Minnesota Wild: Will Offseason Moves Actually be Huge?


The rumors have flown since January about a big player shakeup on the Minnesota Wild roster, but no one has any idea when or at scale that shakeup will come.  With a massive re-tooling of the coaching staff completed this offseason, the Wild just might tipped their hand as to how big that lineup shakeup will actually be.

When the Minnesota Wild were in the midst of their epic slide in January and February the hardest question for anyone in the State of Hockey was who was to blame.  It was hard to say which group was the one at fault the players or the coaches.  As assembled the Wild were supposed to be an improvement on the team that got to the second round of the playoffs in 2014-15, and the coaching staff was expected to lead them there.  But as we all know they didn’t get there.

This offseason there has been immense pressure put on the Wild’s front office and more specifically GM Chuck Fletcher to correct issues that caused the team to underperform last season.  The search for players to improve the lineup is in full swing, and the Wild more than likely are going to make a move or two to tweak their personnel.  The feeling from most of the fan base and media is that the Wild need to acquire a huge and singularly lineup changing player.  That will fix the Wild’s problem…right?

The Wild’s management might not agree with you.  The Wild’s answer to which side was to blame might have already been answered.  They fired Mike Yeo last season, and then did not make any major player moves at the trade deadline.  That sends the very strong signal that the since the Wild changed the coaching staff and not the players last season, that they felt the players might not be the main issue.

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Fletcher really explains it best when he said multiple times during the days leading up to the trade deadline that he felt the team as it was assembled could succeed.  This offseason Fletcher explained in his first press conference after exiting the playoffs that the Wild would be seeking some forward help.  But what level of forward help would that be?  Additionally, he had almost nothing but glowing things to say about each player who might be considered on the bubble which sends a signal that he either looking to talk up his players to other GMs or he really sees a future with the team for these players.

Granted the offseason schedule has not yet played out and really given the Wild a chance to act, but the fact that they have executed such big time coaching changes sends a signal.  That signal is that the Wild wanted to fix the coaching, to bring in the best coaching talent they could.   Moreover, they wanted to bring in the best coaching staff to reach the lineup they have now.

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Bruce Boudreau is a player’s coach that brings with him a ton of respect for his success behind the bench and his experiences as a player.  The Wild were looking to acquire the best coach on the market to send a message to the players that they the management were investing in the team, so they players should invest in the team as well by playing up to and beyond their potential.  Also pile on that they hired such high caliber assistants like Scott Stevens and John Anderson, the Wild are showing that they not only wanted a change in coaching they are looking to install the best system and culture in the NHL.

That system and culture that the Wild are building with through their coaching staff change is to get the best out of the players they already have.  In some cases when the system of a team is bad it doesn’t matter who is playing in it.  That might be a huge clue as to why Fletcher did not make a huge trade at the deadline last season, he thought the system and culture of the Wild was not right and any player brought in would be a victim of it.

Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; The Minnesota Wild celebrate following a Stadium Series hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; The Minnesota Wild celebrate following a Stadium Series hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Fast-forward to this offseason and you find that the Wild will have more room than normal under the salary cap, but that number might see a serious dent if the rumors of a flat cap come true.  That means the big game hunting that many want the Wild to do on the free-agent market will not be possible (unless Vanek is bought out).

Sure there’s highly talented forwards to be traded for, but more and more the indications are that the price tags for them are higher than expected.  One thing that could help is the impending expansion draft next offseason would give teams motivation to move players they don’t think they can protect.  Still the Wild’s road to a trade might be a rocky one with a different ending than many think.

Today at Chuck Fletcher’s annual draft luncheon it’s reported by Michael Rand of the Star Tribune that the Wild will be aggressively perusing trades if the right players are available.  Additionally, Fletcher was quoted as saying “Everything has to be on the table coming off the season we just had” suggesting that he’s looking at options for players but you have to ask yourself what those options are.  Bottom line does Fletcher have the assets to make a big move?   The rhetoric sounds good, but will it be good in practice?

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So with little wiggle room do the Wild make the radical changes suggested by the fans, media, and in many cases myself?  They may not feel like they need to.  The retooling of the coaching staff might be the biggest move we see all offseason, because it could be the key that wakes the obviously talented Wild lineup from their slumber.   That might be the only edge the Wild need to achieve the consistent winning the club craves.