If you read the Star Tribune today, you might have noticed Torrey Mitchell had been bumped up to first line right wing. That was short lived.
The Minnesota Wild have announced that youngster Charlie Coyle, the top line right wing for much of last season, will return to the lineup tonight after missing 12 of the past 13 games with a knee sprain/soreness. That said, Mitchell will remain on the Wild’s fourth line with center Zenon Konopka and winger Dany Heatley, providing Minnesota with a swift, physical line that also has a little bit of scoring potential.
Coyle joins left winger Zach Parise and center Mikko Koivu on a line that has seen the latter two players combine for nine even-strength points in 15 games. It’s a good thing Minnesota’s second line has been able to carry the brunt of the offensive work load.
In the past four games, the “Graninoville” line–Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville–has combined for eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points. They’ve been white hot, and don’t show any signs of stopping anytime soon. Granlund, who was originally third line right wing at the start of the season, jumped into Coyle’s role as No. 2 center after the 2010 28th overall pick went down in Game Two and hasn’t looked back. After making the team’s final cut before Opening Night, “Granlund the Great” has proven he belongs in Minnesota.
The attention now turns to Coyle as fans look to see how he responds after missing all but three games of the season so far. Last year, it was Coyle who rose to the occasion amongst Minnesota’s rookie forwards, leading all Wild rookies with eight goals and six assists for 14 points and a plus-3 rating. That was a group that included 2013 All-Rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin, a struggling Granlund and a rising Jason Zucker.
This year, Brodin has proven himself to be just as good as last season hinted he could be, Granlund is swiftly coming into his own as a rising star in the league and Zucker has found himself back on the outside looking in down in Des Moines. However, Nino Niederreiter wasn’t in the mix last season. Boy, oh boy, does he make this team better! In 15 games, the 2010 5th overall pick has notched three goals and six assists for nine points and a plus-3 rating.
So, as anyone can see, it’s a different team Coyle finds himself slotting back into. There isn’t a lot of room, because young guys have claimed spots and are holding on for dear life. Coyle can probably kiss No. 2 center goodbye, but Wild fans and management would love to see him rediscover the success he had last season on the top line with Parise and Koivu.
In case you forgot, this is just a taste of what his potential is or could be.
That’s pure domination, folks. If he can do that as a rookie against a very tough Vancouver Canucks squad, there’s no reason he can’t do that tonight, a season later, against the Calgary Flames. Anyone else have goose bumps just thinking about how good this team could be in a few seasons?