Poll: Will the Wild make the playoffs?

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This post is part of Wild Day on PHT…

The Minnesota Wild made the playoffs for a fourth straight time in 2015-16, but they didn’t last long once they got there. Six games against the Dallas Stars and it was over.

True, the Wild were without Zach Parise (back injury) for the entire series, and that was undoubtedly a factor. But even if they’d had him, they would’ve been first-round underdogs. The Wild were healthier than a lot of teams during the regular season and finished just 38-33-11, giving them the fewest points (87) out of all 16 playoff qualifiers.

Suffice to say, teams that are playing well don’t usually fire their coach in February. Minnesota was one of the NHL’s worst at puck possession last season. There was the odd solid stretch, but all too often those stretches were followed by extended slumps.

Roster-wise, the Wild did not make any huge changes this offseason. Eric Staal and Chris Stewart were signed as free agents, while Thomas Vanek was bought out. Perhaps a youngster like Alex Tuch could push for a roster spot next season, but nobody’s really counting on it.

The big move was the hiring of head coach Bruce Boudreau, who before taking the Wild job enjoyed tremendous regular-season success in Washington and Anaheim.

“Bruce has that ability to convince the players, to get the players, to encourage the players, to prod the players to execute on a consistent basis,” said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. “If we do that, we’re a good hockey team and can even become very good.”

“I think our team has made a lot of improvements and we’re growing, and I think this will be a really big year for us,” Parise told ESPN.com. “I’m not one of the pessimists around. I’m optimistic. I like our team.”

But there are pessimists, to be sure. Much of the Wild’s core is over 30, and non-playoff teams from last season — teams like Winnipeg and Calgary — are young and hungry. The Central Division is a beast, and the Wild are in it.

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