The Minnesota Wild will open the 2013-24 season on Thursday night, and have added some pieces that should help them return to the playoffs. While opposing teams try to shut down a top line that features Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, the second line the Wild will put on the ice this season could be just as dangerous. Winger Dany Heatley will be trying to bounce back after a 2013 season that was among the most disappointing of his career, and the two linemates he will be playing with should help him accomplish that goal. Charlie Coyle, who was impressive in his rookie season with the Wild and Nino Niederreiter, an offseason addition, should provide the jump that Heatley needs to once again be a threat to score at least 20 goals.
Coyle has great size (6-2, 202) and ended up playing in 37 games for the Wild last season. He scored eight goals and had 14 points while getting shuffled around on the top three lines, but he has definitely shown he can be a top-six forward. Niederreiter is a former top five pick of the New York Islanders who has just two goals in 64 career games but was buried in the AHL last season. He had 28 goals and 50 points for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and the change of scenery is expected to jump-start his career. He needs to show promise early on, as this may be his last shot at a full-time job at the top level if he can’t duplicate his success from lower levels of play. Heatley scored 11 goals and had 21 points last season, but he’s in a contract year and should be plenty motivated to return to the 24-goal, 53-point form he showed in his first season with the Wild.