Minnesota Wild at a glance
LAST SEASON: 46-28-8, 100 points. Fourth place in Central Division. Lost to Chicago Blackhawks in Western Conference semifinals.
COACH: Mike Yeo (fifth season, 146-107-33).
ADDED: LW Chris Porter, D Mike Reilly.
LOST: C Kyle Brodziak, LW Matt Cooke, RW Chris Stewart, LW Sean Bergenheim, D Jordan Leopold.
PLAYER TO WATCH: LW Thomas Vanek. His debut with the Wild was a disappointment with 21 goals, a career low for a non-lockout season. He didn’t score in 10 playoff games. The 31-year-old Vanek will start on the third line, with rookie Tyler Graovac at center and Charlie Coyle on the other wing. Vanek played through injuries (hernia, groin), frequently found himself with new linemates and attempted fewer shots than ever. Vanek has cited a necessity to create more of his own scoring chances than he was used to with his former teams in the Eastern Conference.
OUTLOOK: The Wild went 28-9-3 over their final 40 games, the best record in the NHL from mid-January through the end of the regular season, and they beat the Central Division champion St. Louis Blues in six games to advance to the second round for the second year in a row. The problem was, and still is, the Blackhawks, who have won three of the last six Stanley Cup titles. With the current division alignment and postseason system, the Wild will likely have to get past the Blackhawks if they ever want to make a deep run in the playoffs. For the Wild to take that next step, Devan Dubnyk will have to up to the task of being the No. 1 goalie for the entire season, stalwart defenseman Ryan Suter needs to bounce back from a down year and somebody beside Zach Parise is going to have to pass the 25-goal mark.