NHL 2017 Season: Minnesota Wild Pre-Season Overview
Minnesota Wild enjoyed a better than average 2016 – 17 season, making it to the playoffs, coming 2nd in the Central Division, and 2nd in the Western conference. Their 49 – 25 – 8 record was a reflection of their hard work throughout the season, and they had some strong goal and points scorers, like Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund. They showed plenty of early season promise, but seemed to slow down towards the end of the season. Even so, fans will be relatively happy with what the team achieved. This season, the team looks to come back and perform at least on par with last season, and a playoff spot wouldn’t be out of the question. Let’s take a look at what changes they’ve made, and the players that could help them in their 2017 – 18 season campaign.
Players Who Have Left the Team Ahead of the Season
Before we get into the key new acquisitions, it’s important to take a look at who has left Minnesota this year. Forward, Erik Haula, was one of the first names to be announced as leaving the team. Haula didn’t have a consistent season in 2016 – 17, which means that it’s hard to gauge how much his loss will be felt. His inconsistency made him unpredictable, and that meant that he wasn’t always the asset that the team needed him to be. However, Haula is an up and comer, and he hadn’t finished developing last season. The general consensus among the experts is that he can only get better from here, and watching him play for the Las Vegas Golden Knights will be able to tell us whether Minnesota Wild made the right decision. Jason Pominville is another prominent player who has left the Minnesota Wild. He’s an older player and some would say that he’s no longer at his best. However, he’s a natural leader and he can provide consistent performance while also being a mentor for younger players. With the loss of Pominville the team loses one of their most experienced players, but they should be able to offset this with the acquisitions that they have made. To single out the single most important departure for the team, it would have to be Marco Scandella. The Wild let Scandella go as part of a trade deal, and his loss will definitely be felt on the blue line. The defense in the Minnesota Wild has remained consistent for a number of years, with a few tenured key players. Losing Scandella means that we don’t have a complete idea of how good the defense will be in 2017 – 18. Even with the losses, there are some talented players waiting to make an impact on the ice. Joel Eriksson is a young player who could be ready to start playing regularly in the forwards, and Gustav Olofsson could turn out to be a capable replacement for Scandella. If anything, It’s going to be quite interesting to see how the new generation of players can step up, now that the Wild has lost some of their longstanding talent.
Key Acquisitions for Minnesota Wild in 2017
Coaches and fans will be hoping that the new additions to the team can justify the players that have left. When looking at a player like Tyler Ennis, there’s a strong case for the trades/new signings making the team stronger overall. Tyler Ennis has not quite peaked in his career, and is now aiming upwards after recovering from recent injuries. When talking about his move to the team, Ennis told media “Before my injuries, I was scoring 20 a year. So my goal is to get back on that path. If I play a healthy season, there’s no reason I can’t do that again, especially on this team, especially with this lineup. It’s nice to be on a team where the mind-set is to win every single night. Coming from an organization that was kind of in rebuild to a team whose goal is to win the Stanley Cup is a pretty special feeling. ”Ennis’ move to the team will mean that he’s reunited with his close childhood friend, Jared Spurgeon. While Ennis will likely end up on the wing, Sturgeon plays on the defensive line. Ennis came to the team on the back of a trade, and Marcus Foligno will also be joining him. When it comes down to the technical stats, Foligno looks to be equal to Ennis. The only stat where he’s lacking is in terms of the goals scored. Also, like Ennis, Foligno has suffered from injuries in recent seasons. These two forwards could add a lot of power and depth to the team, but it’s important that they stay healthy enough to make their presence worthwhile. If they don’t work out, then it’s going to make the loss of Marco Scandella even more painful.
How Far Will the Team Go in 2017?
The playoffs are obviously the target, but can they make it there? The Minnesota Wild don’t just have Ennis and Foligno as new players. They also gain Matt Cullen for the forwards, and Kyle Quincey on the defense. Trading for a couple of younger forwards could pay off well for the team, particularly as they want to be able to maintain momentum throughout the season, which is something that they couldn’t manage in their last playoffs appearance. The team looks in good shape to win the Division, and there’s a good chance that they could make it to the second round of the playoffs. Of course, this is hockey, and anything could change once the regular season begins. At this stage we can see that the Minesotta Wild is at least as strong as last year, and that’s not a bad position to be in.