The date was July 4th, 2012, it’s quite possibly one of the more exciting days in the history of the Minnesota Wild. The Wild front office excited their fans with the signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year, $98 million contracts.
Parise, the hometown kid was the top free agent on the market that summer and Suter was the top defenseman on the market. The signings had Wild fans everywhere dreaming of the Stanley Cup coming to The State of Hockey.
Well, the Wild and their fans are seven years in to the Parise and Suter era and there is still no Stanley Cup. There have been six playoff appearances and if it weren’t for the Chicago Blackhawks the Parise and Suter era could be looked at in a different light. But, that topic is for another article at a later date.
When Parise and Suter signed their names on the dotted line to play for the Wild, they did so with the goal of winning a Stanley Cup. That goal is in serious jeopardy.
When the Wild hire the fourth general manager in team history that individual could very easily decide to tear it all down. The case can be made for the Wild to go into a full on rebuild. The current core already went through massive changes this past season when then general manager, Paul Fenton traded away Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. Why wouldn’t the new general manager come in and finish what Fenton started?
The issue is the Wild don’t have a lot of attractive assets to enter into a full on rebuild. The most attractive asset the Wild have at their disposal is defenseman, Jared Spurgeon. Jason Zucker’s stock is low after a down season in 2018-2019. They could try and move Parise and his contract, but any return they would get for him would be minimal due to his contract.There is no denying that the current roster needs tweaking, but it doesn’t need a full tear down.
People forget that the Wild were 17-13-2 before defenseman, Matt Dumba suffered a torn pectoral muscle that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. They then suffered another major blow when captain, Mikko Koivu suffered a torn ACL on Feb. 6. At that point the Wild were 29-19-5 and the owner of the second Wild Card spot.
Getting Dumba, one of the best two-way defenseman will be a big boost for the Wild. If Koivu returns healthy it will be another shot in the arm for the Wild roster.
Parise proved last year that he can still play at a high level. His goals (28) and points (61) were the highest since 2014-2015. If he can stay healthy there is no doubt that he’ll post similar numbers this season.
Last season Suter was coming off a serious ankle injury and got off to a slow start. It’s not out of the question for Suter to put up numbers similar to the ones he posted in 2017-2018 when he posted a career-high in assists (45).
Zucker and Eric Staal are candidates for bounce back seasons. Staal’s 22 goals and 52 points were the lowest of his Wild tenure. Zucker had a career year in 2017-2018, scoring 33 goals and registering 64 points. This past season, with trade rumors swirling, Zucker scored 21 goals and finished with 42 points.
Pairing both Zucker and Staal with a player like Mats Zuccarello, who can create for both of them could have Staal and Zucker in store for bounce back seasons. It’s not out of the question to expect Staal to score 30 goals and have another season of 30 or more assists. If healthy there is no question Zucker will a season more on par with his 2017-2018 performance.
To go along with the veterans on the roster the Wild have a group of young talent that have gobs of potential. When thinking about players that are in store for a breakout season for the Wild, Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala top the list.
In 22 games with the Wild, Donato finished with 16 points. He scored four goals, recorded 12 assists and had 64 shots on goal.
Fiala was more up and down, but he flashed at certain points last year that lead one to believe that he could be in store for more this season. In those 19 games with the Wild, Fiala finished with seven points, scoring three goals and recording four assists. His best game came against his former team in Nashville. In his first game in Nashville as a member of the Wild, Fiala scored two goals.
With the season less then two months away the new general manager likely won’t make any major moves, if any moves. His first moves will likely occur at the deadline and if the Wild are in contention it’s not likely that he’ll pull the plug on the current roster. In essence the Wild players in a way control their own fate. Buckle up, it’s going to be an interesting and entertaining season Wild fans.