Looking forward to next season: Special teams

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

For my first official article with Hockey Wilderness, we'll be talking about some of the biggest challenges the Wild will have to face next season, starting with the power play and penalty kill.

In this article, we'll be talking about some of the biggest challenges the Wild will have to face next season. Let's start with the power play and penalty kill.

It’s clear that they have some serious lack of chemistry on the power play right now. The Minnesota Wild had the worst PP in the playoffs with a 0.0% effectiveness. To be fair, the Blackhawks had one of the best PK units in the NHL at 87.2% efficiency but the PP wasn’t that great during the regular season either.

During the regular season, the Wild had a PP with 17.9% effectiveness, which resulted the 16th best PP. When you look at the pp%, that gives the Wild the 2nd best in their new conference. The Blues, with a 19.5% would have lead Conference III this season, followed by the Wild, and then Nashville close behind with 17.1%.

Dallas would have been right on Nashville’s heels with at 17% PP, and Chicago had a 16.7% PP. Colorado had a pretty rough 15% PP and the Jets would have rounded out the division with a dismal 13.8% PP, which was the worst in the league this season.

It would seem that the Wild have a decent PP when comparing to the teams that they will be playing the most next season. However, when looking at the PK for these teams, it becomes pretty clear that the Wild are going to have their hands full.

Chicago has one of the best PKs in the league. This post season alone they have the best PK by over 3%. The regular season saw the Hawks post a 87.2% PK, with St. Louis not far behind at 84.7%.

Dallas and the Wild were neck and neck for average, sitting at 17th and 18th in the league with PKs that posted 81.0% and 80.7%. Colorado wasn’t far behind with a PK of 80.3%, Winnipeg had a 79.7% PK, and Nashville scraped the bottom of league with at 75.5% kill rate (better than only Florida).

The moral of this is that the Wild are going to face some pretty tough penalty killers next season. In order to be successful, they are going to have to adjust their power play and get pucks into the net. The easiest way to do that? Try some new people on the PP unit.

Personally, I’d like to see Jonas Brodin on the PP more often. He was on a unit during the playoffs, but he didn’t get much time on it during the regular season. My first unit would be Zach Parise Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund with Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin. That’d make a pretty nice fivefold.

Why Granlund? I’m still hoping he can find some chemistry with Koivu and I’ve always thought he looked better on the wing side.

My second unit would be Jason Zucker - Matt Cullen (if re-signed) - Charlie Coyle/Devin Setoguchi with Tom Gilbert - Marco Scandella (assuming he’s in the lineup at the start of the season). Marco looked good in his last stint so why not trying him on the PP? It’s worth a shot.

Depending on what Chuck Fletcher does with Dany Heatley over the summer, he should be worked in as well. It was no coincidence that the PP got worse once Heatley got hurt in San Jose. The puck movement didn’t look as good without him. It’s probably crazy to think that one player can make such a difference but it seemed to be the case.

Whether it’s the suggestions made here, or ones we haven’t even thought of yet, hopefully Mike Yeo and the rest of his staff will bring the necessary corrections for the upcoming seasons. If you were in the coach’s chair, what changes would you make to the special team units?

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