Category Archives: Minnesota Wild

2015-16 Minnesota Wild Preview – The Time is NOW!

2015-16 Minnesota Wild Preview - The Time Is NOW!

For the Minnesota Wild, The Time Is NOW!!!

The most anticipated season in Minnesota Wild franchise history is about to begin. They have a bunch of pieces in place to be a contender for the Stanley Cup. They just have to put all those pieces together consistently night after night, get home ice advantage and take it from there. Sounds easy enough, right? Yeah, easier said than done.

There’s a lot of pieces to put together for this Wild team. The good news is most of those pieces haven’t changed from last season. Usually teams get better as they play together more often and this team was the top team in the National Hockey League from January 15th to the end of the regular season last year with a record of 28-9-3. Can they be put it all together and be one of the top teams in the league for an entire season? That’s the big question.

A foundation of leadership was set when the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year/$98 million contracts on July 4th, 2012. Most people expected those signings to provide immediate results but it was the beginning of a team developing into a contender with that leadership combining with the depth the organization was building through the draft and trades. The time is now for that combination to become a Stanley Cup contending team.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had tough seasons last year, both losing their fathers during the season. Zach still put up decent numbers with 33 goals. Suter said himself after the season that it was “just a bad year.

Mikko Koivu had his worst season since his rookie year but he got it going in February & March. Thomas Vanek’s 52 points (21 Gs, 31 As) was his lowest point total since his rookie season back in 2006. Jason Pominville only scored 18 goals and missed on a lot of great chances.

There was a few young players like Nino Niederreiter, Jason, Zucker, Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba that had good seasons. For the most part though, there wasn’t any great performances by Minnesota Wild players last season and they still took this team to the postseason and to an upset of the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Getting swept in the 2nd round by the Chicago Blackhawks gave us a bad feeling on the season but it was another step just because of the way they performed in the second half and what they overcame. They aren’t looking to take any more steps.

The Minnesota Wild are ready to win this season. They have their number one goalie in Devan Dubnyk and capable backups in Darcy Kuemper & Niklas Backstrom. They have the leadership in the room and on the ice in Parise, Koivu and Suter and they have a bunch of young players ready to breakout and provide scoring and the depth a contending team needs to hoist the Cup.

Almost everyone on the team can be better this season, save for maybe Devan Dubnyk. We know Parise will bring 30+ goals and 60+ points. Pominville is good for 20+ and 60+, Suter had a bad season with 2 goals and 38 points when his career highs are 8 goals and 46 points. Vanek had a disappointing season and still had 21 goals. Is it completely out of the question that those players could all have better seasons in 2015-16?

Now pair that with better seasons from Mikael Granlund (8 Gs, 39 pts), Nino Niederreiter (24 Gs), Jason, Zucker (21 Gs), Charlie Coyle (11 Gs, 35 pts, +13), Marco Scandella (11 Gs, 23 points, 4 GWGs, +8), Matt Dumba (8 Gs, 16 points, 2 PPGs, 2 GWGs +13), Jonas Brodin (3 Gs, 17 pts, +21) and there’s still Justin Fontaine, Erik Haula and up and coming prospect Tyler Graovac.

This team was already one of the best defensive teams giving up the 4th least amount of goals, 4th least amount of shots against while having the best penalty kill in the league. The 27th ranked Power Play will change in scheme and in personnel. This team is ready to Go Wild in 2015-16!

Fun Fact:

Mike Yeo has coached the Minnesota Wild to a better record in each of his first 4 seasons.

Avoiding the streaks of bad, inconsistent play will go a long way into making this season the best in Minnesota Wild franchise history!

Do you believe The Time Is Now for the Minnesota Wild? Will they contend for the Stanley Cup in 2015-16?


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Will Charlie Coyle Go Wild this season?

Will Charlie Coyle Go Wild this season?

Will we see this reaction a lot this season from Minnesota Wild fans?

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.”

Charlie Coyle - Poised to make an impact

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.

Charlie Coyle Amazing Goal from behind net vs Oilers - 1-27-2015

You’d probably think shoot here but you’re not Charlie Coyle.

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.  

So, do you think Charlie Coyle will Go Wild this season? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or Google+!

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Who is Going WILD in Minnesota in 2015-16?

Who is Going WILD in 2015-16?

Will the Minnesota Wild take the next step to become a Stanley Cup contending team?

The Minnesota Wild will be primarily the same team for the 2015-16 season. The same team swept in the 2nd round of the playoffs by a familiar opponent, the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Down 3-0 after the 1st period of Game 1, they came back with 3 goals in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd, and I’m sure most fans thought “Here we go. This is the team I remember!” Once they came back though, Chicago adjusted and turned it up a notch and the Wild lost that 1st game on a late 2nd period goal.

From that moment on, the team we saw go on that great run to make the playoffs seemed to disappear. As if all the hard work to get into the playoffs and get past the St. Louis Blues in round 1 had taken its toll. The energy and confidence in their game was gone. They looked tired physically and defeated mentally. It was difficult to watch.

So why should we expect a better Wild in 2015-16?

The Wild were 18-19-5 with 40 games to play. That’s not the worst record to have in 42 games but it was how they got there that had everyone throwing the season away. From December until January 13th, they went 5-10-4 after starting 13-9-1. They were getting worse, not better and a 41 points in 42 games pace does not a playoff team make.

The Wild have solved their goalie situation. Darcy Kuemper was thrust into the starting role at the beginning of the season and he, like the team, started off well but wasn’t ready to be a number one goalie this early in his career. Niklas Backstrom, once again, was battling through injuries and wasn’t really an option so the Wild rode Kuemper until they realized he wasn’t the answer. He looks to have that ability but needs more time. Not many people thought a little trade for Devan Dubnyk, the backup in Arizona, would make a difference but the Wild would finish with 100 points and make the playoffs as the first Wild Card team and the 7th seed in the Western Conference. Devan Dubnyk re-signed with the Minnesota Wild for 6 years/$26 million in July.

Every player who played over 20 games is still on the roster except for Kyle Brodziak. He played in 73 games, providing a bottom-6 role last season. Now, every role is important and though most people weren’t big fans of Kyle Brodziak, he played his role well. That being said, the Wild have other players and prospects that should be able to step in and fill the spot vacated by Kyle Brodziak signing with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent.

They chose not to bring back Chris Stewart, Sean Bergenheim and Jordan Leopold. They brought back Nate Prosser and Ryan Carter and added Mike Reilly from the Minnesota Gophers. So the core of this team is still here. There’s very few players that have to come in and learn Mike Yeo’s system.

The Wild have youth on their side. They have players ready to take the next step in their careers and help this team be successful. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, Erik Haula, etc… Now they just have to do it.

In the next week, we will #BringTheClutter with articles about who could be Going WILD this season. The season starts in just 8 Days!!! EIGHT DAYS!!! ONE WEEK from tomorrow!!! ARE YOU READY???

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Minnesota Wild Roster at the Beginning of Free Agent Frenzy


Cap Space for the Minnesota Wild from

Cap Space for the Minnesota Wild from

The Minnesota Wild’s 2014-15 season ended with a sweep from the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. A lot of people reacted saying the Wild had a long way to go to become contenders in the NHL and need to make big changes to get there.

The 2014-15 Minnesota Wild was the best in the NHL in the 2nd half of the season, a team that was 18-19-5, written off by fans, critics and all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Then on January 14th, 2014, the Wild was reborn when GM Chuck Fletcher made a little trade for a goalie named Devan Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2015 3rd-round draft pick.

Of course, pretty much nobody thought this would change much for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk wasn’t a big name goalie by any stretch of the imagination. He had never been a part of a winning team in his 6 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers (5 seasons, 171 games played(GP)), the Nashville Predators* (1 season, 2 GP) and the Arizona Coyotes (1 season, 19 GP).

*The 2013-14 Nashville Predators did end the seasons with a winning record but Dubnyk was only there for 50 days before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. The day he was traded to NSH, they were 20-21-7 and they were 26-26-10 when he was traded away.

Interesting that the day Devan Dubnyk arrived with the Wild, they were not a winning team either at 1 game under .500. Then the Minnesota Wild A.D. (After Dubnyk) began. Devan Dubnyk would start 38 consecutive games, not getting a day off until after the Wild had clinched a playoff spot. The Wild would go 28-9-3 AD and make the playoffs, upset the St. Louis Blues in the 1st round but be eliminated by Chicago in the 2nd round.

So, do they really need to make big changes to their roster or should they keep the core group and tweak the roster and give this team a chance to see what they can do in a full season with Devan Dubnyk in the cage?

Could they even make big changes to the roster? They don’t have a lot of room under the salary cap so the only way they could make changes is via trade. That would be difficult as well with a lot of players having No Move or No Trade clauses and a lot of money left on their contracts.

Yes, there’s some young guys that could be traded like a Jared Spurgeon and maybe some prospects but that probably wouldn’t be enough to make “big” changes. I’m sure Chuck Fletcher isn’t interested in going that route anyways. He’s been pretty adamant about keeping his young prospects in the fold.

The Minnesota Wild have just under $8 million to spend on free agents according to and that’s without the eventual signings of Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin. The Brown Fox always leaves some under the cap for injuries and trades too so don’t get too excited about the 1st day of the Frenzy.

Here’s a look at the Minnesota Wild’s Depth Chart, who might battle for spots and who might be options in free agency.

Depth Chart for 2015-16
Left Wing – Center – Right Wing
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Jordan Schroeder? – Erik Haula – Brent Sutter?

In the battle: Tyler Graovac, Michael Keranen, Brett Bulmer, Raphael Bussieres, Grayson Downing, Jared Knight, Kurtis Gabriel, Zack Mitchell, Brady Brassart, Pavel Jenys, Christoph Bertschy

Free Agency Options: Ryan Carter, Kyle Brodziak, Chris Stewart, Curtis Glencross, Devin Setoguchi, Blair Jones, Eric Fehr

Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon
Christian Folin? – Matt Dumba

In the battle: Mike Reilly, Jon Blum, Gustav Olofsson, Guillaume Gelinas, Dylan Labbe, Zach Palmquist, Alex Gudbranson, Hunter Warner

Free Agent Options: Jordan Leopold, Nate Prosser, Tim Gleason, Matt Irwin…


In the battle: Brady Hoffman, Stephen Michalek

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Minnesota Wild Game 3 Recap – Wild lose 1-0! Is it over?

Minnesota Wild lose Game 3, 1-0!

On the power play, a deflected puck ends up being the difference in Game 3. Wild lose 1-0!

Minnesota Wild can’t get on the board against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3. Patrick Kane’s 1st period power play goal holds up as Chicago takes a 3 games to none lead in the 2nd round series.

The Wild came out flying in the 1st period getting a couple good scoring chances but Chicago withstood the opening surge and only helped build their confident play. The Wild would get the 1st power play of the game but Chicago’s renewed confidence on defense has rubbed off on their penalty kill too. The Wild, who had their power play going, now have trouble getting in the zone and when they do, they can’t even get a shot on goal.

The Blackhawks would also get a power play in the 1st period and would get a fortuitous bounce to help them score their 1st goal of the game. Johnathan Toews makes a backhand pass from just inside his own zone to Patrick Sharp coming up the right boards in the neutral zone. Sharp tries to make a pass to Andrew Shaw coming up the middle of the ice but the puck is on edge so it’s a slow, wobbly pass and Matt Cooke gets a piece of it but it deflects up the middle. Matt Dumba, playing the right defense position, moves toward the puck and Shaw, leaving Patrick Kane alone coming up the left side. Shaw hears Kane yelling for the puck so he chops at it to get it over to Kane. Patrick Kane gets the pass and beats Devan Dubnyk through the five-hole to score the 1st goal of the game.

Matt Dumba has to know that’s Patrick Kane coming up the left side and can’t leave an opening for the puck to get over there. He either has to make a better play on the deflected puck. Something different than the sweeping poke check that is a one and done If it doesn’t work, like it didn’t. He also should know he has Marco Scandella on his left, who can make a play on that puck. I don’t necessarily blame Dumba for going after that puck. I just think he could’ve played it better and not given so much of a chance for the puck to get to the most dangerous player on the rink in this series.

The Minnesota Wild would get plenty of chances to tie the game, but Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks would stop every one of them and put the Wild on the brink of elimination with a 3 games to none lead in the series.

This series has turned into a tale of two teams that changed after the 2nd period of Game 1. That’s the last time the Minnesota Wild looked like a hungry team that refused to be stopped and the last time the Chicago Blackhawks team looked like a team with some defensive holes.

Since that Game 1 2nd period, the Minnesota Wild has played a passive game, waiting for something to happen, while the Blackhawks have played an active game, aggressively making something happen. This change has gotten in the heads of both teams. The Blackhawks confidence is growing. The Wild’s confidence is dwindling.

What happens to a player’s and/or a team’s game when confidence goes up or down? A player struggling with confidence waits for that perfect goal, the easy tap-in, the tic-tac-toe beautiful play that rarely happens. They don’t shoot the puck quickly. They hold the puck or try to make a move to get a closer look and the majority of the time, a shot never occurs. The play is broken up or the goalie is given plenty of time to cut the angle down and make the save.

A player playing with confidence shoots the puck quickly knowing that’s the best way to score. A quick shot means the goalie doesn’t have time to square up and get ready for the shot and even if the goalie makes the save, there’s a high probability a rebound will happen as a result of that quick shot and the confident team has a player ready to pounce on that rebound when it happens.

One of the reasons I picked the Wild to win in six games was their poise and confidence. It was questioned in Game 4 of the 1st round against St. Louis. After that game, the Wild played games 5 and 6 with the belief they would win the game. Obviously, if you’ve watched Game 2 and Game 3  against Chicago, that belief and that confidence is barely there. It’s been replaced by frustration and doubt. They are playing like a team that doesn’t know how to play anymore or how to figure out what to do against the Blackhawks.

The reason I picked the Blackhawks to lose the series is because they didn’t seem to be a good defensive team in their series against the Nashville Predators. They were allowing comebacks and a lot of goals and they had to use both goalies out of necessity, not by choice. A team not playing great defensively and having issues between the pipes usually has a difficult time winning in the playoffs.

I described the goal as being a fortuitous bounce for the Blackhawks. Am I saying they are getting more bounces than the Wild? Yes and no. As a team, you can’t blame or credit good or bad bounces as the reason why you are winning or losing. The Wild are all too familiar with bad bounces against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Last season came to an end on a bounce off a stanchion behind the net that went right to Patrick Kane. Bang! Season Over! Ouch!

We’ll see what the Minnesota Wild can do in Game 4 on Thursday night at 8:30pm. Will a bounce end the series again? Will the Wild get back to their game and actually get a lead in a game for the first time in the 2nd round and extend the series to a 5th game?

Don’t give up on the Minnesota Wild! They aren’t giving up so neither should you!

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