Tag: Jared Spurgeon

Zach Parise

Wild ’15-16 Outlook


When looking at the Minnesota Wild, it’s easy to see their potential, but without making any major additions over the summer, are they in a position to get past the second round for the first time since 2003?

To a decent extent, Minnesota’s fate rests on Devan Dubnyk’s shoulders. This is a team that was in a free fall when he was acquired and his stellar play helped right the ship. Minnesota doesn’t necessarily need him to win the Vezina Trophy, but if he struggles mightily, as he did in 2013-2014, then Minnesota could be in serious trouble. Of course Darcy Kuemper and perhaps even Niklas Backstrom could step up to fill the void in that scenario, but Backstrom is 37 years old with a history of injuries while Kuemper is coming off of an erratic campaign.

Part of the reason why so much rides on Dubnyk though is because Minnesota’s offense hasn’t been anything to write home about. Which is a shame because in theory, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Mikko Koivu should make for a great core and when you throw in promising youngsters like Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Charlie Coyle, the potential is there for the Wild to be more than a middle of the road team when it comes to offensive production.

That’s what they were last season though, in part because Koivu regressed while Granlund, Niederreiter, and Coyle weren’t able to make meaningful offensive improvements compared to their 2013-14 campaigns. Perhaps that will change this season though and if it does, that would certainly take some of the pressure off of the Wild’s goaltending.

As far as their defense goes, Ryan Suter is expected to once again play in nearly half of every game. Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and Jonas Brodin are projected to make major contributions too, but the X-factor is 21-year-old Matt Dumba as he should play a bigger role in his sophomore campaign after being limited to 15:00 minutes per contest last season.

The makings of a contender are there. It’s just a question of if everyone will click this time around.

It’s Minnesota Wild day at PHT

Devan Dubnyk

The Minnesota Wild’s 2014-15 campaign was a tale of two seasons. There was the time before Devan Dubnyk and then the time after his arrival.

Before Dubnyk was traded on Jan. 14, the Wild were a team in disarray. They had lost 12 of their last 14 games, shifting the question from if they could take a step forward from their 2014 second round exit to if they could even make the playoffs. Now in the third season of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter era, their stagnation was tremendously disappointing.

On Jan. 7, Wild coach Mike Yeo seemed to lose his cool during a team practice in dramatic fashion. To make matters worse, goaltender Darcy Kuemper left the same practice with a lower-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild went on to lose another four games, including a 7-2 defeat to Pittsburgh on Jan. 13.

“We’re so easy to play against,” Zach Parise said after the game, per the Associated Press. “We lose battles. The details of our game are terrible. We don’t make it hard on the other team.”

Then Minnesota acquired Dubnyk from Arizona for a third round pick and he was given the nod on Jan. 15. He ended up starting in 39 of the Wild’s final 40 games and posted a 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage over that span to salvage their campaign.

Once in the postseason, Minnesota bested the St. Louis Blues in six games, setting up a series against the Blackhawks for the third consecutive year. Chicago had beaten them twice before and despite all the Wild had accomplished on their road to Chicago this time around, the outcome would not be any different. The Blackhawks powered past Minnesota in four games.

Offseason recap

After his strong performance, the big question for the Wild this summer was how much re-signing Dubnyk would cost them. Determining fair value was no simple matter given Dubnyk’s rocky history, but the two sides ultimately settled on a six-year, $26 million deal.

Up against the cap, this has been a quiet summer for Minnesota as far roster changes go. Chris Stewart and Kyle Brodziak walked as unrestricted free agents while former Wild players Sean Bergenheim, Matt Cooke, Jordan Leopold, and Keith Ballard remain unsigned. On top of that the Wild haven’t made any significant additions thus far.

That’s to be expected though as the team has to factor in the potential raises that Jason Zucker, Jared Spurgeon , Matt Dumba, and Kuemper might get as restricted free agents next summer.

Wild re-sign Folin to two-year, reportedly one-way deal


The Minnesota Wild announced via Twitter that they have re-signed 24-year-old defenseman Christian Folin to a two-year contract.

According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, it’s a one-way contract with an annual cap hit of $725,000 per season.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Most interesting is it’s a full one-way contract. That currently gives the Wild eight defensemen if Mike Reilly makes the team (Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Reilly, Matt Dumba, Nate Prosser and Folin).

I use the word “interesting” because if the Wild keeps eight defensemen and Niklas Backstrom remains on the roster once the season starts as a third goaltender, the Wild could only keep 12 forwards (no extras).

In 40 regular season games with the Wild last season, the former university hockey standout scored twice and recorded 10 points. Minnesota signed Folin as a college free agent in March, 2014.

Blues now look like they’re ‘dialed in,’ says Hitchcock


They weren’t happy after a Game 3 shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild. But the St. Louis Blues emphatically bounced back on Wednesday.

The series is now tied 2-2, heading back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday. The Blues were dominant against the Wild in Game 4, coming away with a 6-1 victory after a great start in the first period. The offensive outburst might garner most of the attention, especially when Vladimir Tarasenko scores a goal like this and goalie Devan Dubnyk gets chased from the game.

“Our scoring is a direct reflection of our checking. When we check, we score,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, as per NHL.com.

“It looks like we’ve joined the tournament now and we’re dialed in. We’ve got home-ice back, we’re dialed into our game, we’re going to be hard to play against when we’re dialed in this. Not fun to play against.”

The Wild couldn’t regroup after a slow start.

Minnesota cut the St. Louis lead to two goals early in the second period, as Jared Spurgeon converted on the power play, but any momentum gained from that was didn’t last long.

“It didn’t have the feel of the type of game that we were going to come back,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.

“We weren’t on it from the start, and it got worse. Normally, I think we start well but we stay with our game very strongly as far as whether we’re ahead [or] whether we’re behind, and tonight we broke that, that’s for sure.”

Wild add defensive depth, get Leopold from Columbus

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets

The Minnesota Wild bolstered their blueline on Monday, acquiring longtime veteran and Minnesota native Jordan Leopold from Columbus.

In exchange, the Blue Jackets receive Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Leopold, 34, has split this season between St. Louis and Columbus, scoring one goal and three assists in 18 games with the Blue Jackets while averaging 17:15 TOI per night. He could be a useful piece for the Wild, who are dealing with injuries to Jared Spurgeon and Keith Ballard on the back end (and have a lot of youth on the blueline with the likes of Mathew Dumba and Christian Folin.)

Leopold carries a $1.75 million cap hit and is an unrestricted free agent at year’s end, so this is purely a rental for the Wild and some insurance for the playoff chase.