GDHQNHL15_2pg-Minnesota Wild 1

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Minnesota WILD WESTERN CONFERENCE Key Additions: Thomas Vanek, Justin Falk, Jordan Schroeder Key Subtractions: Matt Moulson, Nate Prosser, Dany Heatley, Clayton Stoner Strengths: A sound defensive team and coaching system Weaknesses: Questions in goal and offensive scoring issues Offense The Minnesota Wild has had trouble scoring for years now. The team addressed that issue again this off-season with the signing of Thomas Vanek to a three-year deal away from the Montreal Canadiens. Vanek is coming off of a year where he played 78 games for three different franchises, a rare feat for any player. In that time, he registered 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists). The Wild hope his offense will translate well to the defense-first system that the team incorporates. This signing comes two years after the Wild made a huge splash in free agency by signing former New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise to a mega-contract for 13 years worth $98 million. In 2013-14, Parise did not disappoint as he put up 29 goals and 27 assists. While his scoring ability is definitely valued by his team, his grit and winning attitude have not gone unnoticed by teammates and management alike. Jason Pominville was another player that was acquired to provide scoring punch, and he answered the bell. The former Buffalo Sabre put up 60 points (30 goals, 30 assists) for the Wild in his first full season with the team. This was the third time in Pominville’s career that he hit the 30-goal plateau, so while a repeat of that is not out of the realm of possibility, it is more reasonable to expect 25 goals from the 31-year-old playmaker. While all these recent additions will help the offense over the coming seasons, a full and healthy year out of team captain Mikko Koivu will go a long way towards fixing that scoring problem as well. In only 65 games last season, the native of Finland finished with 54 points (11 goals, 43 assists) while playing with Parise. A healthy season would go a long way towards improving the offense in the upcoming year. One player that came on late last year was Mikael Granlund. The former first-rounder put up 26 points once the calendar changed to 2014 while filling in for the injured Koivu on the top line and showed a flair for highlight reel goals. The Wild are looking for the 22-year-old to take the next step in his development. If he does, a 60-point season is not out of reach. Defense In the same year the team signed Zach Parise, the Wild management signed an All-Star to front their defensive group as they brought in Ryan Suter from the Nashville Predators on the same contract terms as his CENTRAL DIVISION Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Charlie Coyle Bruce Kluckhohn/NHL/Getty Images


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