Last season was a rollercoaster ride for the Minnesota Wild.While rollercoasters are fun at the amusement park, they’re not fun when it comes to your sports team.
This offseason, the Wild have a lot to check off the to-do list if they’re going to ensure this upcoming season goes a bit more smoothly than an amusement park ride.
Hire a New Coach
At the end of the 2015-16 season, the first order of business for the Minnesota Wild was to find a new coach. Interim coach John Torchetti did a great job of turning this team around, but by the end of the season, it seemed clear he wasn’t going to become Minnesota’s full-time head
That assumption was confirmed shortly after the Wild were eliminated from the playoffs. After a short negotiation, Minnesota hired Bruce Boudreau, the former coach of the Anaheim Ducks. The pair agreed on a four-year deal, making Boudreau the fifth coach in Wild history.
The Minnesota Wild and Chuck Fletcher still have a lot to do this offseason, but hiring a new coach is one thing that can already be checked off the to-do list. The Wild are ahead of the game with this move, and they have already made significant strides to improve the team for the 2016-17 season.
Say Good-bye to Thomas Vanek
In 2014, the Minnesota Wild brought Thomas Vanek back to the State of Hockey with the hopes that he would be able to provide offense like he did earlier in his career. That never happened.
While Vanek did add a significant number of goals in his two seasons with Minnesota, he never lived up to the expectations the Wild had for him. The 32-year-old still has one year left on his contract, but this offseason, the Minnesota Wild need to part ways with Vanek.
A buy-out is probably not the way the Wild saw their partnership with Vanek ending, but it’s what needs to happen (unless Vanek agrees to a trade). Vanek is a liability on the ice, and his quality of play is likely only going to continue to decline. This past season was the worst of Vanek’s career; it’s hard to imagine next season is going to see him suddenly improve.
Minnesota has too much invested in Vanek for him to perform the way he has over the past two seasons. The second item on the Wild’s to-do list this offseason is to say good-bye to the veteran.
Find a Goal Scorer
It’s no secret that the Minnesota Wild lack offense. Fletcher has tried repeatedly to bring a goal scorer to Minnesota without success (e.g., Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville). This season, the Wild need to add a proven goal scorer, not an aging veteran that produced big numbers at one point in his career.
That has been the problem with most of the “goal scorers” Fletcher has brought in. When Vanek was signed, he was already beginning to decline. The same can be said for Pominville. This time around, the Wild just need to invest the money in a young and proven goal scorer. Not a 28- or 29-year-old veteran who once scored 30-plus goals.
Minnesota needs a superstar to become a Stanley Cup-contending team. The Wild has a lot of talent on the roster, but guys like Zucker, Niederreiter and Haula just don’t seem to have that “superstar” potential. They’re great hockey players, no doubt, but this team needs more, and that’s what the Wild need to find this summer.
Move Matt Dumba
The Wild need extra offense, and Matt Dumba can certainly score, but this partnership doesn’t seem like the answer Minnesota needs at the moment.
Dumba has the potential to become a great offensive defenseman, but he’s young and last season his inexperience showed. Additionally, the Wild already has a solid defensive core with Jonas Brodin, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella. Dumba seems to be the odd one out. He’s the only one not locked into a long-term contract, and that looks to be an indication that Fletcher knows Dumba might be more valuable to the Wild if he is playing elsewhere.
— Richard D. Cloutier (@rdcloutier) June 3, 2016
Maybe instead of signing Dumba to a multi-year deal, Minnesota should give that deal to a goal scorer with true offensive potential and allow a defenseman like Olofsson or Folin to take Dumba’s place. Maybe the Wild will sign Dumba, and he’ll turn into one of the best d-men on the team. Who knows? But looking at the situation this offseason, it seems that trading, or not signing Dumba to a long-term deal, while focusing on improving the offensive side of the team would be the better option for Minnesota.
What else do you think the Wild need to add to their to-do list this offseason?
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23