The Wild’s veterans have played a huge part in the team’s success recently. Over the last four seasons, the Wild have made the postseason. In those four years, they have not made it past the second round, nor have they been able to defeat Chicago in a seven-game series. Part of that was due to injuries. Some of those reasons were due to goal-tending, but other times, it was due to the lack of offensive production from some of the team’s key veteran players. Although they have produced at different times, the Wild’s veterans have not clicked offensively at the same time in the playoffs.
Mikko Koivu, the team’s captain, was held to just one goal in 13 games during the 2014 postseason. In 10 games in 2015, Koivu was held to just one goal. Ryan Suter has been held to zero goals three out of the four years the Wild have made the playoffs with him on the team. Zach Parise missed last year’s playoffs due to injury, and Jason Pominville had just two goals in 13 playoff games in 2014.
Young Guns Stepping Up
With the playoffs a week away, the Wild will look to their veterans once again to lead the way on both sides of the puck. If these key players can be firing on all cylinders, the Wild could make a much deeper run this postseason. The Wild have plenty of young talent as well. Guys like Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, and Nino Niederreiter have all taken big leaps this season. Granlund is having a career year with 25 goals and 68 points in 80 games. All three have reached the 20 goal mark this year and can be huge factors in the playoffs. However, if you look at these past few years, the Wild are much more successful when their core veterans find the back of the net.
Veterans’ Success is Key
In the past four seasons, the production from the Wild’s four core veterans decided the team’s success. Since the 2013 playoffs, the Wild are 11-6 when Koivu, Suter, Parise, or Pominville scores. When they don’t score? The Wild are 2-15 in such games. This goes to show you how heavily these four veterans are relied upon. Pominville and Koivu were huge in last years’ playoffs. Despite losing in six games to Dallas, Pominville and Koivu combine for seven goals and 12 points in six games. Zach Parise has also been a catalyst for this team in the postseason. He was the center of their offense in 2014 when he scored four goals and 14 points in 13 playoff games.
New Veteran Additions
The Wild have lacked depth at the center position and made a point to address that in the off-season. The Wild signed free agent vet Eric Staal to a three-year, $10.5 million dollar deal in hopes to take some of the pressure off of Koivu as well as give Boudreau the option to move Granlund to the wing. With the addition of Staal, the Wild traded for the six-foot-six center from Arizona in Martin Hanzal at the deadline, giving them tremendous depth at the center position.
Staal has been a huge boost for this team. He leads the Wild with 27 goals and is second on the team in points with 63. Hanzal took a while to get adjusted to his new team but has come on strong as of late. He now has three goals and 12 points in 18 games with the Wild. This team is different from the Wild of past seasons. They have the talent and the experience to make a Stanley Cup Playoff run. However, if the team’s key veteran players don’t step up, it could be another early playoff exit for the Wild.