The 2017-18 NHL season has concluded and the Stanley Cup playoffs are well underway. While 15 teams are enjoying beautiful weather on the beach and pondering their failures of the season, 16 teams are in the midst of desperate battles for the chance to lift the Stanley Cup. While the Minnesota Wild are playing the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round, let’s take a look back at the regular season and how the key players (who are under contract for at least one more season) in Minnesota climbed their franchises rankings in all-time stats.
The Wild’s first permanent captain in franchise history, Mikko Koivu will always have a special place in the hearts of Wild fans. Even the fans who criticize him now will look back once he’s retired (with his jersey hanging in the rafters) and realize what a player they got to watch for so many years.
Koivu appeared in all 82 games this season for only the third time in his NHL career (2006-07 and 2015-16 seasons). He finished the season with 14 goals, 31 assists, 45 points, and a plus-9. He has had a worse point outlook only four times in his career, never playing more than 64 games in those seasons. On the season he took 170 shots with 11 even strength goals and 3 on the power play.
In total, Koivu strengthened his hold on many Wild all-time records. He is first in games played (925), second in goals (193), first in assists (466), first in points (659), first in plus/minus (plus-70), second in even-strength goals (126), second in power-play goals (57), and first in shots (2107). Not bad for one of the most criticized players on the Wild.
It’s no secret that Zach Parise missed just under half of the regular season after he had back surgery. He played in the least amount of games since the 2010-11 season with the New Jersey Devils, where he was limited to just 13 games. He never used the injury as an excuse and when the games mattered most, Parise delivered with a huge scoring outburst. He finished the season playing in 42 games with 15 goals, 9 assists, and 119 shots. A total of 13 goals were during even strength play and two were scored on the power play.
Parise has only been on the Wild for six seasons and is already one of the franchise’s all-time greats. He now ranks third in goals (139), eight in assists (136), fifth in points (275), third in even-strength goals (91), fourth in power-play goals (47), and third in shots (1233). He was a driving factor in the Wild clinching their sixth straight playoff appearance this season and, as indicated by his numbers, the past five as well.
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Eric Staal had a major comeback season during the 2016-17 campaign, he followed it up with an even better performance. His three year, $10.5 million contract is one of the best deals in hockey. The major story this season with Staal is that he scored 42 goals which ties the franchise record with Marian Gaborik. This was the eighth season in which Staal played in 82 games or more (2015-16 he played in 83 regular season games) and was tied for his fourth-highest point total in his career. His play even earned him a roster spot in the 2018 All-Star game.
Staal doesn’t rank among the franchise leaders after two seasons but could sneak in if he can repeat the success of his first two years in Minnesota. His 2017-18 campaign resulted in moving to the top ten in many statistics for the Wild franchise. Staal ranks tied for first in goals (42), third in points (76), second in even-strength goals (29), tied for seventh in power-play goals (11), tied for ninth in short-handed goals (2), and tied for fifth in hat-tricks (1). He had a dominating season in the eyes of Wild fans and was a treat to watch.
Prior to Ryan Suter’s devastating injury that took him out for the final four regular season games and the postseason, he was pacing some serious records. He already finished with the greatest season in points for a defenseman in Wild history. He finished the campaign with six goals, 45 assists, and a minus-1. His 45 assists on the season rank him tied for number six in franchise history, while also being the most ever for a defenseman.
In total, Suter now ranks eighth all-time in games played (449), tied for third in assists (218), seventh in points (255), and second in plus/minus (plus-67). It would have been interesting to see how far the veteran defenseman could have climbed had he not been injured. He is already missed in the playoffs.
Mikael Granlund has come a long way since his first couple of seasons. He was undersized and got pushed around a lot (he still does) but his production has completely changed. His point totals have increased significantly, his defensive awareness has improved a ton, and now he can finally score with some consistency after back-to-back 20-goal seasons. He ended the year with 21 goals, 46 assists, and a plus-13. His assist total ranks fifth best in a season and his 67 points are tied for the seventh in franchise history.
Granlund now ranks high in many statistical categories for Minnesota. He is sixth all-time in assists (190), sixth in points (268), eighth in plus/minus (plus-34), tied for tenth in power-play goals (18), tied for sixth in short handed goals (5), and tied for third in hat-tricks (2). It is great to see someone of Granlund’s skill level pan out after a couple of disappointing seasons to start his NHL career. His passing skills rival vintage Koivu, but Granlund has a much better shot than his teammate ever had.
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Devan Dubnyk is the key to the Wild’s success now. He can be one of the most dominant goaltenders in the NHL on his best nights, but can also let in soft goals and give up easy rebounds. Goaltenders don’t have an easy job though and Dubnyk catches more heat than he deserves most of the time. He’s only been in Minnesota for four seasons and has already done so much. Not many goaltenders can save a season and proceed to make the playoffs the next three years after. Wild fans have been spoiled with solid goaltending year after year since the inception of the franchise, leading to more harsh criticism.
The 2017-18 campaign for Dubnyk was one of the strongest goaltending seasons in franchise history. He doesn’t rank high because he already had three stellar campaigns prior to pad the record books. He finished the year tied for fourth in games played (60), third in wins (35), fourth in saves (1624), tied for second in shutouts (5), and fifth in minutes played (3450). It wasn’t a record-breaking season by any means, but Dubnyk piled up respectable numbers with injuries wiping out much of the roster for various increments of the season.
His career numbers in Minnesota soared with the completion of the 2017-18 season. Dubnyk ranks third in games played (231), second in wins (134), third in saves (6000), first in save percentage (SV%, .922), first in goals-against average (GAA, 2.26), second in shutouts (20), and third in minutes (13362). With three more seasons remaining on his contract, there is reason to believe that he will continue to climb and most likely finish as the Wild’s greatest goaltender of all time.