The Minnesota Wild don’t have a lot of players on the shelf, but they sure have a lot of money sidelined as they struggle early in 2017-18.
For one thing, even as his game starts to sag with age, it’s not the greatest sign when Zach Parise needs to insist that he’s not dealing with a back issue (via Dave Mizutani of the Pioneer Press). Whatever it might be, it’s not the greatest sign for the 33-year-old and the team that could use him, whether he’s declining or not.
Things aren’t looking good for Mikael Granlund at the moment, either, as head coach Bruce Boudreau ruled him out for at least the Wild’s next four games.
As a note, the Wild face a fairly tough stretch soon. Since Boudreau said “for sure,” it could be for more than those four, so here’s the rest of their October schedule:
Thu, Oct 12 @ Chicago
Sat, Oct 14 vs Columbus
Fri, Oct 20 @ Winnipeg
Sat, Oct 21 @ Calgary
Tue, Oct 24 vs Vancouver
Thu, Oct 26 vs NY Islanders
Sat, Oct 28 vs Pittsburgh
Tue, Oct 31 vs Winnipeg
Four games (or so) would actually be reasonably logical, what with the Wild closing out the month at home. Granlund can avoid travel; even at 25, it might be helpful not to get on a plane, particularly if he has a leg/groin issue.
Either way, Granlund’s issue might be more frustrating for the player and his team than what Parise is going through. The rising forward avoided salary arbitration this past summer with a three-year contract that carries a $5.75 million cap hit, so he’s likely eager to show that he’s worth the money (and more).
It doubly stings since he finally broke through in 2016-17; Granlund enjoyed career-highs in goals (26), assists (43), points (69), and saw his shooting percentage go above 10 for the first time (14.7).
Everything seemed to come together last season, prompting Granlund to state that the Wild were in a great position to exorcise some playoff demons in 2017-18.
Not having the gifted Granlund and the still-useful Parise in the lineup hurts, but the Wild can only see that excuse go so far, especially in a Central Division where they banged-up St. Louis Blues have won their first three games despite an imposing list of issues.