The Minnesota Wild finished fourth in the Central Division with 98 points and made the playoffs for the second consecutive year. After defeating the Colorado Avalanche in a thrilling 7 game series, the Wild took on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild were ousted by the Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games. In 2014 the Wild played much better against the Blackhawks but ultimately fell short losing in six games to the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were too much for the Wild. The Wild must now re-tool this offseason in hopes of overcoming the Blackhawks next season.
One plus for the Wild is their cap space. The Wild have the MOST cap space and will be looking to add to their stars of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune has been keeping a close eye on Wild and wrote a nice piece on their offseason plans. It had been speculated that Thomas Vanek was a given to sign with the Wild this offseason. The playoffs might have soured the Wild on Vanek. Russo stated that Vanek is not a sure thing to the Wild anymore. Vanek had put up good regular season numbers despite being traded twice. Vanek had 27 goals and 41 assists in 78 games. The Wild were thinking if they add Vanek’s scoring with Parise (29 goals and 27 assists), Jason Pominville (30 goals and 30 assists), and Mikko Koivu (11 goals and 43 assists), they could compete with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp.
Russo and many others believe that Vanek’s poor play (5 goals and 5 assists) hurt his chances on the Wild will signing him. Russo also believes that Wild Fans are wasting their time thinking Paul Statsny and Marian Gaborik will sign with the Wild. Russo and I believe they will stay put and not go anywhere.
If the Wild don’t sign Vanek, who could they possibly sign? A name floated around is Matt Niskanen. Niskanen is a Minnesota boy and a talent. If he doesn’t re-sign in Pittsburgh, maybe he returns home like Suter and Parise.
I fully expect the Wild to invest in another offensive threat. They tried adding more offense before the playoffs in Matt Moulson. Moulson however did not pan out and will be gone next season. The underachieving Dany Heatltey will be gone also. The Wild could be sneaky and sign another Penguins player, Jussi Jokienen. Jokienen had 21 goals and 36 assist last season. Those numbers could be inflated by playing with Sidney Crosby, but he did have big seasons in Carolina previously. In 2011-12, he had 34 goals and 46 assists with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Blackhawks fans should expect the Wild to be players in free agency and contenders in the Central Division.
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