StaTuesday: Wild captain Mikko Koivu closing in on major milestones
The veteran center enters Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils with 699 career points after registering two goals and nine assists in 24 games to start the season.
Koivu, 36, passed former teammate Marian Gaborik to become the Wild’s all-time scoring leader five years and 262 points ago, on March 18, 2014. He and Gaborik are the only players to register 400-plus points in a Wild sweater.
Already the longest-tenured player in franchise history, Koivu, who has yet to miss time this season, could play in game No. 1,000 as early as Saturday, when the Wild host the Dallas Stars.
The sixth overall pick in 2001, Koivu was the Wild’s top selection following their first season as a team and their ninth draft pick overall. He arrived a few years later, in 2005, and was named the Wild’s first full-time captain in 2009. He’s worn the “C” ever since.
As it turns out, the Wild were pretty spot on in their assessment: Koivu ranks third in the 2001 class in points and fifth in games played.
He’s still got a little ways to go to catch his older brother, former Montreal and Anaheim center Saku Koivu, drafted in 1993. The elder Koivu, who retired in 2014, ranks fourth all-time amongst Finnish-born skaters with 832 points in 1,124 games.
But while Mikko’s offensive output has slowed in recent years, he continues to deliver on the defensive end. Koivu received Selke Trophy votes — given to the league’s best defensive forward — following 10 of his first 14 seasons.
Koivu leads Minnesota with 19 takeaways this season and is tied for second amongst Wild forwards with 17 blocked shots. He remains one of the Wild’s most reliable faceoff men. Koivu leads the team with 213 faceoff wins, while his 51.7% winning percentage trails only Eric Staal (53.9%).
With his contract up this summer it’s fair to wonder after Koivu’s future in Minnesota, but his spot in Wild history isn’t up for debate.