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.
Ryan Suter on this year (clearly meaning personally w his dad/professionally): “Bad dream. Nightmare. Just a bad year.” #mnwild
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) May 8, 2015
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!
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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