Believe what you want, but the Minnesota Wild will not make the playoffs this year.
You’ve heard it all before, from Brian Burke going to be the savior for the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Edmonton Oilers picking (insert any of their last first round draft picks) will finally get them into the playoffs. Now, Minnesota Wild fans believe the addition of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will propel them to win the Stanley Cup.
Though I will not jump on the Stanley Cup bound bandwagon, I will however agree that the Wild are making steps in the right direction to be competitive. Both last year and this year, the Wild have seen drastic changes to their team make-up.
Two seasons ago the Wild picked up Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. The moves came at the price of Martin Havlat and Brent Burns. The moves, in part, paid off. Heatley lead the team in points with 53 while Setoguchi added 19 goals and 17 assists in 69 games played that saw him miss time because of an ankle injury. The teams scoring dropped however, losing 37 goals from the year previous, but the team allowed ten less goals.
This year the team won the free agency frenzy, adding both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Seeing the need to boost their offense while adding to the depth and talent of the defense, both players will definitely contribute.
Parise spent his whole career with the New Jersey Devils. Coming off of a solid season, he contributed 31 goals and 38 assists for 69 points in 82 games played. The Devils surprised everyone by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings. Many thought that Parise would want to stay with a team that showed so much potential, but for him, the want to play in Minnesota was more important. Parise was born in Minneapolis, MN.
“The idea of coming home and being around family had a big impact on me,” Parise said. “Every kid who grows up in Minnesota would love to play for the Wild. That’s the way it is.”
Similar, Suter also wanted to be close to friends.
“Ryan and I had talked throughout the year,” Parise said. “We would always say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a chance to play with each other?’ Was it realistic all of the time? I don’t know.”
Suter and Parise played together in the U.S. Hockey program. The 6 foot 1 inch, 198 pound defender brings with him a defensive grit that every team dreams of. Last year with the Nashville Predators he had 7 goals and 39 assists for 46 points. Further, he was a plus 15 with 116 blocked shots.
The additions over the last two years have definitely added talent, but also shine light on the lack of depth for the team. Consisting of only two offensive lines, the team will be struggling against most top end teams. To make matters worse, besides Suter, the defensive core is mostly made up of unknowns. That does not go to say they do not have talent, they do, but it once again is not as talented as most other teams in the NHL. Even more, goaltending is of worry. Netminder Niklas Backstrom has had a career of minor injuries from lower-back pain to groin issues that sees him miss time nearly every year. Backup Josh Harding has filled in when needed, but with a career 2.65 goals against average, he is sub-par at best.
The Minnesota Wild are moving in the right direction, but Wild fans will be quickly reminded that success does not happen over night. This year the Wild will miss the playoffs, and perhaps even the next if they do not address some more depth issues. In a few years, however, the team will definitely be a perennial Stanley Cup threat.