There's 27 days until Preseason hockey, and Regular season hockey is just around the corner. With the Wild's busy Off-season, the Wild's Veteran and Youth Players will be ready to play big minutes. They're ready to contribute to the team. And Hopefully we'll get to see Playoff action once again but with better offensive contribution and defensive contribution, and with healthy depth in the back end.
Heading into sophomore seasons. Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Niederreiter are ready to make an impact on the Wild's offense, while Wild's Jonas Brodin is ready to impact the blue-line once again along with his D partner Ryan Suter.
It's no question that Yeo will start off the season with Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Pominville on the top line this season. All of them provide great leadership both on and off the ice, and could help impact our youth forwards. Zach Parise is the Assistant captain playing alongside Captain Mikko Koivu of the Wild. Jason Pominville doesn't have an "A" on his sweater, but, you don't have to have an "A" to be a leader on the team. Part of that leadership will come by example: going hard to the net, playing in the dirty areas and getting back on defense. The second half will be in the locker room, whether it’s offering advice to a slumping player, providing advice about the technical aspects of the game or speaking up when something has to be said. Even though the Wild lost Matt Cullen during Free Agency, the Wild still have plenty of veteran leaders besides Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Pominville that can help with the team's success like Dany Heatley, Ryan Suter, Keith Ballard, Kyle Brodziak, and yes wild fans i'm including Matt Cooke even though he has a reputation as a dirty player. But Cooke does provide leadership on offense, and brings attitude that the Wild most desperately needs.
The second Alternate captain is Ryan Suter, who will play big minutes with Jonas Brodin, a 20-year-old that played like a veteran last season. Along with Keith Ballard, a Minnesota native who knows how to throw an incredible hip check, Suter along with Ballard will lead a very young defensive corps. The three other main contributors Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon, are all in their 20s, and while they have played exceptionally well to this point, they are more prone to lapses than the seasoned veterans (if that happens with Brodin, let's hope not). For the most part, I expect them all to be successful, but there might be a point in the season where all of them, yes,even Brodin, may hit a rough patch that any developing player goes through.
The key for the Minnesota Wild this year is how this season will handle the youth. The balance between giving enough ice time to learn and not so much that a player gets overexposed is crucial. If they are able to do that and the goaltenders stay healthy, the Wild should be in for a great year in 2013-14. If it is,will it be the year of the Stanley Cup? You tell me.