Hi Wild fans, since it's late, I've decided to do a fan post for you guys to enjoy reading. The season's almost upon us.
The Minnesota Wild begin their 2013-2014 regular season at the Xcel Energy Center this Thursday against Dustin Brown and the Los Angeles Kings. There's a lot of excitement for this season since we've already seen what our young players are capable of.
There's some what ifs with this team heading into this season, things can go wrong where we can throw up our hands and say why did we trade or let go the players we had last season, but if this team plays consistently, we can compete for a Stanley Cup.
The Wild have a lot of exciting young players and storylines that will end up determining the team's success this year. This list will focus specifically on their top players and their youth top players.
Zach Parise is gonna reach his 30+ goal mark, and get 60+ points.
We see clearly that when we signed Parise and Suter last summer, it was clear that Parise was headed into last season with a lot of hype and leadership, and he brought that. Parise emerged as a key top-liner in the Wild's success last season. But failed to have quality chemistry with fellow partner Mikko Koivu. But we saw sparks from the top-line where they can be one of the best top lines in the league.
We always knew the scoring and the talent was there, and it finally seems that since the Wild got a full training camp, and Parise and Koivu has already develop good chemistry during the preseason along with Jason Pominville, the Wild's top-line is ready to emerge to be a very dangerous top-line.
Mikko Koivu will breakout and prove to be a first-line center in the league.
Mikko Koivu last season did seem to feel lost with Parise with the so little chemistry they had. And he completely disappeared in the playoffs where he went -6. But that's gonna change once him and Parise are back together and get quality minutes. He'll have a successful season if he plays 82 games, as the last time he did was 2006-2007. Better average point per game from it being .77 last season. A better showing in the playoffs this year would help to mend some of the damage his reputation took during his meltdown in the Blackhawks series.
Firstly, he has great leadership. It’s impossible to know whether a guy is a good leader or not unless you’re actually working with him on a regular basis. All I know is that Koivu’s intensity and work rate are often spoken about by players and coaches, so that’s something reasonably concrete that points to good leadership. Koivu will be the captain next year and for the foreseeable future. I just want to question why Koivu having the 'C' is a issue.
Jason Pominville gets a contract extension for maybe 2-3 years, and has a wonderful season.
When Pominville came into a trade that send some of our top prospects in Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett, we've seen that he fit in here perfectly by having 9-points in his first 10-games with the Wild until he took an elbow from Brown that pretty much declined the rest of his season.
Well Pominville gets a fresh start this season by playing on the top-line, he's capable of getting 50-70 points, and has proven to be an elite forward in the league. He will provide the Wild with the extra offense that they very badly need. Also, if he gets his new contract sorted out before or during the season, that would be swell.
Dany Heatley gives enough offense to show that he's still an All-Star player.
Since Dany was brought up here in 2011, he has only shown that he isn't the same player that he was, and that he isn't the All-Star like he played in Ottawa. His scoring numbers has been decreasing since he played here with the Wild. Heatley would have almost certainly been subjected to one of the Wild’s compliance buy-outs this summer, if he had not been ineligible due to injury. Getting his mammoth $7’500’000 cap-hit off the books would’ve given the Wild more flexibility in free-agency and allowed the team to keep, useful defenseman, Tom Gilbert.
But now, I think it was good that we've kept him because in training camp, we've seen glimpse and changes where Heatley is showing the player like he was back in Ottawa. He looked stronger, faster, and more involved in scoring plays where he played with Coyle during training camp. Now he can have a good season even playing with Granlund. But he will have a successful year if he can score around 30 goals and prove that he is still a valuable goalscoring threat for any NHL team including the Wild.
Charlie Coyle has a breakout season, and proves to be a gifted 2nd-line center.
Charlie Coyle was called up last season where he proved that he belongs in the NHL by his size, ability to score, and skating ability. He had 14-points in 37-games last season where the fans welcomed him with open arms and proved to be a key factor during last season.
With his large frame, strength on the puck and competitive play, Coyle showed the Wild brass that he could develop into the mythical "power forward" that they have been seeking for a while. At a glance, 14 points seems a little bit low for a guy who spent most of the year with the team’s 2 best forwards of Koivu an Parise, but the reason for this becomes apparent when you see that he only had 50 shots on goal all year.
He had an impressive training camp where he showed mobility, strong skater both on the puck and the ice, and consistency. He has proven that he can play in any position, he has shown promise that he can play in this league, and it's hard seeing him going through a sophomore slump from the breakout preseason he had.
If he can carry on his play for the rest of the season, he'll be a force to reckon with. And during his career he'll be a great all-star power forward.
Mikael Granlund plays better at NHL level and has a better season.
Last year when Granlund was brought up in his rookie season. He was gonna be the player that will breakout and finally save the Wild's offense. Of course that didn't happen. He would lose puck battles, be outmatched, and seemed lost translating to NHL play. But Granlund put his rookie season behind him and has shown promise in training camp that he is a better player than the previous season. But I think that the problem with Granlund was that last year was the lack of consistent linemates, and also a lack of chances to play with high-quality forwards who could drive possession and take some of the pressure off him. Those players for example were: Devin Setoguchi, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Cal Clutterbuck, Mike Rupp, and Torrey Mitchell. I said these players because they did play pretty inconsistent last year, and that could be a reason for Granlund's decline.
In training camp this year, he looks faster, stronger, reliable, and he looks more responsible on both ends of the ice. I was impressed with him and so was Yeo. He can have a breakout year if he finds chemistry with the right linemates and contributes offensively and on the 2nd PP-unit.
Nino Niederrieter changes his scenery and plays a great season.
Niederrieter came in a trade from the New York Islanders that send Clutterbuck packing. He was drafted in 2010, 5th overall. He was brought to save the Islanders organization with his high-end talent to play with Tavares. But did that happen? No. Nino was misused by the Islanders by thinking he can breakout by putting him on the fourth line playing with Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner. Why the heck would you put Nino with those two?. It was clear like Granlund that Nino declined in his rookie season by playing with lack of skilled forwards. He eventually got shoved in the AHL until he demanded a trade that got him here.
Now since he gets a fresh start, he has shown in training camp that he has the tools to be a top-6 forward in the league. Nino is a winger with excellent creativity. Mobile size. Protects the puck well and has great hands. A good finisher who plays with high energy and intensity. During preseason we've seen that he has the right attitude and it seemed to boost the Wild players. His season will be successful if he can have a good season and contribute offensively, making some strides in his development. It doesn't end up being NY Islanders again.
Jason Zucker comes back after from not making the opening night roster and is here to stay.
Last season Zucker was brought up. And he proven to be a good second-line scorer with a physical side. He scored the Game 3 overtime winner against the Hawks. Zucker had a good rookie season and became a fan favorite.
Now he's comes into training camp already looking good until his groin injury that pretty much declined his preseason where he got sent down to Iowa. The reason for that was his defensive play. He looked lazy and lost in the defensive zone where Yeo decided to send him down to work out his D game. Now I love Zucker, but this was a process for him to be sent down to find his game where he can play top-line minutes and see PP time.
He'll come back and he'll become a impact player that will provide secondary scoring, being effective shift-after-shift rather than just in sparks. His speed could be a deadly weapon for the Wild in the future, and he certainly has some goalscoring instincts. He just needs to find a way to impose himself on the game more and be responsible defensively. He'll have a successful season if he isn't sent down regularly, and is here to stay improving his possession and scoring numbers.
In the end, this just looks to be a exciting season where we'll see the young players breakout and our veteran players lead the way from their good preseasons. Of course we're gonna see where it's just isn't our night where we'll have to regroup. But we have a better team with all around players that can play both offensively and defensively. We'll see how this season goes for them that will determine the season.
Thanks for reading Wilderness, and i'll do the Defense later. But i'm sleepy #YAWN
Puck drops Thursday 7:00 pm (CT).