The Minnesota Wild come into the 2013-14 season with pretty lofty expectations. They’ve built up their roster in free agency and trade, but also through drafting and player development. That latter aspect has been a bit overlooked with their recent big name additions on the free agent and trade markets.
However, what is going to push the Wild over the top as contenders in the Western Conference is going to be their youth. We know about their high end offensive talent, and their Norris Trophy candidate of a no. 1 defenseman. While that’s all well and good, you need the complementary pieces in order to be successful.
There are three main players you talk about when discussing youth with the Minnesota Wild. The first is Jonas Brodin. An obvious snub as a Calder Trophy finalist last year (and a player that probably should have won the award), he benefited from playing next to Ryan Suter, and gave the Wild a dynamite top defensive pairing.
While he’s the one that gets the most attention, Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle will each be counted on to produce as well. Granlund rebounding from a poor first year would be huge for the Wild. If he can realize his potential, he’s a phenomenal playmaker in the middle and could be a tremendous asset as a no. 2 center. Coyle represents an offensive asset, and a versatile player that can play all over the lineup.
Then there’s Nino Niederreiter, who was acquired in the Cal Clutterbuck trade. While he wasn’t drafted by the Wild, he’s still part of the youth movement for the organization and a player that will be an asset offensively. Throw Jason Zucker‘s name in there as well, though he won’t be a part of the team to start the year.
The point is that while the Wild do have some upper tier talent on this roster, the youth is going to have to deliver. We saw it last year with the Chicago Blackhawks. That youth can make a tremendous difference as secondary scoring and as depth. If the Wild get strong performances from their key young guys, they could be primed for at least a deep postseason run.