Monday, October 6, 2014

Minnesota Wild Season Preview 2014-15

2014-2015 Minnesota Wild Season Preview

2013-2014 had the Wild picking up where the left off at the end of the 2013 season, they moved up one spot to get the 7th seed and upset the Avalanche in the first round in 7 games before being eliminated in 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2nd round.  The three young guns, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter from the 2010 draft all took big steps forwards and became core pieces to future franchise success along with veterans Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, and Zach Parise.  The big addition this off season was Thomas Vanek, a goal scorer to play alongside Koivu and Parise, that's a solid first line, add players like Niederreiter, Granlund, Coyle, and Pominville into the top 6-9 mix and that's a deep team built to have regular season success and make the playoffs.

Minnesota connections-  A big Reason Vanek decided to sign with the Wild is his familiarity with Minnesota, it is where he played his college hockey and lit it up for U of Minn.  Zach Parise signed with the Wild 2 seasons ago because he is a native of the state.  Minnesota is the state of hockey and it speaks volumes of importance to this organization as they are beginning to be able to attract legitimate free agents.  Ryan Suter is a Wisconsin native and wanted to return to his mid west roots and play in a blooming hockey market alongside Zach Parise, they signed matching contracts in 2012.

Young Guns-  Not only is the Wild stocked to the brim with prospect talent, they have up and coming stars of all different skill sets.  Charlie Coyle is an absolute bruiser of a power forward, standing at 6'2 and well over 200 pounds, Jonas Brodin who is already a top pairing, well rounded defenseman, Matt Dumba also a defenseman who can lay out the hits and put up 40 points, maybe not now but he has that ability, Mikael Granlund is a top 6, 70 point potential scorer, as is Nino who is a big body who puts pucks in the net, Jason Zucker is a nice two way forward who will be a leader in the future as he has been at every level.  Minnesota has the perfect fusion of veterans and young guns.

Depth- This team is just stacked with talent, Parise, Pominville, Suter, Vanek, Koivu, Granlund, Coyle, Nino,  Zucker, and Brodin are players that you can build two teams around.  The Wild can roll 4 lines which is important in the ever improving Western Conference, teams will get past the first line and still dread lines 2-4 and will get shut down by Brodin and Suter on the regular.  Minnesota will not be fun to play against and a team that you should never count out.

Goaltending-  Goaltending may be an issue for the Wild this year, Backstrom is a shell of his former self, Josh Harding  plays lights out but deals with MS and misses games because of it.  Darcy Kuemper has to prove that he was not a one hit wonder last year when he stepped in as rookie and stole some games, and Ilya Bryzgalov who was a pleasant late season addition played surprisingly well considering his odd behavior and even worse play for the Flyers and Oilers the past couple of years.  Harding will need to be as good as he was last year and Kuemper will need to step in and prove he can have continued success.

Prediction-  Minnesota makes the playoffs and does damage, I think they at least get past the first round but anything after that is up to whether they show up or not, not out of the question for them to be in the Western Conference Finals.

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