Now that we’ve taken brief glimpses at the other three divisions on the NHL, it’s time to hone in on the Central Division, which features the teams that stand tallest between the Blackhawks and a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Minnesota Wild are the first of our team-by-team stroll through the Central.
Last season: 37-36-9, 83 points, 7th place
Key losses: F Eric Fehr, F Pontus Aberg, D Nate Prosser, D Anthony Bitetto
Key additions: GM Bill Guerin, F Mats Zuccarello, F Ryan Hartman
It all started so well for the Wild last season, too. After a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on the day after Thanksgiving, the Wild owned a 14-7-2 record and appeared destined for a spot in the postseason. Minnesota’s season unraveled from there, though, first with a five-game losing skid around Christmas and then a 1-6-3 stretch through the first half of February.
Injuries didn’t help matters. Center Mikko Koivu missed the last two months with a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, while defenseman Matt Dumba tore a pectoral muscle in mid-December, ending his season prematurely.
Trade deadline moves last February sent away forwards Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter, while bringing back forwards Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala and Victor Rask. In the offseason, the Wild signed Zuccarello and Hartman on the first day of free agency then fired GM Paul Fenton in late July and hired Guerin as the team’s new GM in August.
Minnesota still has a deep blue line with Dumba, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin all back. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is back in net, looking to rebound after his numbers took a mild dip in 2018-19. But the biggest question for the Wild remains on offense, where the Wild must improve upon their 211 goals scored (28th in the league).