"It'll be a motivated, more experienced group that comes to camp next season."
That was said by Chuck Fletcher last Saturday after the draft had completed. As Michael Russo of the Star Tribune has reported, the Wild will likely make minor depth moves in free agency this season rather than making a splashy signing. This is, of course, all contingent on a major salary clearing trade taking place. It means the Wild are going to return a team identical to that of last season.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing either.
Sure, after the season was ended abruptly and in the most foul of ways at the hands of the Blackhawks in four games. There was a ton of hand wringing and calls for big changes for next season. The obstacles of actually making those changes has been hashed over multiple times and in multiple ways. Explaining the cap and No-Move and No-Trade clauses, contract buy-outs, and every other scenario until we're blue in the face can only go so far.
Yet, we knew, even when the Wild went for broke and signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter three seasons ago, that the future of the franchise hinged on the growth and development of the youth on the team. That notion has not changed today, even with a mix of other veterans in the line up.
The Wild still have a lot of talent that needs to be realized. A lot of it needs to be put in a better position to succeed, and thus can take the pressure off the veterans to better help their games. But when you look back at the season that was 2014-15. the Wild did a lot of things right.
Minnesota was 13th in the league in 5v5 raw shot attempts 5-on-5. The Wild were top 10 in the league in unblocked shot attempt percentage, meaning they controlled the play among the best in the league. They were ninth in the league in goal differential with a +19, just behind the Winnipeg Jets and the Blackhawks, and better than the Penguins and Islanders. This team is top 6 in scoring chances against, meaning that the team isn't giving up much to the other team. This team last season scored the most goals than any other team in franchise history.
The Wild are trending upwards while instituting a puck possession style the last season and a half. This team still has a lot of growing to do. The power play could help make things easier for them in games, but the 5-on-5 numbers are promising.
All stats and rankings are 5v5, all situations, and are courtesy of War-on-ice.com