MN Wild: A Young and Struggling Franchise

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

MN Wild: A Young and Struggling Franchise

Avalanche at Wild
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Throughout the Minnesota Wild’s young history as a franchise they have gone through ups and downs just like any team can. However, it is starting to get old and fans including myself want answers. Is the Parise/Suter deal plaguing more than improving? Is the possible divide between the veterans and young guns? Or is it the need for the Wild to clean house leadership wise?

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Parise/Suter Deal

In 2012 both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were free agents and after rumors of the Wild wanting them they expressed great interest in coming here. What was Fletcher to do? Say no to two possible superstars that clearly wanted to play for his team and could be huge pick ups? Well, that’s not what he did obviously. He signed Parise and Suter and immediately gave them A’s on their sweaters.

Fans were ecstatic. I myself was ecstatic but was it more excitement about a deal being made most if not everyone thought wouldn’t happen? Tough to say. I do know that the Wild fanbase was expecting more from this deal. Especially from Parise who has struggled to produce goals this season with just 19 in 58 games. 

What is ailing Parise though? Some say it’s his knee which he never really let fully heal. Could be but I have trouble believing injury excuses. Others say it’s between his ears which wouldn’t be surprising because any player gets frustrated when they don’t produce but a winger that is expected to can especially get frustrated. 

Aside from Parise’s goal struggles the 11 & 20 duo seems to be doing okay. They are second and third on the team in points; Suter in second with 45 in 69 games played, Parise in third with 41 in 58 games played. 

Divide between the veterans and young guns

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild
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In Yeo’s final meet up with the Beat Writers Russo and Graff the divide between veterans and youngsters was mentioned and all Yeo had to say really was it is what it is. 

It was also mentioned in Wild Xtras 5MM Podcast that Yeo turned the team over to the veterans and what happened? Oates was brought in causing more drama and then of course tensions are high in the locker room. Supposedly turning the team over to the veterans is interesting. Did Yeo give up on the team or were the veterans so difficult he let them do whatever? It certainly seems like they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. 

Outside of the rink fans don’t really see pictures of vets with youngsters. They don’t seem to sit together traveling to road games, they don’t live together (most vets are married with kids), they seem to be separate from each other when they can be and together when they have to be.

Need to Clean House Leadership Wise

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Many say Fletcher is the problem. After all, he’s given away top picks to the point where we don’t have any, has coughed up awful contracts and the highest draftee he’s gotten is Dumba at 7th.  

Fans were excited when Yeo was let go and interim coach Torchetti came in and helped sweep the Western Canada road trip and then got 4 wins in a row under his belt until the Wild then started losing again. The most wins in a row under Torchetti is 4. 

It’s not surprising to say Torchetti hasn’t earned the coaching job yet and is still just an interim. Despite winning a cup as an assistant in Chicago he does have a losing record overall and may not be the answer. If Torchetti isn’t the answer then who is? 

What about the captains? Would stripping the C and/ or A’s help? Personally, I’m not a huge fan of stripping the C or A’s because the letters are at the end of the day a letter and you don’t need one to be a leader. 

Aside from personal sentiment maybe a new Captain or Assistant(s) would help bring new life to the team and in the locker room. It could be a way to test new leaders for when Koivu, Parise and Suter retire. 

Young Franchise

The Wild are a very young franchise since their inaugural season started Oct. 2000. The only team that has won a cup their first 15 seasons is the Colorado Avalanche but some would argue it wasn’t legitimate. 

Despite being a young franchise many fans aren’t happy with the current and future outlook of the team. As we have seen time and time again the playoff spots can change daily in our division because all the teams are pretty tight aside from the Winnipeg Jets.  

Past Five Years 

Per request of a follower I’m going to look back on the past few years of the Wild and how buried in the dirt they really seem.

First off: Coaches

Jacques Lemaire 2000- End of 08/09 Season 

Todd Richards 09/10 Season- 2011

Mike Yeo- June 2011- February 2016 

Secondly: Players

2010/11 Season: Two seasons before the Parise/Suter deal. The “stars” in my opinion are as follows:

Bouchard, Burns, Cullen, Koivu, Brunette and Havlat

2011/12 Season: The season before signing Parise/Suter and before the lockout. “Stars” that season:

Bouchard, Cullen, Koivu, Spurgeon

2012/13 Season: NHL Lockout and Parise/Suter’s first season in Wild sweaters. Team “Stars” that season:

Cullen, Koivu, Parise, Spurgeon, Suter

2013/14 Season: Parise/Suter’s first full season in Wild sweaters. Team “stars” that season:

Koivu, Brodin, Fontaine, Niederreiter, Parise, Pominville, Suter

2014/15 Season: Crazy season, Duby saves the Wild the second half of the season. “Stars”  Dumba, Koivu, Parise, Coyle, Niederreiter, Suter

2015/16 Season (Currently): Roller coaster of a season, Yeo fired, some fans want Fletcher fired. Current “stars” so far:

Coyle, Koivu, Suter, Nino, Dumba, Spurgeon

Thirdly: Low scoring

The Wild’s possession stats this year especially have been atrosocious and corsi isn’t much better either. The Wild are lucky to score multiple goals against challenging teams. Supposed “star scorers” such as Parise, Pominville, Zucker, Vanek, Granlund have not produced and it is very frustrating as a team and a fan. If they can’t score why would we expect players that aren’t expected to fill that category.

The team point leaders in 2010/11 were Havlat/ Koivu (61 each), Brunette/ Burns (46 each) and and Cullen (39).

In 2011/12 were Heatley (53), Koivu/ Brodziak (44 each), and Setoguchi (36).

2012/13 were Parise (38), Koivu (37), and Suter (32)

2013/14 were Pominville (60), Parise (56), Koivu (54)

2014/15 were Parise (62), Pomiville (54), Vanek (52)

Leaders currently are Koivu (46), Suter (45) and tied are Parise/ Vanek (41).  The only consistency is the names but even their numbers fluctuate season after season with this season being the second lowest with the lockout season expectedly being lowest.

Finally, Bad late season pickups:

2010/11: Feb. 12th Cam Barker picked up in exchange for Johnsson and Leddy, Jan. 21st Robbie Earl picked up in exchange for Ryan Hamilton, Jan 5th Jed Ortmeyer signed as free agent, Mar 16 Wellman signed as free agent.

2011/12: Feb 3rd Erik Christensen picked up with a conditional 2013 7th rd pick in exchange for Casey Wellman, April 12th Chay Genoway signed as free agent, Feb 27 Tom Gilbert picked up in exchange for Nick Schultz

2012/13 Setoguchi picked up with Coyle and 2011 first rd pick (28th overall Phillips) in exchange for Burns and 2012 second rd pick.

2013/14 March 4 Bryzgalov in exchange for a 2014 4th rd pick

Last year just before the deadline the Wild got Leopold in exchange for Falk and a 2015 5th rd pick and Chris Stewart in exchange for a 2017 2nd rd pick.

Next: Minnesota Wild: Devan Dubnyk is Anything But Average

The past five years overall have been roller coaster rides with rough seasons ending without a playoff run to difficult seasons followed by short playoff runs. More importantly, The Wild have not won any Conference championships, Presidents’ Trophies our Division Championships in that time span. I hope the Wild can pick it up and build a championship team soon.