In 2016-17, the Wild finished second in the Western Conference with 106 points, a franchise record and were poised to make a deep playoff run. It was the first time since 2009 that Minnesotans truly felt like it was “our year”. However, the team stumbled late which led to a 5 game exit (a gentleman’s sweep as I like to call it) in the first round at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, a squad coached by Mike Yeo who we ran out of town two seasons ago. Talk about embarrassing.
Last season’s flop was an indication that changes we’re coming, and boy have there been some changes.
First, we trade Pominville and his awful contract back to Buffalo along with defensemen Marco Scandella for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Getting rid of Pommer’s contract was huge but it’s never good to make a trade where you lose the best player in the deal (Scandella) and don’t manage to improve your roster. So now we have a severely undersized Ennis to add some skill to our fourth line along with the lesser of the Foligno brothers. If you think this move is gonna make the team any better, you’re naive beyond reason and will be severely disappointed next season when this team goes into the postseason as a 7 seed.
Next, Chuck Fletcher goes out and signs Kyle Rau who’s had a disappointing career in Florida (he’s only played in like 30 games) following a solid career with Gophers and Eden Prairie High School. This is the perfect move for Fletcher; sign a Minnesota kid so the fanbase gets all fired up and then will be hesitant to criticize when his development doesn’t come to fruition. We essentially did the same thing by resigning Mike Reilly who in my opinion doesn’t have the size or the skillset to be a competent NHL defensemen.
Keep in mind these are all short-term, two-way contracts which means the front office knows none of these players are gonna make the team any better. Meanwhile the Blackhawks got back Saad, Oduya and Sharp which could very well put them back at the level they were at when they won 3 cups in 6 years. The only way this team will make any splash in the west is if they sign a prolific 40 goal scorer. Good thing those are easy come by, right?
The Wild also added veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to fill the void left by Scandella but he’s not nearly the player he used to be and will see minimal minutes as a third pair defender with Gustaf Olofsson. He’s had an alright career and has won a Stanley Cup with Detroit but he’s not making this team any better.
To add AHL depth the team also signed Landon Ferraro and Cal O’Reilly. I don’t know who they are so these signings are essentially meaningless. This team doesn’t have much cap space but has a lot of room to improve. Unless Granlund, Zucker or Niederreiter have all-star caliber seasons, it’s highly unlikely the Wild see the regular season success they experienced last year. Chuck Fletcher better pull a rabbit out of his hat soon or else he’ll see himself on the hot seat next season.