2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Minnesota Wild

Key Offseason Additions: Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, Darroll Powe, Mike Lundin

Key Offseason Losses: Martin Havlat, Andrew Brunette, Brent Burns, Antti Miettinen, Chuck Kobasew, Jose Theodore

Last Season Ranking: 12th in the West

Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley should tear it up this season offensively. But will it be enough to offset a poor defensive bunch?

Offense: The Minnesota Wild have added two key players in Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley to replace Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette. The additions of the snipers should outperform their predecessors, especially in the goals categories.

Heatley had a down season last year with 26 goals and 38 assists while Setoguchi had a solid 4th year posting 41 points, 22 of which were goals. The two are currently slotted with Captain Mikko Koivu which will make for an absolutely awesome line to watch.

Koivu is the heart and soul of the organization, speaking softly, letting his hard work day in and day out talk for him instead. Last year he suffered a hand injury that saw him sidelined for 11 games, possibly impacting his play throughout the season. Still, 62 points in 71 games is a very respectable production. Make note, 45 of those points were assists, something that will play to both Setoguchi and Heatley’s shoot first pass second tendencies.

For the Wild to really not only survive but win key games this upcoming season, they need the help of their second and third lines. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Guilaume Latendresse, Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak all need to step it up this season.

From a fantasy perspective, Brodziak is a talented, under valued player that should reach the 40 point mark this year in his 5th full season as a professional. Pick him up late in the draft as most managers will overlook him.

Defense: What positive vibes Wild fans are getting about the offensive changes, they are getting equally negative ones for the defense. The Wild opted to part ways with Brent Burns, a player who was not only a fan favorite, a solid defensive player, but perhaps one of the best offensive defenseman in the league. Sure the point getting is primarily for the offense, but 46 points is going to be sorely missed this season.

No avoiding it, the Wild have perhaps one of the worst bluelines in the league. The team’s previous defense first mentality is now being replaced with relying heavily on their scorers. Mareky Zidlicky struggled last year with hamstring issues, Nick Schultz has yet to break 20 points in a single season, and there really is no other player worth mentioning.

Simply put, it is going to be another tough season for this guy…

Goaltending: Niklas Backstrom has another tough year a head of him. He has been the glue holding this team together, 50 games started and a .920 save percentage. This year expect him to see more shots. Whether he benefits from that or not we will soon find out.

HWB Playoff Prediction: Not Playoff bound. The vote for Minnesota was actually 3-1 that they would make the playoffs, however, after considering the competition in the West, we felt they were not quite there yet.

One comment

  1. Lets also bring up the fact that their jerseys just aren’t cool enough. If they had better looking jerseys they would be in the playoffs for sure…

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