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  • Hockey Wilderness Writers 2016-17 Season Predictions


    Last week, we urged you to take preseason predictions with a grain of salt. So naturally this week we are giving you all of ours. So from our writers, here are our takes that range anywhere from ice cold to the blazing fire of the sun. We hope you enjoy, and we’d love to hear everything you have to say about the upcoming season in the comments section!

    Dakota Case

    With a new coaching staff and some new players, it's a new year for the Minnesota Wild. What the club does with that is a huge question mark. We've seen the club brass put together a pretty deep lineup, and a new experienced voice behind the bench has given fans a lot of hope. We've had a lot of hope before, though. 

    If the off-season signings play up to snuff, Parise stays healthy, the youngsters-turned-vets finally step into their own, new youngsters step in and Dubnyk plays average to slightly above, Minnesota may finally be good enough to secure a non-wild card playoff berth. If not, it could be an early summer. My prediction? It's the Central's third seed or bust.


    The Minnesota Wild will make the playoffs again this year and not as a wild card for the first time since the realignment. Bruce Boudreau will have a big impact on the Wild and the difficulty in adjusting to a new system is overstated. Last year Boudreau had to create a new system during the season and the Ducks had to learn it, yet they managed to pull off a 103 point season (granted, it was in the weak Pacific Division). In the past, teams under Boudreau have experienced big jumps in performance. Better depth at center frees up Charlie Coyle and  Mikael Granlund to play on the wings where they are more productive. Nashville looks like the early favorite to win the Central, but after them everyone looks at least somewhat vulnerable. It'll be a knife fight for sure, but the Wild have the overall depth and the coaching to land a top three spot in the division by the end of the regular season.

    If that prediction doesn't seem outlandish enough for you, try this on for size: Zach Parise will finish outside the top three in scoring on the team this season. Considering he has finished either first or second in scoring on the team since he joined the Wild, this may seem crazy but consider this: Parise finished fifth on the team in 5v5 scoring last year. He had 19 points from the power play. Although Parise will still get his fair share of power play time, the departure of Yeo should mean that power play time will be spread more evenly among the vets and the younger players. The slight decrease for Parise and the increase for other players like Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, plus the addition of Eric Staal, is going to result in Parise finishing outside the top three in scoring for the Wild.

    Cat Lenander

    This year the Minnesota Wild have a new coach, Bruce Boudreau, and center, Eric Staal. Hopefully both will improve the Wild’s chances of not only making it into the playoffs, but going deep. However, the switch to John Torchetti didn’t really help the Wild last year, so unless Boudreau really shakes things up, trying some awesome new lines and tactics, I doubt it will make much of a difference. Excited to have Staal here as a new center, since the Wild desperately needed one, but one new player won’t make or break the team.

    Honestly, if you want to see a Minnesota hockey team dominate, watch the Womens Gopher Hockey team. They've won four of the last five championships and their home games are always a blast. Duluth and Bemidji’s women’s programs are also expected to do well this year. There’s also Minnesota State - Mankato and St. Cloud State University for your other MN D-I women’s programs. However, if you’re really set on a Wild prediction, I assume they’ll perform about as well as they have for the last few seasons: an early playoff round exit. Still, I’d like to see them make it to round 3; that’d be pretty sweet.


    During the 2016/17 season the Minnesota Wild are going to have ups and downs, but will ultimately flourish once they get settled into the new lines, systems, and coaching philosophy.

    Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, and Erik Haula will all have 20+ goal seasons, and finally be the players the Wild need them to be with Boudreau giving them more opportunities. Boudreau will bring back the Nino - Haula - Pommer line. They will lead the team in possession, and be in the top three in points. Joel Erickson Ek will go back to Sweden after getting his nine games here and Alex Tuch will split his time between Iowa and MN. Despite all this success the Wild won't win the Stanley Cup this year. They'll make it to the third round before being eliminated.


    Personally, I predict the Wild to be out of the playoffs. Now I’m not saying, “NO WAY THE WILD MAKE IT,” or that the Wild would #TankforNolanPatrick, but more of the though that I don’t see the Wild being able to take a wild card spot. Calgary will be much stronger than last year and likely take a top-3 spot in the Pacific. That leaves a California team battling for a Wild card spot with the Central. With Colorado and Winnipeg stronger than they were last year the Wild will have a tough time with them. Maybe this is the year that the Pacific could grab one wild card with the central taking points away from each other.

    We could even see the Oilers make a good run, who knows what Connor McDavid can do. The thing is with the Central being so strong the Wild might make it to 5th in the Central but that might not be enough. Obviously Dubnyk can carry the team or anything can happen but that’s what I predict as of now.


    If you can't be optimistic about the Wild before the season starts, then I don't know when you can be optimistic about the Wild. Barry wrote about the types of NHL point predictions available, highlighting those from Micah Blake McCurdy at hockeyviz.com.  Taking a look at the Minnesota Wild, it's clear that the team's two primary strengths are 5v5 shot suppression and goaltending. Last season, the Wild were the 8th best team in the league at preventing shots at 5v5 on a per 60 basis.  And that's before GMCF kicked some of the worst players on the team at shot suppression to the curb in Thomas Vanek, Jarret Stoll, Chris Porter, and Ryan Carter.

    For this season, Fletcher replaced a weak defensive player in Vanek with a strong defensive player in Staal on the top line. The 4th line remains in flux, especially since Coach Double-B is rolling Stewart in the top nine. But I think we can be fairly confident that BB and GMCF should be able to cobble some combination together to play 10 minutes per night between Zucker, JEE, Zac Dalpe, Teemu Pulkkinen and Chris Stewart that, at least breaks even on the shot chart. All three of the other lines will be anchored by shot-generating ninjas in Staal, Koivu, and Nino. With the improvement of the younger players on the roster and removal of the dead weight from the bottom of the forward group, the Minnesota Wild come out hot and end up in the top ten in the league in CF%, which is highly correlated to winning hockey games. Coach Double-B will get all of the cred, but HW readers will know that GMCF deserves plenty of praise as well.


    Make sure to wear gloves when handling these lukewarm #HotTakes.

    Water is wet and Bruce Boudreau wins divisional titles. Thus, I predict that the Wild will win the Central Division and at least reach the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs. To get there, I'm predicting the Wild's young core taking the next step and the veterans holding out another year. Besides the #BoudreauEffect, the Wild also have more depth than they've had in recent seasons going for them, so while they might not quite have the depth to always ice 4 scoring lines, they do have the depth to always ice a good Top 9 (not always the case last year). Dubnyk will also be a big part of this, and I think he'll receive plenty of votes for the Vezina (even if he's not a finalist). I think the Wild will have 5 defensemen with at least 8 goals and 5 forwards with at least 20 goals. Further, I think Niederreiter will have a sub 70 point season and that Suter's average time on ice will be lower than 26 minutes a night. Finally, I predict that several of the Wild's nationally underrated players will finally receive more recognition, primarily Niederreiter and Spurgeon.

    Alec Schmidt

    I think the best roster in Wild history gets off to a hot start as the players try to prove to Boudreau that they can play. The beginning of the season is generally pretty messy structure-wise for most teams and so I don't see learning Boudreau's system hindering the Wild too much early on. I do think Boudreau turns around the special teams, specifically the penalty kill which.... killed the Wild last year. We'll see Niederreiter dominate even-strength play as usual while continuing to be under-utilized by the coaching staff. Granlund is going to have a career high in points as long as he can stay on the wing. Haula's PDO is going to come down from an insane league leading 105.1, and people are going to wonder what's wrong with him even though he will still be a solid bottom six player. 

    Adam Stafki

    This is the year! It might have taken 15 seasons and countless hours of frustration, but this is the year the Wild fandom collects the fruits of its labor. This is the year that everything changes. This is the year that the Minnesota Wild finally finish in the top 10 in goals per game!

    It’s not going to be easy. The closest a Minnesota roster has come to achieving this miraculous feat was back in 2014-15 when they finished in a tie for 12

    2016-17 might not be the best season for the Minnesota Wild. They might not even make the playoffs. But there is one thing I know for sure; this team will score. And after suffering thru countless years of offensive repression, isn’t that the one thing we want the most?*

    *Besides beating Chicago in the postseason and holding Patrick Kane to zero points.

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