While the Minnesota Wild will be counting on new faces like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Mikael Granlund to carry them to victory this year, I think a bigger factor will be the depth that the new signings will create. Last year, the Wild could barely scrap together a passable first line, with injuries to Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and of course Mikko Koivu.
This year, they hope to have two good scoring lines, with Devin Setoguchi being moved to the second line with Matt Cullen and Mikael Granlund. But any team that wants to make a playoff run needs to have depth beyond just the top-six.
I think the Wild will have an above-average third line this year, with Kyle Brodziak centering Cal Clutterbuck and possibly Darroll Powe or Stephane Veilleux. I hate to use hockey clichés like “Energy Line” but a combination like that could create some opportunities on offense, while wearing down the opponents with strong checking and defense, taking some of the burden off the top-six and giving the team more options.
Mike Yeo has shown a willingness to rely on his bottom-six players to match up against the top players from the other team (if you are into advanced stats, Brodziak was among the league leaders in quality of competition faced in 2011-12.)
We got to see this strategy pan out only for a short tme last year before the injuries started rolling in. With a full season of healthy players, we could see how a strategy that utilizes depth-versus-strength would work in the long-term. I think with the direction the Wild are moving as an organization, their roster depth could be one of their most valuable assets.