July 9, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; (L-R) Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, forward Zach Parise, defenseman Ryan Suter, general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo pose for a photo during a press conference at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild 2012/2013 Review: UFA Signings


With the Minnesota Wild’s 2013 season wrapped-up and in the books, it is now time to start dissecting and analyzing every part of the season.

Over the coming weeks, I will be reviewing different aspects of the campaign and offering some relevant insight, analysis and numbers.

To begin, I’ll be reviewing the unrestricted free agent signings the Wild made before and during the 2012/2013 season. During the Summer of 2012, before the announcement of the lockout, the Wild signed Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell and Jake Dowell. After the lockout had been resolved and the season was underway, they also added Brett Clark. Here is a breakdown of each player’s performance and some analysis:

Zach Parise

May 3, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Chicago Blackhawks in game two of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

 LENGTH: 13 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $98,000,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 28

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
LW 48 18 20 38 +2 20: 40 182/9.9 16 33.3 3:25 1:27
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
63.6 .586 +18.2 +11.32 7.40 900 974

 

Playoffs

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
LW 5 1 0 1 -7 21:23 17/5.9 2 0.0 4:12 0:48
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
66 17.387 -15.2 -28.29 3.12 863 894

 

Entering the Summer of 2012, Zach Parise was the most sought-after UFA forward on the market. After having his two best seasons in 2009 and 2010 and then missing most of 2011 injured, he had bounced back well in 2012 to play 82 regular season and 24 play-off games for the Devils as they finished as runners-up in the Stanley Cup Finals.

After signing for the Wild, Zach spent the entire season on Mikko Koivu’s wing on the top line, where they displayed great chemistry and complimented each other’s playing-style very nicely. His relentless fore-checking and constant harassment of opposition defencemen in front of the net endeared him to the Wild fanbase very quickly. Parise notched 38 points in 48 games, a scoring pace that, over 82 games, would’ve  resulted-in a total of 65 points. This would have been his lowest total since 2007-2008 (not including his injury-ravaged 2011). While I think he needs to improve his scoring pace to justify the size of his contract, I don’t necessarily think he is slowing-down offensively.

The relatively low production is most likely a result of the Wild being an inherently offensively-challenged team. The team is taking steps in the right-direction, but until they are rolling 4 lines of  skilled forwards with defencemen who are confident  in moving and playing the puck, then it will be tough for the star players, such as Parise, to really break free and notch high point totals. On a positive note, Parise, along with Koivu and Charlie Coyle, put up excellent puck possession numbers all year, playing against tough competition. Next year, If Mike Yeo can find a way to get his best forwards more favorable match-ups, then I think Parise will see his scoring rate greatly increase.

Another point of criticism is his performance in the playoffs, where he, and the entire 1st line, were swallowed-up by whoever the Blackhawks matched-up against the them, and failed to make any impact on the series. As the team’s best forward and star player, signed to be a difference-maker in crucial games, 1 goal in 5  is simply not good enough.

Overall, I think Parise showed us flashes of why so much money has been invested in him, but he needs to score at a higher-rate in the coming seasons. Next year will be crucial in determining whether he can still score at an elite level, or if his point totals are going to start trending downwards. Personally, I think he is going to have a big year, but it will depend on how much the Wild improve as a whole. The rest of the team needs to take the pressure off the top line players by becoming better at retaining puck possession and creating pressure.

Final Grade: B

Ryan Suter

Mar 3, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) against the Edmonton Oilers at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Oilers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

LENGTH: 13 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $98,000,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 28

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
D 48 4 28 32 +2 27:16 91/4.4 24 0.0 3:46 2:07
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
49.9 0.204 -2.3 -2.56 7.83 925 1003

 

Playoffs

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
D 5 0 0 0 -5 31:37 5/0 4 0 4:40 2:07
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
46.1 16.634 -9.5 -22.82 0.0 935 935

 

 

Before signing with the Wild in the Summer of 2012, Suter was the model of consistency with the Nashville Predators in terms of his defensive play and his production. In 2012 he scored a career high 46 points and enjoyed his best all-round season.

Early in 2013, he was paired with Jared Spurgeon, before finding the right fit alongside 19 year old rookie Jonas Brodin. In terms of defensive play, he had some problems during the early part of the season, before finding his feet and returning to his old solid self. Offensively, he was on pace for 54 points in an 82 game season, which would have been a new career-high for him.

The other notable stat from his season is his league-leading 27:16 TOI/G during the regular season, and the 31:37 TOI/G he logged in the playoffs. This heavy-usage certainly took its toll as Suter showed signs of fatigue in Game 4 and Game 5 against the Blackhawks in the playoffs.

The fact that Suter won’t have to go through an awkward adjustment phase, the Wild’s D-corps should be better as a whole and Jonas Brodin will be a year older makes me think that Suter could be in for another big year in 2013/2014.

Final Grade: A

Torrey Mitchell

Mar 29, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Torrey Mitchell (17) skates in the Dallas Stars zone during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Wild 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

LENGTH: 3 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $5,700,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 28

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
RW/C 45 4 4 8 -8 10:29 39/10.3 21 50 0:01 1:16
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
39.6 -1.555 -9.2 -8.77 4.70 916 963

 

Playoffs

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
RW/C 5 1 0 0 -4 11:24 8/12.5 0 33.3 0:00 1:35
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
35.5 13.759 -14.6 -29.69 7.14 844 915

 

 

Mitchell was signed after his contract with the San Jose Sharks expired at the end of the 2012 season. He was known for his speed and energy, and had just recorded 23 and 19 points in his previous two seasons.

He spent most of the year on the 4th line, playing RW, and made a couple of excursions to the 3rd and even the 2nd line. He proved to be a very useful player, able to play LW, RW and C. He was good on the forecheck and used his speed to put pressure on the opposition defencemen in their own zone. His play on the penalty kill was excellent all year.

He was on pace for 15 points in 82 games, which would’ve been the lowest total of his career, aside from a year when he only played 56 times. His lack of scoring was probably down to the fact that he spent most of the year playing limited minutes on the 4th alongside Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka, two players who aren’t exactly adept at playmaking or finishing.

I see Mitchell being a key part of the Wild’s bottom-6 for years to come. While he will probably be on the 4th line next year, he has shown that he is useful in the top-9 as well. His production should increase if he is on a line with players who compliment his playing style better. Overall, a useful addition on a decent contract.

Final Grade: C+

 

Zenon Konopka

Mar 9, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Minnesota Wild center Zenon Konopka (28) faces off against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

LENGTH: 2 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $1,850,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 32

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
C 37 0 0 0 -4 8:26 18/0 117 60.7 0:00 0:09
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
24.1 -0.596 -14.2 -14.36 4.12 938 979

 

Playoffs

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
C 2 0 0 0 -2 9:52 2/0 0 42.1 0:00 0:00
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
7.7 14.974 +7 -24.32 0.0 867 867

 

 

In the Summer of 2012, the Wild became the 5th team in 6 seasons to add, face-puncher, Zenon Konopka to its roster. He quickly became a PR darling due to his quotability and his pet bunny. Unfortunately, when he took to the ice, it became apparent that he lacked any notable hockey skills, aside from winning face-offs, and wasn’t all that good at being an enforcer.

He fought 9 times during the season, curiously, only once on the road. When fights are supposed to be some kind of momentum swing for your team, surely it would make more sense to do it on the road, no? He only fought twice in the last 19 games he dressed for, including two games in the play-offs. I guess momentum isn’t important in season-defining games. When he did decide to drop the gloves, he usually just tied-up his opponent until the linesmen decided to stop the fight and save everyone in the arena from falling asleep.

Away from fighting, he was a complete non-factor on the ice. He notched zero points all year, and his lack of speed meant that the team was often caught short-handed defensively while he lumbered back towards his own net. The only skill he brought to the ice was his ability to win face-offs, but this skill was fairly irrelevant seeing as any key face-off would almost certainly be taken by Koivu or Cullen as Yeo would want to have all his best players on the ice. He also had a penchant for regularly taking dumb minor penalties to heap pressure on his teamates. He arrived billed as a “penalty-kill specialist”, yet barely saw any shorthanded minutes all season. It’s amazing that Yeo dressed him for 39 games.

If Konopka had been signed on a 1 year contract, I would be okay with the signing, but the fact that he has another year left and is about to earn $1’000’000 in 2014, a $150’000 increase from his first year makes me wonder what the brass were thinking when they offered it. They should look to dump Konopka this off-season via a trade for peanuts or waivers as there is no place for him on the roster next year.

Final Grade: F

Jake Dowell

Apr 23, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner (25) and Minnesota Wild forward Jake Dowell (18) battle for the puck in the third period at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeat the Kings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

LENGTH: 2 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $1,400,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 28

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
C 2 0 0 0 0 8:32 3/0 0 66.7 0:00 0:23
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
33.3 -3.158 +11.2 +22.06 0.00 1000 1000

 

 

Jake Dowell is the quintessential 4th-line “mucker”, playing a gritty, physical game but lacking the skills to be a threat offensively. He was signed last Summer as a UFA after a decent year with the Dallas Stars. He spent most of the year in the AHL with the Houston Aeros, before receiving a call-up  to the Wild as injury cover late in the season and dressing for 2 games.

He wasn’t on the ice long enough to judge his NHL play fairly, but he was useful for Houston. He didn’t make any real impact on the team, but as a cheap, depth addition he was a fairly decent signing. Having guys with some experience as back-up in the AHL is always a good thing, so this signing passes.

Final Grade: D+

Brett Clark

Apr 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Brett Clark (5) against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LENGTH: 1 YEAR(S)     VALUE: $900,000     TYPE: STANDARD     EXPIRY STATUS: UFA     AGE: 36

 

Regular Season

POS GP G A P +/- TOI/G S/S% PIM FO% PP TOI/G PK TOI/G
D 8 0 1 1 -9 14.04 6/0 0 0.0 0:01 0:35
Off Zone Start % Qual Comp Corsi Rel Corsi On On Ice Team Sh% On Ice Team Sv % PDO
67.8 .405 -14 -5.25 4.35 784 828

 

 

The veteran Clark was signed in March after impressing in the AHL with the Barons. He was added to give some defensive depth and bring some offensive ability to a D-corps that was extremely lacking.

He looked good in his first couple of games, but then it became evident very quickly that he wasn’t able to cope with the rigors of the NHL anymore. He was  out of his depth and didn’t see the ice again after a 4-1 loss to Calgary in April.

This was very much a low risk signing that didn’t work out, so there isn’t much to grade here.

Final Grade: D

 

For more information on statistics used in this article: 

http://www.anaheimcalling.com/2013/2/20/4008038/cam-fowler-advanced-stats-corsi-relative

http://www.broadstreethockey.com/pages/bsh-advanced-stats-glossary

http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/01/21/pdo-explained/

Tags: Chuck Fletcher Featured Mike Yeo Minnesota Wild NHL Popular Ryan Suter Zach Parise

  • mightymikeD

    Excellent work.. though I’d upgrade Mitchell to a B, just for not shaving his head and climbing a tower with an assault rifle after dragging the Dumbass Twins around the ice all year

    • GerDevine

      This is a very good point.

      It’s amazing he didn’t go all Taxi Driver after his 2013 experience on the 4th.