Friday, September 8, 2017

Minnesota Wild 2017-18 season preview



                    In 2016-17, the Minnesota Wild were a surprise team, finishing 2nd in the Central division with 106 points. There were led by Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter, who all had surprisingly good seasons. But, the St. Louis Blues knocked them out in round one. There were quick to make a big trade, acquiring Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno from the Sabres for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville. Here's a look at the Wild's full offseason.

                    Notable additions: F Tyler Ennis, F Marcus Foligno, C Matt Cullen, D Kyle Quincey.

                    Notable subtractions: F Jason Pominville, D Marco Scandella, C Eric Haula, C Martin Hanzal, F Jordan Schroeder, F Ryan White, F Tyler Groavac, D Christian Folin, G Darcy Kuemper, F Alex Tuch, D Nate Prosser.

                                      Forwards
Here are the projected forward lines.

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Nino Niederreiter
Eric Staal - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker - Joel Eriksson Ek - Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno - Matt Cullen - Chris Stewart

If Niederreiter and Granlund can produce again, that can be a killer line. That second line is really solid. He may only have 15 career NHL games, but Eriksson Ek can be their third line center this year. Zucker and Ennis are two solid top 9 wingers. The grinder 4th line is solid. Foligno is currently an RFA, but I think he'll sign.

                                    Defensemen
Here are my projected defensive pairs.

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly - Kyle Quincey

That top-4 is really good. Suter is an absolute work-horse on the top pairing. Brodin and Dumba are good, and the Wild gave up a lot to protect them in the expansion draft. Reilly has just 46 games of NHL experience, but can crack the team this year. Quincey was a solid veteran signing for the third pairing.

                                      Goalies
                                       Devan Dubnyk
                                       Alex Stalock
Dubnyk has been a Vezina candidate since being acquired by the Wild a few years ago. Stalock gets the chance to be the backup this year with Darcy Kuemper gone.

                                       Prediction
The Wild are a still a good team. Even with a tough division, I think they'll make the playoffs.

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