|2016-17 season: 49-25-8, 106 points
Lost to St. Louis 4-1 in the
Western Conference Quarterfinals
|Head Coach: Bruce Boudreau (2016)|
|2nd Place Central Division||General Manager: Chuck Fletcher (2009)|
|2nd Place Western Conference||AHL Affiliate: Iowa Wild
ECHL Affiliate: Quad City Mallards
|Draft Position: Would have had the 23rd Pick|
|POS||Age||Name||Games Started||W/L Record||Shutouts||GAA||Save %|
Trades Made During the Season
|What They Acquired||Team They Traded With||In Exchange For|
|C Martin Hanzal
C Ryan White
2017 4th RD Pick
|Arizona Coyotes||F Grayson Downing
2017 1st RD Pick
2018 2nd RD Pick
Conditional 2019 4th RD Pick
|Future Considerations||Arizona Coyotes||F Teemu Pulkkinen|
|Future Considerations||Ottawa Senators||F Marc Hagel|
Impending Free Agents
|POS||Age||Name||2016-17 Cap Hit|
- The Wild have just six picks in the upcoming draft and no picks in the first two rounds. I think that they should focus on the center position with at least one of their picks as this is a position that isn’t overly deep at the NHL level and they don’t appear to have a lot of talent in the minors at the position either. I also think that they should focus on adding depth to their defense position as they are most likely going to lose one of their six NHL defensemen this offseason either through a trade or the Expansion Draft.
What I Said About Them Before the Season
- Prior to the season, I wrote my praise for the team’s hiring of Bruce Boudreau, who I consider to be among the best coaches in the NHL. The effect Boudreau had on his teams in Washington and Anaheim were quite significant and he took good teams and turned them into Stanley Cup contenders. I spent a lot of my preseason preview covering the upcoming contract decisions GM Chuck Fletcher will have to make as Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Erik Haula are all RFAs after this season. I predicted that if Boudreau was able to correct the team’s puck possession woes from last season then they would be a contender to make the playoffs.
- Success – While the Wild didn’t reach their ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup this season, they did have the best season in their franchise’s history. They had the second most points in the Western Conference and were one of the most balanced teams in the league, with nine players over the 40 point mark. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk had a Vezina-caliber season, winning 40 games, with a .923 save percentage, and just a 2.25 goals against average. Their defense also continued to solidify itself as one of the best units in hockey as Matt Dumba emerged as a steady NHL defensemen in his third full season and Jared Spurgeon developed into one of the game’s better puck-moving defensemen. The biggest surprise on the roster was veteran Eric Staal, who signed a three-year deal over the offseason after having two consecutive down seasons. This season, he was the Wild’s second-leading scorer and had his highest point total since the 2011-12 season. Minnesota was even in a position at the trade deadline to acquire talent and brought in centers Martin Hanzal and Ryan White for draft picks. This was an excellent move by Chuck Fletcher as it showed a lot of faith in the team and that their record was something worth buying into. In the playoffs, the Wild played good enough to beat the Blues, outshooting St. Louis by a wide margin over the course of the series. Their problem was that they ran into Jake Allen who was playing the best hockey of his career. At somepoint a goaltender plays so well that the opposing team can only do so much despite playing well enough to beat the opposing team.
- The first thing that the Wild will have to figure out is their situation regarding the upcoming Expansion Draft. As of right now, it appears that they are most likely to lose one of their talented blueliners that helps make up one of the best defense units in the league. I feel confident that Chuck Fletcher is going to try and move one of their defensemen prior to the Expansion Draft in order to not lose one to Vegas for nothing. I think that candidate most likely to be traded is Marco Scandella, who is 27 and is under contract through the 2019-20 season with a $4 million cap hit. He is a good defenseman and could be of significant value to a team like the Avalanche that needs a lot of help on the blueline. Perhaps the Wild could get a prospect and a higher draft pick in return, which would help the team moving forward. Moving Scandella’s contract would also help the Wild with their player personnel decisions this offseason as Grandlund, Niederreiter, and Haula are all RFAs this summer and the Wild have just over $11 million in cap space for next season. That isn’t going to be enough money to re-sign all three of these players if they are paid what they are worth. Adding Scandella’s cap to that space would certainly give them enough room to re-sign all three plus look at the free agent market. There isn’t a lot that needs to be done for this team going forward as they have a very solid core that has proven to be a winning group. One decision they will have to make is what they want to do at the backup goaltender position as Darcy Kuemper is a free agent this offseason. Regardless of what they decide to do at this position, Minnesota’s roster shouldn’t undergo much turnover this summer and will likely enter next season as one of the favorites to win the Central Division.
*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*