The Minnesota Wild entered this season amid elevated expectations after signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year-old, $98,000,000 contracts over the summer.
This is also a team that failed to make the playoffs in their previous four campaigns and finished 12th in the Western Conference in 2011-12. The additions of Suter and Parise were huge, but it’s not like they were joining a team on the cusp of greatness.
This is still a growing club and with that in mind, Wild coach Mike Yeo can see the silver lining even after being eliminated in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks.
“This was another important step for us, and even feeling this feeling that we feel right now,” Yeo said, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo. “This is going to help us.”
Minnesota has some decisions to make over the summer. They already have $55,812,201 committed to 17 players, according to Cap Geek, so they’re not in a great position to make another big splash.
All the same, 35-year-old netminder Niklas Backstrom is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, so the Wild need to address that situation. Otherwise they’ll enter the 2013-14 campaign with a tandem of 23-year-old Darcy Kuemper and Josh Harding.
The Wild also have several young players that might take a step forward in 2013-14, but perhaps the most notable is 21-year-old forward Mikael Granlund. The expectations surrounding him were high going into this season, but he wasn’t able to make a seamless transition to the NHL. Perhaps next season, he’ll be a difference-maker for this club.