Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wild Reduce to 27

The Wild are coming into the 2010 season with a new philosophy, new coaching staff and a few new key faces. It's not going to be the original Wild team that we've all come to know. The Wild will be looking to take all these new elements and make it into a winning season. In the Northwest Division, it will be easier said than done though. Martin Havlat and Petr Sykora have their work cut out for them, if they are to lead the Wild through this tough transition period.

Martin HavlatMarek ZidlickyNiklas Backstrom
Mikko KoivuBrent BurnsJosh Harding
Andrew BrunetteKim Johnsson
Petr SykoraShane Hnidy
Pierre-Marc BouchardGreg Zanon
Owen NolanNick Schultz
Antti MiettinenJamie Sifers
Eric BelangerJohn Scott
Kyle BrodziakBjorn Krupp
James Sheppard

Cal Clutterbuck

Benoit Pouliot

Colton Gillies

Craig Weller

Derek Boogaard

Nathan Smith

The Wild will have to rely on their pre-existing players to show the new players the ropes in the division. Brent Burns (pictured) is returning from a concussion and will help lead the solid defense, which also includes Marek Zidlicky, Kim Johnsson and Nick Schultz. These five will have the job of keeping as many pucks away from the net in front of Niklas Backstrom, who will get the starting job in Minnesota this year. Shane Hnidy and Greg Zanon will be fighting for the last top six job or they'll platoon it. They will be in great need for that good defense, if they want to succeed this year.

Salary CapThe Wild are in great shape when it comes to the salary cap, as they are only a touch over the cap ceiling limit with a few cuts left to be made. Once those last cuts, likely two forwards and two defensemen, are made, the team will be good to go. The new management has done a pretty good job, replacing Marian Gaborik with Martin Havlat and keeping the overall costs at a reasonable level. It's hard to believe that they'll be in playoff shape this year, so they likely won't be buying too much, but they could sellers, with a number of UFAs to hit the market next Summer.

I'm not sure how the team is going to score under their new coaching regime. In the preseason, the Wild have only scored 11 goals in 6 games, which is below 2 per game. That isn't a great average to be taking into the regular season, so their defense will have to be on its toes. Besides Havlat, Koivu and possibly Sykora, the Wild may be a bit of a wild card when it comes to scoring. I'm unsure how it's all going to play out, but I'm not terribly confident.

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