How I’d Fix The Minnesota Wild’s Top Power Play Unit


The Minnesota Wild power play needs a lot of help as the playoffs get closer, and a few simple changes may be the answer.

There’s absolutely no secret that the Wild’s power play is dismal. Ranked 28th in the league at 14.9%, The Minnesota Wild power play has just 32 goals in 215 tries. It hasn’t scored on the road in 7 straight contests and went just 1 for 5 in Friday’s winnable contest against Anaheim.

It’s probably too late to tear the power play down and re-build it from scratch; however, there are some simple fixes that may make an immediate impact. Moving Mathew Dumba to the top unit in place of Thomas Vanek is a start, but let’s look at the Wild’s current units based on the player’s roles. To make things easy, these configurations are based on Saturday’s game against the Blues.

Top Power Play Unit:

Forwards: Zach PariseMikko KoivuJason Pominville

Defense: Ryan SuterMathew Dumba

With this unit, Koivu spends time near the net as a screen, Parise sits at the extended goal line, and Pominville is the shooter along the left-wing side. Suter maintains a fairly necessary position with zone entries and quarterbacking the top unit, but doesn’t offer much in the way of offense. Mathew Dumba is new to the power play, so we don’t quite know his place yet.

Second Power Play Unit:

Forwards: Thomas VanekMikael GranlundChris Stewart

Defense: Jared SpurgeonJonas Brodin

This unit is a lot less appealing to me. Stewart adds a net-front presence with some size and the ability to separate bodies from pucks, but hasn’t been a big point producer in several seasons. We’re well aware of Thomas Vanek’s struggles this season, but he’s classically been excellent on the power play. Granlund is arguably the best passer on the team. Spurgeon has an absolute howitzer of a shot and Brodin serves the same purpose as Suter.

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The top unit scored on Friday, but has been largely unsuccessful since the all-star break. Comparatively, the second power play unit has generated a bunch of chances that carried over to even strength goals just after the power play expired.

I’m really let down by Nino Niederreiter’s absence from either unit, given he joins Pominville as one of only two true snipers on the team. So, we can fix it, but we need to put the pieces together.

Trembley’s Take: Building A New Top Unit

There’s too many problems with the existing power play to just make subtle changes and achieve an overnight change. Using a similar set up with a dedicated shooter, playmaker, screen, and two point men, we can rebuild the power play units with a little help from some stats.

Shooter: Nino Niederreiter. Second on the team with 22 goals, Niederreiter has a wicked shot with insane accuracy. at 6′ 2″ and 205 pounds, the 22-year-old winger isn’t afraid to generate hits, either. This season, he sits at a career high 1.4 goals per 60 minutes. He’s a left shot and a natural right-winger, so putting him at the base of the right face-off circle puts him in optimal shooting position. He’ll need to improve his possession a bit, as he’s got a -2.7% Corsi-for relative on the power play in extremely limited minutes.

Screen: Zach Parise. I don’t think it’s any secret that Parise is tenacious for rebounds. He’s a great possession player, the leading scorer, ranks in at 1.3 goals per 60 minutes, and registers his most shot attempts near the goal mouth. This one is a no-brainer in my mind. His size doesn’t lend well for creating a screen, but he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty. Parise has a power play Corsi-for relative of +3.4%.

Center: Mikael Granlund. This one was tough. Granlund is having a down season, but has 5 points (1G-4A)  in his last 7 games and 30 points (7G-23A) in 55 games this season. He’s sitting at 1.4 assists per 60 minutes. Much like Niederreiter, Granlund’s negative in power play possession with a Corsi-for relative at -2.5%  Intangibly, Granlund has the best vision on the team, making him ideal for quarterbacking along the half-wall. He’s been pretty miserable on the face-off lately, so that’s going to need some improvement.

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  • Pivot: Jason Pominville. We’ll stick with the 4-forward model for a few reasons. Pominville’s a great shooter, which adds another weapon, and has a shot that can get from the point all the way to the net. He’s got a power play Corsi-for relative of +5.7%, which leads all skaters.

    Point man: Mathew Dumba. This one’s a no-brainer. Dumba’s got a crazy hard shot, isn’t afraid to jump in on a rush, and has developed in to the player he was drafted as. Dumba has 4 goals since February 18th, including a 2-goal game against Ottawa on March 3rd.

    So, I built the top unit. Who do you think should be on the Wild’s power play. Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading.

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