With the Regular Season officially concluded, let’s review some of the milestones accomplished by Minnesota Wild players this year!
While it was a roller coaster of a year for the Minnesota Wild (remember when I finally gave in and said the Wild should rebuild?), a lot of players achieved incredible milestones. The Young Players had great seasons, a new record high contract (in terms of AAV) was signed, and it felt like a veteran passed a milestone every other week. Let’s walk through some of those milestones
Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu all achieve Career Milestones
We’re going to cheat on this first one because these vets all deserve to have their career accomplishments highlighted.
Also, it’s our list, so we can bend the rules a bit.
The Wild organization gave out a lot of hardware this year. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise both surpassed One Thousand National Hockey League Games earning themselves Silver Sticks and Tiffany Crystals and Eric Staal surpassed One Thousand Points in the NHL earning himself a Gold Stick and a Tiffany Crystal. The Tiffany Crystal can be emblematic of different accomplishments in the NHL and is gifted by the NHL, but the Silver and Gold Sticks come from the Team.
Mikko Koivu also scored his 700th career point and 500th assist this season. Parise, Staal, and Suter are just short of different milestones: Parise is 8pts shy of 800, Suter is 12pts shy of 600, Parise is 14 goals short of 400, Suter is 10 short of 100 goals. Staal is 15 assists short of 600, Suter is 2 assists short of 500.
Here are the links to the Ceremonies:
Spurgeon Inks Extension, Highest AAV Franchise Player, First Hat Trick
More from Gone Puck Wild
During the offseason, there were reports that former General Manager Paul Fenton and Jared Spurgeon’s Camp had barely begun extension negotiations. There was concern that Fenton would allow for other defensemen to set the price for what an extension would cost for Spurgeon, often described as the Biggest Success Story in Wild History.
Then Paul Fenton was let go after one year, Bill Guerin was brought in, and in the middle of Training Camp, the two came to terms.
Spurgeon’s $7.575M per year just etches out Parise and Suter’s identical $7.538M per year for the highest AAV in Franchise history. Having him for the foreseeable future has made some wonder if he could become the next captain after Mikko Koivu.
Later in the season, Jared Spurgeon would score his first career hat trick against his hometown Edmonton Oilers on the Wild Dad’s Trip.
It’s been a phenomenal year for the first pair defenseman. Just two goals short of a new career-high in goals and nine assists short of his career-high in assists. Can’t wait to see what he can do for the Wild in this postseason run.
Before we dive into our final milestone accomplished by a Minnesota Wild player, we’ll do a quick-hit of accomplishments achieved by other Wild players.
Alex Stalock achieved a career-high in Games Started (36) and Wins (20).
Ryan Suter was having a career year, about to set highs in points, goals, and potentially assists. Played in every game this year too.
Carson Soucy played his first full season in the NHL
Luke Kunin, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno all established new highs for points in the season.
Ryan Donato set a career-high for Goals, on track to surpass his season-high point total, with several healthy scratches and reduced avg ice time.
Gerry Mayhew scored his first Career Goal, Nico Sturm recorded his first Career Point.
Kaapo Kahkonen recorded his first Career Win.
Ok, you might be asking, Hey aren’t you forgetting about a Swiss Guy who wears #22?
No. No, I didn’t.
Kevin Fiala, Game-Breaker
So. We might owe Paul Fenton a bit of an apology for the ridicule he got for the Granlund-Fiala trade. At the time, one for one looked dubious. Granlund had much more experience and proven skill, Fiala had flashes but also a major injury. A pick could have been a part of the package with Fiala, but hindsight is 20/20 and the deal looks to have worked out well for both sides.
Kevin Fiala started slow, but after a rather soft/fluky goal against the Blues, he turned it on. Career-high in points this year (54), tied his career-high in goals and a new high in assists, and ultimately led the team in points. Hard to imagine he was a healthy scratch at one point, but he learned from it. Right after, he began to play well and get in a groove. Because of his play, he spent most of his season on the top line with Eric Staal and Zach Parise.
Fiala also has done something rather unique this year. He’s become a player that generates excitement anytime he touches the puck, which we haven’t seen since Marian Gaborik. It should be rather telling when Fiala holds three of the ten spots for top plays of the season, as determined by the official NHL YouTube Channel.
Kevin Fiala’s breakout has been truly remarkable to watch and we cannot wait for it to continue into the postseason. And not to toot my own horn, but during the preseason I projected Kevin Fiala to have 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 points. In the 69 games the Wild played this year, Kevin Fiala played in 64 games with 23 goals and 31 assists.
It’s been a busy season for the Minnesota Wild, lots of milestones for the Veterans, Big Contract for the Minnesota Wild Success Story, and the Game-Breaker took over. What milestones did you feel were important? Did we leave any out? Leave a comment/reply to us on our social @FSGonePuckWild on Twitter or on our Facebook Page
All stats come from Hockey-Reference.com