Sports
Home / NHL

NHL - Minnesota Wild 2018-19 season preview, rankings, projections, bold predictions, playoff chances

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-09-29 00:01:23

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios and more.

For the Minnesota Wild, a similar roster to last season's hopes for better results. Here's what to expect from Zach Parise & Co.


How they finished in 2017-18: 45-26-11 (101 points), Finished 9th in NHL, 3rd in Central Division

The Wild were bristling with potential but could never consistently hit stride last season due to a rash of injuries. After a first-round playoff loss -- in which top defenseman Ryan Suter was out because of an ankle injury, a huge blow -- the team parted with GM Chuck Fletcher and hired Paul Fenton, the longtime No. 2 in Nashville.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook): 95.5

Best-case scenario: The Wild play like a Bruce Boudreau team, which means they finish with a points percentage over .600 in the standings and make the playoffs.

Worst-case scenario: It's year seven of the Parise and Suter era (just over halfway through!), and it becomes clear that the team might never win with this core, and needs to make a splash. But first-year GM Fenton was reluctant to shake things up over the summer, and remains conservative as he susses out his new gig; that makes 2018-19 a lost season in Minnesota.

Forward overview: Last season was kept afloat by overachievers, led by Jason Zucker's 33 goals in a contract year and Eric Staal's ridiculous career renaissance of 42 tallies. The Wild would hope for repeats but probably expect some regression. Last season, they certainly wanted more out of Charlie Coyle, who took a step back. Can he get back on track? NHL rank: 15th

Defense overview: The Wild defense sure knows how to produce offense. Three of Minnesota's top 10 point scorers last season were blueliners. That includes Matt Dumba, who had a coming-out season that resulted in a five-year, $30 million contract extension. Overall, it's an well-rounded group with few weak links. NHL rank: 5th

Goalie overview: Devan Dubnyk is 32, with three years left on his contract. While he hasn't been spectacular for the Wild, he has been steady -- and comes fairly cheap (according to CapFriendly, his $4.3 million cap hit is 21st among goaltenders in the league). Alex Stalock is battling Andrew Hammond to keep the backup job. NHL rank: 12th

Special teams: The Wild were slightly above the league average in penalty kill (13th, 81.3 percent) and slightly below in power play (18th, 20.4 percent).

Pipeline overview: The uncertainty surrounding Kirill Kaprizov's future weighs heavily, but he's still a Wild prospect until further notice, and he's one of the best players outside the NHL. Assuming he reports one day, the Wild could have a future star on their hands. Apart from Kaprizov, Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin look like the prospects with the best chance to make an NHL impact in this team's system. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: In the first two months following his return from a back injury, Parise collected nine points. The 34-year-old then went on to score 12 goals and three assists in his final 18 games. Now recovered from a fractured sternum suffered in the postseason, Parise appears healthy enough to pick up where he left off, aside either Mikko Koivu or Staal. He's one of my favorite early sleeper candidates altogether. Read more -- Victoria Matiash

Coach on the hot seat? Boudreau has two years left on his contract. He wasn't Fenton's hire, so the GM probably will see how the season shakes out before making any rash decisions. But it's important to note he doesn't necessarily have emotional ties to the coach.

Bold prediction: It wasn't an aberration. Staal, 33, once again hits 40 goals. "I believed in myself as a player," he told ESPN this summer about his breakout. "I've been a good player in the league, I've been in the league a long time, I've grown up with a lot of guys who are still important players on their team, so I felt like in the right situation with the right guys I'd be able to produce again to the level I'm accustomed to. ... It felt like something I could still do."

Most Popular

Highlights

Top
BACK TO THE TOP
Copyright 2015 - . All rights reserved.
FOLLOW US