Chicago, IL — Next up I am looking at the Minnesota Wild who Hawks fans are probably very familiar with from not only being a Central Division rival but a post season foe for several years.
While the Hawks have had their way with the Wild in the post season in the recent past, this year the Wild had the upper hand in the regular season winning the series with the Hawks 3-2 and making the post season.
Again we see the Hawks only got 4 point out of a potential of 10 so not even 50% which won’t land you in the playoffs.
If there is any consolation the Wild are now out in five games having run into a very talented, young Winnipeg Jets team.
Like the Hawks I look for the Wild to making changes this offseason if they want to compete in the Central. I would also say they are one of the oldest teams in the NHL certainly in the Central.1
All the previous teams I looked at even including the Hawks are all younger than the Wild with the Avs being the youngest in the NHL.
But like the Hawks the Wild have contracts that are pretty much not movable and also involve their core players like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu who are all this side of 30.
Matt Cullen who is in his 40’s will most likely retire.
The Wild is one team I considered last summer as one that really got hurt by the Las Vegas expansion draft. They moved Erik Haula and prospect Alex Tuch and lost a lot of speed and youth in the process.
Both players have done well with the Golden Knights and have played key roles this year in Vegas and contributed to that team’s success. So we see all teams have what I would call moments where they want a “do-over”.
The lesson to be learned for all teams is before you give up on young talents you better be truly sure they can not help your team, but I will move on because all teams make mistakes in judgements and assessments of players that is easy to see in hindsight.
The Wild also have to think of their future with 9 UFA/RFA coming up in 2018. They are : 5 Forwards incl Jason Zucker and Matt Cullen; 3D Dumba being one & 1 G Niklas Svedberg. In 2018 both Zucker and Dumba each had 2mil contracts and are both in for raises.
Nick Seeler D coming off ELC so if the Wild want to keep him which I’m sure they do they will have to ante up for him as well. Ah got to love that Cap.
.The Wild are already cap strapped depending on where the Cap rises to someone on the team may need to be moved so they may not have been able to afford Haula anyway.
A couple of years back the Wild moved on from Mike Yeo who is now coaching the St. Louis Blues which I will look at later in this series and went with Bruce Boudreau so the Wild style has changed a bit.
I also heard what I thought was an interesting comment on NHL Network sorry I don’t recall who said it but it was essentially the Wild have been so consumed with focusing on the Chicago Blackhawks rightfully so, they dispatched them three years in a row in the playoffs, that they did forget to focus on the other Central Divisions teams like the Jets, Predators ect.. valuable lessons learned for all here.
So Lets look at the Wild from Offense to Defense.
Nine players on the team had above 10% shooting percentage.2 Overall as a team they were 10% in team shooting. 35% of their shots were missed and missed wide so they were probably shooting for posts.
What I found interesting was the largest % of goals came from wristers 55%.
The rest of the shots like snap shots, tipped, deflections, slap shots and backhanders were all evenly pretty evenly used.
Snapshots and backhands were 10% of their goals with Slap shots and tips @9% and finally deflections were 6%.
So again in summary so far the Avs use deceptive shots and Dallas uses a variety of shots which the Wild are more like the Stars in using variety with more of an emphasis on wrist shots.
The Wild ended the regular season ranked 11th in goals for and 27th in Shot per game and 16th in Face offs. So they are pretty accurate overall as a team in shooting so you probably don’t want to give them too much room or get the stick in their way.
Special Teams middling 18th PP – 13th PK. The Wild were also one of the worse Corsi teams so again they are not a puck possession team.
Defensively The Wild ended the regular season ranked 11 th in GA and in SAG last year so pretty consistent here. I would say they have changed a bit from a trapping team to a more of a block and collapsing team to the house like the Avs.
The Wild were last overall in hits so they are not going to muscle you and 5th overall in block shots. Overall they are pretty balanced between offense and defense
Now lets look at their future.
The Wild did not have any first round picks in 2017 or 2013 and I already said their 2014 pick in now in Vegas. Their 2012 pick was their only top ten first round pick so you can bet they will be holding on to Dumba. The bolded picks are playing on the Wild currently.
Prospects Kirill Kaprizov is currently in KHL with CSKA down in series 1-3 going for the Gagrin Cup. He is a highly skilled offensive talent that is probably NHL ready but he’s under contract with CSKA til 2020 so luckily we will not be seeing him in Central any time soon. He has Panarin potential so lets hope he stays in the KHL.
Mike Reilly – the UFA they signed remember him? The Hawks wanted him too but the Wild won him and have since flipped him to the Montreal Canadians for a 5th rd draft pick in 2019 so there you go. He was signed by the Wild as a free agent after his junior season at the University of Minnesota. He had been previously drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. Columbus tried to sign him, but Reilly exercised his draft rights to expire to declare free agency.
Luke, Kunin – has tremendous upside up the middle if he can return to form after suffering an ACL injury which sidelined him half the year. He spent time in the AHL Wild to get conditioning and back up to speed. He is a scorer so look out.
Jordan Greenway – Is just a physical beast & true power forward and something the Wild lack and could sorely use. He will help them with possession and board battles for sure. He elected to leave NCAA Boston Univ and turn pro this year.
Louis Delpedio – Offensive defenseman with tons of skill to power plays. Probably needs work on the defensive side as most rookies do. Scouting reports say he has a very good shot and could assist the wild on special teams.
Eriksson-EK – a big Swedish center who may need time in the NHL to get used to the North American game and style. He is still young, and his skillset is very desirable and hopefully he will only get better for the Wild.
So the Wild have some decisions to make as to what will get them over the hump because now it isn’t just the Hawks they have to worry about but the entire central and how does their style translate let alone transcend which they so far have not been successful in figuring out.
Next up will be taking a look at the Nashville Predators.
- Taken from The Athletic article by James Mirtle entitled Sizing up the NHL: 2017-2018 NHL teams by age, height and weight.
- taken from http://www.foxsports.com/nhl/Minnesota-Wild-team-stats