possess the puck for 20 seconds or so and the opponent couldn’t muscle him off the puck or get it off his stick.
*I now refer to this as Coyle Mode as it seems to be something only he can do.
Since that first season, he’s been moved around to different lines playing center or wing. He’d have a better 2nd season in terms of points with 30 (12G, 18A) but his +/- suffered as he was no longer on the top line and was still adapting to the NHL game and Mike Yeo’s system.
In late January last season, Charlie Coyle scored an amazing goal on a breakaway in Edmonton. You have to see it to believe it. Words don’t do it justice but I’ll try. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone, getting a breakaway coming up the left side of the ice but he has two Oiler players chasing him down forcing him to keep going to the left of goalie Viktor Fasth so he just around Fasth behind the net and somehow moves the puck back towards the net with his backhand and has just enough room to get the puck in front and tap it in all while still moving.
Here’s the goal and replays!
Mike Yeo was putting Coyle (& Nino) on the fourth line trying to teach them to play a complete game saying he did this to give them a “chance to reset their game,” take pressure off and give them the mindset to get in on the forecheck, play in the offensive zone and simplify things in order to start feeling confident in their games again.
It worked pretty well. Charlie Coyle was playing his best hockey after the All-Star break. In 36 games, he had 16 points (6G, 10A) and was a +17 for plus/minus. Compare that to 19 points (5G, 14A) and a -4 in 46 games before the All-Star break.
There’s several reasons why Charlie Coyle is poised to Go Wild and have a breakout season for the Minnesota Wild:
He is 6’ 3” tall and weighs 221 pounds so he can be physical in on the forecheck. We’ve already seen him use that size to protect the puck and be a physical force in the offensive zone. He knows what to expect from a full season now, especially after going through two full seasons. He’s learned how to use that big frame to his advantage.
He’s improved defensively so he won’t be a liability when he’s out on the ice and coach Mike Yeo can rely on him to do the right things on the ice. That should get him more time on the ice.
He’s versatile. He can play center or right wing so he can fill different roles on different lines. He has been used on the power play and on the penalty kill in the preseason. He could replace Kyle Brodziak’s minutes in PK situations.
He’s improved his faceoff skills making him an option to be used in some situations where the Wild need a faceoff win in either zone.
He’s only 23 years old and his new contract kicks in this season. Last season he took the All-Star break to get his confidence back and he finished the season very well.
He led the Wild in preseason scoring with 8 points on 1 goal & 7 assists in 4 games played. Yes, it’s the preseason. I know but it shows progress.
What would a Charlie Coyle breakout season look like? How many points, goals & assists does he need to be considered Going Wild? I would say he should have 15+ goals & 35+ assists for 50+ points. That would definitely help the Wild take the next step for this franchise.
Thanks for reading and always….