Depending upon how you look at 2016-17, Bruce Boudreau and the Minnesota Wild either exceeded expectations or did exactly as one might predict.
After three years of narrowly making it into the postseason, the Wild easily did so last season. For quite some time, it even looked like they might win the Central Division before the Chicago Blackhawks overtook them. On another bright side, players enjoyed career years (Mikael Granlund, Devan Dubnyk) and others seemed revitalized (Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu) under Boudreau.
On the other hand, the Wild still fell in the first round and a Boudreau team failed in the postseason once again. Naysayers who lowered their volume during the regular season roared when the St. Louis Blues dispatched the Wild in just five games.
Such a disappointment brought changes, though salary cap constraints/the expansion draft likely factored in just as heavily.
Despite a heavy price to land him at the trade deadline, Martin Hanzal is no longer with the Wild. Marco Scandella is also out of town as part of a swap that sent Jason Pominville back to Buffalo, with Minnesota taking on Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno.
Factors like the expansion draft make some of this seem unfair, yet all due respect to the likes of Kyle Quincey, but this roster looks a little weaker on paper heading into 2017-18.
That said, Granlund and Nino Niederreiter were locked up long-term for reasonable prices, so this off-season may still be a win overall.
It’s not all perfect for the Wild, but Boudreau’s shown a knack for optimizing the talent provided. Maybe this time around, he’ll even prove that such magic doesn’t need to run out after game 82.
PHT discusses the factors working for and against the Wild on this fine Tuesday.