Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2018 Pool Projections: Minnesota

The strength of the Minnesota Wild is certainly their balance.  They have been able to find a reasonable balance on offense, find a balance of ice-time on defense and their number one goalie, Devan Dubnyk, plays a lot, but not too much.

With that kind of balance, the movement of players doesn't have to be terribly drastic, in or out.  The moves made in the off-season were somewhat necessary, given the salary cap constraints, but they were also very calculate and they should fit into the mould that the team set out for itself.

The Wild will welcome some new faces, like Tyler Ennis and Kyle Quincey to the everyday mix, hopefully get some good returns from some prospects and some quality ice-time from some of that cheaper depth.

The outs may look a little bit stronger than the ins, when you really sit down and look at it, but it will all be about that balance and if the Wild can find that balance with the new faces in their lineup, possibly finding the returns from that balance increasing, they should have themselves another strong season.

Player Pos 17/18 Proj Rookie
Devan Dubnyk G 100 N
Mikael Granlund F 65 N
Zach Parise F 55 N
Mikko Koivu F 55 N
Nino Niederreiter F 55 N
Eric Staal F 55 N
Charlie Coyle F 50 N
Joel Eriksson Ek F 45 Y
Ryan Suter D 45 N
Jason Zucker F 40 N
Jared Spurgeon D 35 N
Matt Dumba D 35 N
Tyler Ennis F 30 N
Jonas Brodin D 25 N
Chris Stewart F 20 N
Luke Kunin F 20 Y
Kyle Quincey D 15 N
Ryan Murphy D 15 N
Alex Stalock G 15 N
Mike Reilly D 10 N
Landon Ferraro F 5 N
Christoph Bertschy F 5 Y
Cal O'Reilly F 5 N

Table last updated on August 13th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Watching a kid like Joel Eriksson Ek excel at the junior level on the world stage was pretty exciting.  He certainly isn't the biggest guy on the ice, but he doesn't really have to be, given the talent level that he's working with.

The kid had a couple of showings in the 2017 season, getting some time in the first and the last months of the regular season and posting some okay numbers, 3 goals and 7 points in 15 games.  With another summer under his belt, this 20-year old has some real upside to his game and it could very well keep him in the thick of the Calder Trophy race.

The Wild have a good number of players that could possibly line up with Eriksson Ek, so he is certainly one of those players I am going to be keeping an eye out for, hopefully a little later to make him a better bargain pick.

First Round Picks

There's no denying the transformation of Devan Dubnyk is pretty well complete.  A 40-win, 90-point season was huge for him and the Wild last year and I think the Wild have been able to add some key pieces that could even bump his totals up a little bit more.  Dubnyk is going to be a top pick for someone this season, easily in the top five, if I had my way.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Wild are going to have a very balanced attack this season, which will keep them dangerous, night in and night out.  Mikael Granlund has stepped up to help lead this team and he could very well hit the 30-goal mark this coming season.  Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker all promise to contribute in the coming season, some looking to stay consistent, some looking to bounce back from a tough year.  Either way, these guys have lots of options.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

The defense had a little bit of a retooling in this off-season, but a lot of the big players have remained.  Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin will make up their top four, a very well-rounded four, to say the least.  The Wild have also added a couple more key pieces to round out their six, both capable of putting up some pool worthy numbers, but they may not have the minutes for it.  Kyle Quincey and Ryan Murphy could be pretty good additions.

Goaltending Situation

Of course, with those big minute goalies, the back-ups don't tend to be good pool options that will be much of the same in Minnesota.  Alex Stalock appears to have the lead for the job of back-up to Dubnyk, but I wouldn't expect very much there.

Team To Pick From Late?

There are a few names that could surprise and move up the ranks, like newcomer Tyler Ennis, rookie Luke Kunin could make head way with a full-time job or Chris Stewart might find his way back to being relevant in the pool.  There are options, for sure.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The Wild have one more key free agent that they could add to the mix of their regular roster and that's forward Marcus Foligno.  Foligno's rights were acquired from the Sabres in this off-season and the Wild are still trying to work on getting him into the fold for training camp.  He could be a strong addition, when he's signed.

With less than $1.7 million left in unused space, trying to sign Foligno is somewhat difficult, as the 26-year old may want to dip into his unrestricted free agent years with a new deal and that might cost the Wild some bigger dollars than they have left.


The Wild had a few injuries to key players through the playoffs, but all of three players should be fine and ready to go for puck drop. Both Mikael Granlund and Matt Dumba had hand injuries, while Jason Zucker had surgery to fix a sports hernia.

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