|4th in Northwest Division|
|13th in Western Conf.|
|GM: Doug Risebrough|
|COACH: Todd Richards|
|$56,653,000 ($3.0M below cap)|
One of the newest franchises in the NHL, the ten-year-old Wild came in to replace the departed North Stars. The fan base is as devoted as any in the nation, but the team has yet to experience a Stanley Cup finals appearance… and this year isn’t looking like it will be their year.
After finishing in third in the Northwest in 2008-2009, the Wild lost their top goal scorer in Marian Gaborik to free agency. But that was hardly the end of their struggles, as injuries were one of their downfalls last season. Niklas Backstrom had hip surgery and didn’t do well after that in the offseason. Josh Harding suffered a knee injury in preseason which forced him to miss a lot of action. Keeping healthy this year will be key.
If all the pieces come together and the team is the healthiest in the league, there’s an outside chance at the playoffs. But Todd Richards still has his work cut out for him in the Northwest, and it will be hard for the Wild to crack a tough Western Conference picture this season.
|96||F||Pierre-Marc Bouchard||5′ 10″||173||26|
|21||F||Kyle Brodziak||6′ 2″||209||26|
|15||F||Andrew Brunette||6′ 1″||210||37|
|22||F||Cal Clutterbuck||5′ 11″||213||22|
|7||F||Matt Cullen||6′ 1″||200||33|
|24||F||Martin Havlat||6′ 2″||217||29|
|28||F||Matt Kassian||6′ 4″||232||23|
|12||F||Chuck Kobasew||6′ 0″||192||28|
|9||F||Mikko Koivu||6′ 2″||200||27|
|48||F||Guillaume Latendresse||6′ 2″||230||23|
|11||F||John Madden||5′ 11″||190||37|
|20||F||Antti Miettinen||6′ 0″||190||30|
|23||F||Eric Nystrom||6′ 1″||193||27|
|51||F||James Sheppard||6′ 2″||210||22|
|16||F||Brad Staubitz||6′ 1″||215||26|
|17||F||Casey Wellman||6′ 0″||173||22|
|42||D||Drew Bagnall||6′ 3″||220||26|
|25||D||Cam Barker||6′ 3″||215||24|
|8||D||Brent Burns||6′ 5″||219||25|
|41||D||Justin Falk||6′ 5″||215||21|
|55||D||Nick Schultz||6′ 1″||200||28|
|4||D||Clayton Stoner||6′ 3″||225||25|
|5||D||Greg Zanon||5′ 11″||201||30|
|3||D||Marek Zidlicky||5′ 11″||190||33|
|32||G||Niklas Backstrom||6′ 1″||189||32|
|35||G||Anton Khudobin||5′ 11″||203||24|
|G||Jose Theodore||5′ 11″||185||34|
MOST IMPORTANT COG OF 2010: Mikko Koivu (center & captain) — Koivu is the leader on the team just as his brother was for Montreal a decade ago. He can lead by example, and the Minnesota Wild are going to be relying on his leadership to get them to where they want to go — the playoffs. He is a solid two-way center, taking care of business on the back end but is also very clutch when he needs to be on the offensive. If the Wild are down by a goal or tied late in the game, he is often big when he needs to be there with a timely goal or pass to a teammate. He does need to work on his physicality, though. Koivu needs to be tougher out on the ice and show some more aggression in times of need. He has the size — he’s four inches taller than his brother at 6’2” — he just has to use that to his advantage! He isn’t a natural goal-scorer either, serving best as a set-up man. He will have to be the man to drive this team this year.
KEY ACQUISITION: John Madden (C – FA from Chicago) — John Madden does not throw up the point totals that you might expect out of him. What he does do is play outstanding defense, manning a key position on the penalty kill as a shutdown pivot, which is going to be big for the Wild this year. The work ethic makes him very versatile which means that he can play any position that he needs to play to make his team better. He’ll definitely help out the Wild a lot and serve as a key asset to this offense.
KEY DEPARTURE: Derek Boogaard (LW – New York Rangers via free agency) — Derek Boogaard is not your typical left wing. He is a guy that will not care about points. He will not be scoring goals for you; he will not be grabbing assists. His plus-minus rating does not even matter one bit to him. What he is able to do is by physical and intimidate each and every opponent he faces. He is not afraid to drop the gloves and knock someone out or get into it with someone. He is one of the top heavyweights in the NHL currently, and has racked up the penalty minutes because of that. His job on the ice, in his mind, is not to score goals or increase his stat line. His goal is to be an enforcer and knock the crap out of whoever stands in his way. The Wild are going to miss him a lot this season.
KEY YOUNGSTER: Cal Clutterbuck (LW/22 years old) — A third-round draft pick in 2006, Clutterbuck was brought up to the team full time two years ago and immediately earned a spot in the fans’ hearts in Minnesota. The youngster set a new NHL record with 356 hits in his rookie season, obliterating the previous mark of 311 with check after bone-rattling check. He has also managed to score 11 and 13 goals in his first two years, showing he is more than a one-dimensional bruiser. The Wild will count on him to fill an energy role on the third line, helping to neutralize opposing teams’ best forwards and take his chances on the counterattack. Clutterbuck could really come of age this season in the Twin Cities.
OUTLOOK: This year, I see the Minnesota Wild lacking a lot of the grit and toughness that they’re going to need to survive in a tough division. While the team was surely hurt by injuries last season, it was poor defense (their 246 goals allowed were the most given up in a year in the history of a franchise that has consistently stressed defense) that proved their undoing. It’s hard to see a way in which they won’t be in the same boat as last year.
- 37 wins
- 85 points
- 4th in Northwest/13th in Western Conference