The Minnesota Wild have made vast strides in their second year under coach Mike Yeo. It’s anticlimactic to fall 4-1 in exiting the first round of the playoffs, but it’s hard to fault an upstart squad too much for walking into the buzz saw that is the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks.
Minnesota managed to nab its first playoff berth in five seasons while leaping from second to fourth in the Northwest Division to earn the No. 8-seed. The matching 13-year, $98 million contracts doled out to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this past year are already panning out, while trades for Jason Pominville and Mike Rupp are boding well for the growth of this team as well.
Then there’s captain Mikko Koivu to join coach Yeo in shepherding this rapidly developing roster.
“When I sit here today and think about where our team is compared to a year ago today, dramatic difference,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher mused, via WDAY AM 980. “Four cornerstone pieces to our franchise Koivu, Parise, Suter and Pominville, last year talking about all the kids coming and now those kids are pretty good players in the NHL. … We’re not going to sit around and new players to make us better we have to have same mentality as players have we have to keep building on some of the things we’ve done.”
One key decision very pertinent to the 2013-2014 campaign is whether to sign unrestricted free agent Niklas Backstrom. The 35-year-old netminder has been with the Wild franchise in seven of the 12 years of its existence.