After the 2008-09 season, the Minnesota Wild finished with a 40-33-9 record. The Wild would finish two points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and miss the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This would begin a four-year run where the Wild missed the playoffs.
This was the final year of head coach Jacques Lemaire’s eight-year (2000-09) career in Minnesota. General Manager Doug Risebrough was fired during the summer of 2009. These personnel moves set the wheels of change in motion for the Wild.
During the 2008-09 season, the Wild’s roster had three players with college hockey experience.
The three players in question were, Craig Weller, University of Minnesota-Duluth (1998-99), John Scott, Michigan Tech (2002-06), Krys Kolanos, Boston College (1999-01).
None of the aforementioned ex-college players were regular contributors to the Wild lineup and none of them scored more than six points or played more than 36 games.
Chuck Fletcher Era
On May 22, 2009, Chuck Fletcher was hired as the second general manager of the Wild. With Fletcher’s hiring, there were significant changes to the Wild’s roster.
Fast forward to 2015-16. The Minnesota Wild’s roster looks drastically different from the 2008-09 season. On the current 2015-16 roster, there are 13 players with college hockey experience. Currently, eight of the Wild’s 12 forwards came to the NHL via the college hockey route. Here’s a breakdown of the Wild players that have college hockey experience.
Ryan Carter, Minnesota State University Mankato (2004-006) – The former New Jersey Devil came to the Wild as an unrestricted free agent on October 6, 2014. Carter is a depth forward that also plays on the penalty kill.
Charlie Coyle, Boston University (2010-12) – The former All-Hockey East Rookie came to the Wild via trade with the San Jose Sharks. Halfway through 2001-12 season, Coyle left the Boston University Terriers and joined the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Coyle is a top-six forward that has a big upside.
Justin Fontaine, University of Minnesota-Duluth (2007-2011) – The three-time All-WCHA Second Team forward came to the Wild via free agency. Fontaine helped lead the Bulldogs to an NCAA title in 2011. Fontaine is a depth forward that plays on the third and fourth lines.
Erik Haula, University of Minnesota (2010-2013) – The Pori Finland native was drafted by the Wild in the seventh round (182nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. The All-WCHA Second Team All-Star is one of the Wild`s fastest skaters and one of the Wild’s better penalty killers.
Zach Parise, University of North Dakota (2002-04) – The former All-WCHA First Team and NCAA West First All-American came to the Wild via free agency on July 4, 2012. Last season, Parise was the Wild’s top scorer (33g-29a—62pts).
Jordan Schroeder, University of Minnesota (2008-10) – The former Golden Gopher was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1st round (22nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. The All-WCHA Second Team All-Star came to the Wild on July 11, 2014, via free agency.
Thomas Vanek, University of Minnesota (2002-04) – The former All-WCHA First Team and NCAA West First All-American came to the Wild via free agency during the summer of 2014. The Graz Austria native, helped lead the Gopher to an NCAA title in 2003. Vanek was drafted in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
Jason Zucker (2010-12) University of Denver – The former All-WCHA Second Team and NCAA West Second Team All-American was drafted by the Wild in the 2nd round (59th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. In 78 games with the Pioneers, Zucker scored (45g-46a—91pts). Last season, Zucker had a career season in points and goals (21g-5a—26pts).
Christian Folin, University of Massachusetts-Lowell (2012-14) – The Gothenburg, Sweden native came to the Wild on March 31, 2013 as a free agent after his sophomore season with the UMass-Lowell. Last season, the 2013 Hockey East All-Tournament Team defenseman played in 40 games for the Wild.
Nate Prosser, Colorado College (2006-09) – The former All-WCHA Second Team defenseman came to the Wild as a free agent following his junior season with the Colorado College Tigers. Prosser was reacquired off waivers from the St. Louis Blues on October 2, 2014.
Mike Reilly, University of Minnesota (2012-15) – The former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and NCAA West First Team All-American came to the Wild as an unrestricted free agent.
Reilly was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 4th round (98th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. Reilly has a chance to make the Wild out of training camp, but will probably end up in Iowa to start the season.
Tyson Strachan, Ohio State University, (2003-2007) The Melfort, Saskatchewan native signed as an unrestricted free with the Minnesota Wild during last summer. Stachan was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 5th round (137th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft. Stachan is depth defenseman that will probably start the season in Iowa.
Ryan Suter, University of Wisconsin (2003-04) – The Former Madison, Wisconsin native was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 1st round (7th overall) of the 2033 NHL Draft. Suter played one season in the WCHA with the Badgers securing WCHA Third Team All-Star honors. Suter came to the Wild via free agency on July 4, 2013.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.