In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Sixth up are the Minnesota Wild who are in their 19th year as a team. They missed the playoffs last season for the first time in seven seasons.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 21st
- Goals for Rank: 27th
- Goals against Rank: 12th
- PP Rank: 14th
- PK Rank: 7th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 26th
- Western Conference Standings: 12th
- Central Division Standings: 7th
- Coach: Bruce Boudreau (entering 4th season with Minnesota, 37-36-9 regular season; 2-8 playoffs; career 540-279-108 regular season 43-47 playoffs)
On offense, the Wild are one team that is largely still up in the air. They have just 12 forwards signed right now among those, are their scorers such as Zach Parise (35 years old), Eric Staal (34 years old) and Mikael Granlund (gone). Jason Zucker might be asked to carry more of the load and revert to the 60+ points he had the previous season. Mats Zuccarello is a fresh face to the team but he had a considerable down year scoring 39 points last season as an upper body injury limited him to about half a season. Mats will need to play a big role for the team this year as will Ryan Donato who I think could be one player poised to make a big step up in his career. Ryan Hartman, the 30th overall draft pick in 2013 joined the team after scoring 26 points in a full season of games last season, highly touted, he has yet to show the production some have expected from him. Beyond that there are RFAs who might be traded and other moves yet to be made.
Defensively the team is still strong, Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter both had over 40 points including 10+ power play points, 75+ hits and 100+ blocked shots. The team was top 10 in blocked shots and allowed the sixth fewest shots against their goal last year. Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba round out the top four defensemen and they are an excellent combination with Dumba scoring 12 goals and Brodin yielding 135 blocked shots giving them an offense/defense combo.
In net it appears the Devan Dubnyk of 2016-2017 season was a one-time thing. He’s not terrible, he’s just average. Last year his 2.54 GAA (14th in NHL) and .913 sv% (21st in NHL) are about exactly what you can expect from him. He played in 67 games which bucked the three consecutive years of him starting a few less games each season. Alex Stalock started 21 games behind Dubnyk but he does not appear to be ready for full time yet with 2.99 GAA and a .899 Sv% last season going 6-8-3. The collective defense and goalie combination hold strong for the Wild and often keep them in games.
Behind the bench, I have always trusted in Bruce Boudreau, when it comes to regular seasons, he is 2nd only to Jon Cooper among active coaches regular season winning percentage. With that said, defense has always been his strength and it appears strong here again but I struggle to find the necessary offense on this squad.
- Mats Zuccarello
- Ryan Donato
- Mikael Granlund
- Charlie Coyle
Prospects and Picks
Matthew Boldy – The 12th overall pick in the draft this year, Matthew has certainly shown a propensity for scoring. Time with the U-18 team netted 43 points in 23 games and his time with Jack Hughes was a fun thing to behold. His size and poise helped him bring a gold medal to the US team and I don’t think much is going to hold him back on his path to the NHL.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Ryan Donato – Fresh off his first full season, Ryan was dealt half way through the year from Boston to Minnesota (for Charlie Coyle). He made the most of his time with the Wild scoring 16 points in 22 games including 5 power play points. In my eyes he should be a top six forward for them and could be among their breakout stars if he can get those types of minutes netting 45+points. In his time in the NCAA he put up 40+ points in 40 or fewer games in two seasons with Harvard and furthermore he put up respectable points with the Providence Bruins and Iowa Wild in the AHL. With all of his moving around last year, I can only imagine how well he does once he can settle down with the same team for a prolonged period of time.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$72MM Spent; $9.4M in Cap room; 19 players signed.
Do the Wild become a top 20 team in scoring this year?
This poll is closed