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  • Five Reasons to 'Sell' the Wild in 2015-16



    The Wild are returning almost everyone from last season

    As much as the continuity of the Wild is a strength, the fact that they didn't make any real substantial moves in the offseason should give reason for pause. This is the same team that has made the post-season three seasons in a row, but also the same team that has gone through a stretch in each season where things have spiraled down out of control, only to be saved by some crazy miracle.

    It's been a running theme with this core: when things get bad, they get really bad. From December 3rd to January 13th, the Wild were ranked 20th in Scoring Chances For per 60 minutes with 26.4, and 26th in Scoring Chances against per 60 minutes with 27.4. They were giving up all kinds of chances and they weren't creating chances of their own. With no major changes, who's to say this trend won't continue into a fourth year?

    The goaltending will come back to Earth.

    Devan Dubnyk's play was amazing since being traded to Minnesota, but perhaps most incredible was the consistency he showed for his first three months. The string of 38 consecutive included seven back-to-backs in which he was really the only player that showed up for Minnesota. The 93.9% adjusted save percentage he posted in that time frame was something special. There is no doubt that he earned that Vezina nomination.

    However, that kind of save percentage is tough to sustain over a much longer period of time- for example, a full 82-game season. Here's Dubnyk's adjusted 5v5 save percentages over the last four seasons.

    While his save percentage is likely to come back down near his career average, he should still be solid. If there's any sense of hope, it's the fact that he saw the least shots per 60 in a long time in Minnesota. A regression in save percentage means that the Wild will have to compensate for that dip in some way with scoring, and a way they can do that is next on the list.

    The power play hasn't improved since Mike Yeo took over

    The over-arching story of the season last season was how putrid the power play was. Sure it went through stretches where it had relative success, but they had trouble scoring power play goals when they needed that big goal. With the Wild greatly improving their 5-on-5 play, their terrible power play seemed baffling.

    There is a lack of NHL-ready depth

    The Iowa Wild finished with the AHL's worst record last season. Much of that has to do with the bulk of the Wild's prospect core still being in major juniors or college hockey. That leaves the cupboards a little bare going into next season. With injury always likely to occur, who can be called up to be a replacement?

    Unfortunately, we won't know the answer to that question until it becomes a reality. If they didn't have questions in their game, they wouldn't still be in Des Moines. They're there to work and develop.

    Chuck Fletcher has left very little flexibility under the cap

    Sure, there is time to make a move and recoup some of those missing picks, but that usually means that you are trading assets away. If the Wild are trading away, it means its probably on the outside looking in at the post-season. Either way, not having those assets as possible trade chips means that the inability of this team to improve may extend past this summer, and well into the season.

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