If you’re a Minnesota Wild fan, this past year might not seem like it was anything truly special. There was no Cup; no first-round choice in the draft; no huge offseason acquisition or mega-trade. But if you look a little closer, the past 365 days have actually been pretty good for the State of Hockey.
So before the calendar switches to 2016, take a look back at the Minnesota Wild’s 2015 year in review:
- Minnesota acquires Devan Dubnyk on Jan. 13 from the Arizona Coyotes. Dubnyk didn’t seem like the player the Wild needed at the time, but looking back at the trade, it appears Chuck Fletcher made the best possible move for Minnesota. Dubnyk has been a brick wall for the Wild ever since.
- The Minnesota Wild defeat the Arizona Coyotes (Dubnyk’s former team) on Jan. 17, the ninth annual Hockey Day Minnesota.
- Minnesota is awarded its first outdoor game – the Coors Light Stadium Series Game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The teams are set to face off on Feb. 21, 2016 in TCF Bank Stadium.
- The Wild’s season looked like it was over at this point, but after a few games with Dubnyk in net, Minnesota began digging itself out of a slump and back into the playoff picture.
- The Wild lose both Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter to injuries just as the season is starting to looking up. Zucker suffered a broken collarbone during a game against the Vancouver Canucks, while Carter was diagnosed with an “upper-body injury” that kept him out for a month.
- Despite losing Zucker and Carter, Minnesota posts a record of 11-2-1 in February, losing only two games in regulation all month.
- Minnesota acquires defenseman Jordan Leopold from the Columbus Blue Jackets and winger Chris Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the trade deadline.
- Dubnyk proves that trading for him back in January was a smart move by Chuck Fletcher. The former Arizona Coyote starts every game in March, extending his consecutive start streak into April.
- Minnesota’s late-season success continues as the team completes the month of March with a 11-3-0 record.
Jason Zucker returns to the lineup two months after breaking his collarbone on Feb. 9. In his first game back, Zucker scores the game-winning goal for Minnesota, sending his team into the playoffs.
- Minnesota secures a spot in the postseason on April 8 with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. This is the third consecutive year that the Wild have made it to the playoffs.
- Dubnyk’s consecutive start streak finally comes to an end on April 9 against the Nashville Predators. After 39 consecutive starts – the NHL’s longest streak for a goalie since 2007-08 – the goaltender took a night off. In his two-and a-half months of successive starts, Dubnyk’s impressive stats propelled him from an unknown minor-leaguer to one of the most prominent goalies in the league. His notable play also helped push the Wild into a playoff spot.
- The first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins as the Minnesota Wild take on the St. Louis Blues. After six games, the Wild eliminate the Blues and move on to the second round to face the Chicago Blackhawks.
- For the third straight year, Minnesota and Chicago meet in the postseason. History repeats itself as the Blackhawks sweep the Wild in four games and eliminate Minnesota in the second round.
- As is often the case with the first month of the offseason, very few notable events occur. June is quiet for the Minnesota Wild.
- Development camp starts on July 9. Alex Tuch, Kurtis Gabriel, Mike Reilly and many other Wild prospects fill the Xcel Energy Center for scrimmages and practices. Tuch scores his well-known “Tuch Trot” goal during one of the scrimmages on July 15.
- In August, the Wild announce details about the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The alumni rosters are reviled, as are ticket prices.
- Training camp begins as the Minnesota Wild make preparations for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
- The Wild begin the preseason on Sept. 21 against the Buffalo Sabres. Minnesota loses its first preseason game 3-2, but manages to end the preseason with a record of 4-2-0.
- Minnesota claims forward Chris Porter off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers. Porter previously played with Zach Parise for two seasons at the University of North Dakota, as well as one season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s before becoming Wild teammates.
- The Wild begin the season on Oct. 8 against the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota wins the first game of the season in dramatic fashion by a score of 5-4.
- On Oct. 10, the Wild play their home opener against last season’s playoff rival, the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota manages to pull off another win, defeating the Blues 3-2.
- Minnesota starts off strong in the first month of the season, going 7-2-2.
- Minnesota’s hot start comes to a halt as injuries plague the team. The Wild lose Tyler Graovac, Justin Fontaine, Zach Parise, Ryan Carter and a handful of others to injury and illness throughout the month. As a result, Minnesota manages to win only four games in November.
- The Wild struggle to get back on track after a rough November. Minnesota faces a string of tough opponents like the Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, but manages to win a majority of the games.
- The Wild head into the New Year with a winning record and respectable place in the standings, but also some glaring problems that need to be addressed in 2016.