Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 Minnesota Wild Season Review

After barely squeezing into the 8th and final playoff spot, the Minnesota Wild were easily rolled over by the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks. Nice that they made the playoffs, but their late season malaise ensured that they meet a virtually unbeatable opponent in the 1st round. There was much speculation in the media throughout the season that head coach Mike Yeo's job could be in jeopardy, but he proved to be a survivor that got the wins the team needed to make the playoffs. He is one of the top young coaches in the game, so he would not be unemployed very long if he were to be let go.

There is no question that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were instrumental pieces to getting this team into the playoffs for the first time in a long time, unfortunately the rest of the roster wasn't good enough to make them a legit contender. Ryan Suter spent more time on the ice than any other player in the NHL in 2013 (playoffs not included). He was nominated for the Norris Trophy, and a strong case could be made that he deserved the award over PK Subban (former teammate and nominee Shea Weber was not nominated this season). We'll see how well he can sustain this kind of workload over the duration of his 13 year contract. That kind of workload can run an athlete into an early grave.

Of their young rookies, Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin played quite well (certainly above expectations), while the rookie with the highest expectations Mikael Granlund was considered a major disappointment. Clearly there are brighter days ahead for the Wild, and if their youth develops as expected, they could soon be a very tough team to beat.

Preseason Rank: 18
Midseason Rank: 23
Final Rank: 17
GM Grade: C+

1st Star: Zach Parise
2nd Star: Ryan Suter
3rd Star: Mikko Koivu

UFAs: PM Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Brett Clark, Niklas Backstrom
RFAs: Jared Spurgeon, Justin Falk, Cal Clutterbuck, Carson McMillan

Best Contract: PK Subban 1 more year at $2.9M
Worst Contract: Mikko Koivu 5 more years at $6.75M

What I said about them in preseason: I'm not convinced that they make the playoffs, but they are a better team than last season. They have some very obstructive long term contracts, but a talented line-up with a solid coaching staff. Their blueline is just too green. Suter is only one man. They'd need to clone an army or Suters.


It is difficult to judge what moves the General Manager will make this summer, and whether or not he is ordered to slash the operating budget. They were all excited to get Parise and Suter in the offseason, but now those contracts are haunting them like a giant albatross. Danny Heatley was not as good as advertised and should be a viable buyout candidate, whether or not he is remains to be seen. They are already close to the cap for next season and need a starting goalie. If Niklas Backstrom walks, the Wild could have some serious problems between the pipes next season.

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