Minnesota Wild 2017-2018 Season Preview
Can the Wild Get To the Playoffs for a Sixth Straight Season?
The Minnesota Wild are coming off of a year where they had the fifth best record in the league and made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Along with those impressive feats, the 2016-2017 Wild team finished second best in the league for goal differential as well as goals for, both of which were the tops in the Western Conference. Our Minnesota Wild 2017-2018 Season Preview expects this team to have similar success this upcoming year.
The Wild’s offense is very balanced in terms of scoring and point production. The highest scoring totals came from Mikael Granlund who factored in 26 goals and 43 assists. Nine Players on the roster put up 40 or more points last season. The offense also features Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Coyle factored in 56 points last season, while Niederreiter scored 25 goals and 32 assists. Both players are still approaching their primes and are on pace to put up more points in 2017-2018 while rounding out their games at the NHL level.
Minnesota boasts one of the deepest teams of centermen in the NHL. Eric Staal, Granlund, and MIkko Koivu return again this year, all of whom put up solid numbers in 2016-2017. Koivu finished with the least points of the three at 58, while Staal finished first on the team in goals with 28 and second in points with 65. The fourth line center position is likely to be filled by Joel Eriksson Ek, the team’s first-round pick from 2015. Eriksson Ek played 15 games for the team last season after being recalled from Farjestad BK in the Swedish Elite League, where he scored 16 points in 26 games.
The Minnesota Wild’s biggest loss on offense this summer came when the team traded Jason Pominville to the Buffalo Sabres. Pominiville was traded along with defenseman Marco Scandella, back to the team that drafted him in 2001, for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a pick. Last season Pominiville finished sixth on the team in scoring, posting 13 goals and 34 assists for 47 points. The biggest problem with Tyler Ennis has been his health. Last season Ennis missed 30 games to a groin injury, and in the 2015-2016 season he missed 45 games to an upper body injury. When healthy in the years prior, Ennis has shown skill and creativity and if he can stay healthy he should be a good addition to the offense.
Minnesota also features a solid and balanced group on the blue line. They are led by Ryan Suter, who has been a workhorse his entire career. The American finished third in the league in time on ice, averaging 26:55 minutes per game. Since joining the Wild in the 2012-2013 season he is yet to play less than this in his career. Suter also led the team’s defensemen in points with 40. Along with Suter, Jared Spurgeon eats a lot of minutes for the team. Spurgeon averaged 24:01 of time on ice while posing 38 points in 76 games played. The Wild’s top D-pairing of Suter and Spurgeon finished the season with plus-minus ratings of +34 and +33 respectivly, good for first and third in the entire league.
Jonas Brodin and Mathew Dumba are also expected to be key contributors from the backend. The two young blueliners have developed steadily thus far in their careers and look to be on trajectory to take on even larger roles this season.
Minnesota finished seventh in the NHL in goals against in the 2016-2017 seasons, a large part due to the play of Devan Dubynk. Dubnyk has been a rock in the crease since coming to the Wild three years ago. Last season The Regina, Saskatchewan native put together a 40 win season, with a 2.25 GAA and a .923 save percentage. All these numbers were in at least the top eight for each category among all goaltenders. Dubnyk has really developed into an elite goaltender over the past couple years, finishing fifth in Vezina Trophy voting for the 2016-2017 season. Look for him to have another strong season in 2017-2018.
Minnesota Wild 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
The Minnesota Wild look poised to have another impressive season. They have all the makings of a great playoff caliber team including a deep roster of centermen and defensemen, as well as elite goaltending. Many top contributors such as Coyle and Niederreiter are still nearing their prime and can be expected to increase their production from a year ago. The team looks deep on defense and has a top netminder in Dubnyk. Look for the Wild to finish near the top of the Central Division in the 207-2018 season.
- Minnesota features a balanced offense that does not rely too much on one player. The team is deep at center and offense can come from a range of individuals.
- On Defense, the team is looking solid with Suter, Spurgeon, Dumba, and Brodin anchoring the backend
- The Wild have elite goaltending in Devan Dubnyk, who has been stellar while playing in Land of 10,000 Lakes.