To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: Minnesota Wild
2014-15 record: 46-28-8, 4th in the Central
How they finished: Lost in 4 games to Chicago in the Western Conference Semifinals
Coach: Mike Yeo (5th season)
Notable additions: None
Notable subtractions: C Kyle Brodziak
Schedule against the Capitals: Thu. Feb. 11 at Minnesota, Fri. Feb. 26 at Washington
Outlook: The Wild had a very quiet offseason with re-signing goalie Devan Dubnyk to a long-term deal their main focus. They did that, but little else. That's an interesting strategy for a team that got swept in the playoffs, even though it came at the hands of the eventual Cup champions.
Minnesota will be depending on its young pieces to take on a larger role on both ends of the ice. Mikael Granlund will likely center the top line and Jason Zucker will play on the second. Zach Parise and Jason Pominville are still in their early 30s so there should not be much of a drop off yet in terms of their production and even if there is, Granlund and Zucker should be able to make up for that.
Defensively, the Wild are very young. Minnesota will rely on five defensemen who are 25 or younger this season with Jonas Brodin (22), Marco Scandella (25), Matt Dumba (21), Mike Reilly (22) and Jared Spurgeon (25). If the team struggles defensively early on, don't be surprised to see a mid-season trade for a veteran defenseman.
But let's be real, Minnesota's season rides on the shoulders of Dubnyk. The Wild looked like they were going nowhere last season and everyone was waiting for Mike Yeo to get the ax, but eerything turned around once the team traded for Dubnyk.
Dubnyk set the NHL on fire last season, posting a .936 save percentage and 1.78 GAA. Those numbers were not nearly as good in the playoffs where he managed only a .908 percentage and 2.53 GAA. This begs the question, just how good is he really? The fate of the Wild rests on the answer to that question.
Expectations: Dubnyk certainly would not be the first goalie to disappear after a breakout season and if that happens, it will be a lost season for Minnesota. The problem is that It would be unreasonable to expect Dubnyk to replicate the numbers he had last year. If that's what it will take to get the Wild back into the playoffs, they're in trouble. He's going to have to be really good, but can he be good enough?
Minnesota is on the right track, but their young players need another year or two before this team can really become competitive. I look for the Wild to take a step back this year and, given that they were a wild card team last season, that means no playoffs in Minneapolis.
See more team previews:
Boston Bruins 8/15
Buffalo Sabres 8/16
Detroit Red Wings 8/17
Florida Panthers 8/18
Montreal Canadiens 8/19
Ottawa Senators 8/20
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24
New Jersey Devils 8/25
New York Islanders 8/26
New York Rangers 8/27
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29
Washington Capitals 8/30