Minnesota Wild Roster: Who To Build Around

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Wild need to rebound next year, who is key to building the roster around for the future?

This past season was a disappointment for the Minnesota Wild. The team was far too inconsistent to be considered a serious contender in the Western Conference. That does not mean there weren’t positive developments to build off going into the 2016-17 season.

There are two main positives to takeaway from the 2015-16 season. The first was the emergence of Charlie Coyle as a legitimate power forward.

Coyle proved this season he is capable of being a top line forward. His ability to play either the wing or center position offers the Wild flexibility with its forward group. This development becomes more important in light of the fact that Mikael Granlund moved to the wing at the end of the year. Coyle’s ability to possibly drop down and be a second line center offers whoever the coach may be flexibility in their top six.

Coyle has improved every year of his professional career, with the minimum jump in points from year to year being five. Next year improvement is still needed, as he went 18 games without a goal to end the regular season. That must change (aside from the Wild) top 6 forwards around the league do not have that prolonged of goal droughts. Coyle showed flashes this past season, and if he can continue to improve, the Wild have found themselves a big part of their foundation.

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Perhaps an even bigger development was the chemistry shown by the third line of Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, and Nino Niederreiter towards the end of the season.

Pominville and Niederreiter were the Wild’s two highest scoring players during the playoffs. Haula was productive as well, and they did so in a third line role where they went up against the top line of Dallas.

All three players really hit their stride once they were paired together. Haula went from Mike Yeo’s doghouse to 21 points after Yeo’s firing, including a ten game point streak. He ended the year with new career highs in goals, assists and points (14+20=34).

At the same time,  Pominville regained his touch with Haula centering him. As evidenced by his playoff output (4+3=7) following a disappointing regular season in which he only scored 36 points, his lowest output in a non lockout season since his rookie year.

Niederreiter experienced a solid season as well, and plays a physical style perfectly suited for the third line. His ability to provide offense while still being a plus player makes him vital to the success of this team. He had career highs in both assists and points this season (23 and 43) and displayed chemistry with his new found line mates in the playoffs (1+5=6).

Having that type of play from the third line over an entire season will provide the Wild with excellent depth at forward.

Suffice to say the continued development of Charlie Coyle and chemistry of the Wild’s most most effective forward line will be vital to the team’s success next season.