Skip to main content

See also:

2014-2015 NHL preview: Minnesota Wild

Thomas Vanek has been many things, and now he is a Wild.
Thomas Vanek has been many things, and now he is a Wild.
Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild got themselves some payoff last year from their big free agent deals they doled out in the not too distant past. They returned to the playoffs, despite major league questions in net, and then they even upset the Colorado Avalanche in the first round. They then gave the Chicago Blackhawks a bit of a spooking, but they don't want this to be their ceiling, I imagine. Can they build on last year?

This is definitely a veteran team, guys like Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund aside. Also, of course, Jonas Brodin on defense, arguably their best young player. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are the big names, and both are very talented. They have Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu. Also, now they have Thomas Vanek. Vanek is a legit goal scorer, and I am not too worried about his minor struggles in Montreal in the playoffs. He adds some real goal scoring depth, which this team needed.

What this team needs, and doesn't have, is an answer in net. Last year, they ran through a million goalies. Who is the answer this year? Josh Harding's health issues are both disheartening and concerning. Niklas Backstrom is a million years old and not very good. Can they go to Darcy Kuemper? How can a playoff team do that? Can a playoff team do that? Or will this be the thing that knocks them out of a postseason spot?

I could definitely see that happening. If any playoff team from the West last season is going to miss out, it's Minnesota. The goaltending is a real issue, but I do think the offense and defense are good. They are a bubble team. That's not quite what you want when you dish out big money to veterans.