The 2016-17 regular season didn’t start the way the Minnesota Wild hoped it would, but there’s still plenty of time for them to get their season figured out.
But over the long haul, time certainly doesn’t appear to be on the Wild’s side.
Minnesota has a number of good young players on their roster, but there’s no denying that their core is getting old in a hurry.
“The consensus in the room is we have to make it now or never,” defenseman Marco Scandella recently told the Minneapolis Tribune. “We have to get it done. It could be our last year as a group, so it’s now or never. And that’s the mentality we have to have to win.
“I feel like we’re so close. We’re on the brink of greatness, and we just have to find it within ourselves. We have guys that are young still, but we have guys in their 30s now. With our group of guys, it has to happen now.”
It’s an interesting observation from the Wild defenseman.
Minnesota has six players scheduled to become restricted free agents after this season. Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Teemu Pulkkinen, Mike Reilly and Christian Folin and with cap space being tight, they may need to part with some of their veterans to get those younger guys signed.
As good as the Wild can be, it’s hard to imagine them being one of the top teams in the Western Conference or even in their own division.
And it’s not like Minnesota was a dominant team last season. They finished in the second Wild Card spot with 87 points and got bounced by Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs.
Despite losing some key pieces during the off-season, the St. Louis Blues haven’t missed a beat so far. The Dallas Stars, who are battling some injuries right now, finished at the top of the Western Conference last season. The Nashville Predators look as dynamic as ever with their dominant blue line. The Chicago Blackhawks are still relevant in that division and sprinkle in a pair of up and coming teams like Colorado and Winnipeg and you quickly realize that Minnesota won’t have it easy.
Time will tell if Chuck Fletcher knew what he was doing when he put this team together.