Gone Wild: Reasons for optimism for the upcoming season

It’s time for this week’s “Gone Wild” our weekly mailbag here on Gone Puck Wild. This week we received four questions, but one of them was already answered due to the roster already being trimmed down. Lets get down to business and  once again thanks for those questions!

I can’t speak for anybody else, but most of the national media outlets have them finishing last in the central division. The central division is loaded and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this team finish last in the division. However, I think the Wild will be in contention for a playoff spot until the very end. I’m with you, I think they could end up surprising a lot of people.

First of all, welcome to Minnesota! I hope things are going well for you in the land of 10,000 lakes. Now to your question.

To me there are a lot of things to be excited about for the upcoming season. The return of Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu. The train went off the rails last season when they lost Dumba for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle. The Wild had a record of 17-13-2 at the time of his injury. Following his injury, they went 20-23-7.

Then you have Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman, the two free agent signings former general manager, Paul Fenton signed before he got his walking papers. Zuccarello is the highest scoring Norwegian in NHL history and is going to be quite the playmaker for the Wild. The potential line of Parise, Ryan Donato and Zuccarello is reason enough to tune in.

Hartman, the former first-round pick spent this past season with the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. He finished the season with 12 goals and 14 assists. The 24-year-old is described as a player who can get underneath the opponent’s skin. He’s made a strong impression thus far in the preseason and training camp.

Still not intrigued? Well maybe the young core of Donato, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin will entice you. All four of those youngsters are primed to enjoy breakout seasons and could help push the Wild back into the playoffs.

At this point the Wild would take just about anything to shed themselves of Victor Rask. The issue is Rask and his contract. He currently has three years remaining on his six year, $24 million contract. I can’t imagine too many teams are knocking down the door to acquire the former second round pick.

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