Minnesota Wild Regular Season Review Finale: The Sweet Sixteen

Minnesota Wild, Jared Spurgeon. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild, Jared Spurgeon. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Today we wrap up the review for the Regular Season Review. We round out the final sixteen individual performances and put a cap on the series.

After a tough loss to the Vancouver Canucks in game four, it is officially the offseason for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild will select 9th overall, which is the first top-10 pick in eight years.

It is time to wrap up the regular season review. If you missed it, I already did an article on the following players on their regular season — Greg Pateryn, Devan Dubnyk, Victor Rask, Mats Zuccarello, Mikko Koivu, and Alex Stalock. The players listed in that group are the players who had the worst individual performances this season.

Note: The Qualifying Round has no impact on the following rankings. The following players are listed in order from having the best seasons to the players who had the worst season. Contributor Brandon Quast and Site-Expert Lake Martin both helped create these accurate rankings.

Brad Hunt – #16

— Hunt recorded 8 goals, 11 assists for 19 points. As well as Galchenyuk, he had an awful postseason. If he doesn’t get moved in the offseason, he will likely be traded at the deadline next spring since he is days away from 32 and with a single year left on his contract.

Alex Galchenyuk – #15

— Galchenyuk was acquired in the trade that sent Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh to balance the Cap Hit in the trade. Since we only saw a sample size in the regular season, it is hard not to bring up his awful play in the qualifying round against the Vancouver Canucks. He likely will not be given a contract extension, unless he’s the last resort.

Ryan Hartman – #14

— Hartman had a great season, he was acquired as a free agent under former General Manager Paul Fenton. He provided the Wild with secondary scoring, a physical presence, and grit. Overall, a good year for Hartman.

Ryan Donato – #13

— I don’t know where to start. Donato was acquired in the trade that shipped Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins. He has been a strong player in which he scored 14 goals yet still found himself in the press box or a fourth-line role.

He is one of the biggest questions this offseason that has to be addressed. He has fell victim to the Wild’s winger depth, which may be why he has to be moved despite being one of the most productive players with limited ice time.

Matt Dumba – #12

— Dumba is one year removed from leading the NHL in goals before his season-ending injury that required surgery. Unfortunately, he did not pick up from where he ended.

He struggled all season and never really looked like the dynamic sharp shooting defenseman that signed a five-year contract extension back in 2017-18. He recorded 6 goals, 18 assists for 24 points in 69 games.

Luke Kunin – #11

— Kunin contributed 15 goals, 16 assists for 31 points this season. It appears on the surface that he had a positive impact. There is no doubt the 22-year-old is still developing and his goals were helpful for an ill-equipped roster when it comes to shooting talent.

Overall, he was dismal defensively and his underlying offensive metrics didn’t match his goal scoring. He was last on the Wild in terms of Wins Above Replacement, he provided negative value. If he can fine-tune some of the minor parts of his game, he could soar.

Joel Eriksson Ek – #10

— Only Marcus Foligno was better defensively than Eriksson Ek this season. JEE, known as an agitator and an uncanny ability to get under opposing players’ skin, took a major step forward in his development. He recorded career highs in goals (8), assists (21), and thereby points (29).

Often overlooked because of his lack of offensive production, he is incredibly valuable which is supported by his underlying metrics. He is already one of the best defensive centers in the NHL. Being a true second-line center may be a mismatch for JEE, but maybe he develops some scoring? Otherwise, he’ll still be a nails defensive forward.

Eric Staal – #9

— Staal took a step back, easily can be correlated to his age, but he didn’t experience regression by any means. He recorded 19 goals, 28 assists for 47 points in 66 games. He led the Wild in Goals For per 60 and was 6th in Wins Above Replacement. He didn’t have a strong season defensively but still provided positive value.

Ryan Suter – #8

— Suter, a minute munching defenseman, had a career year in terms of point production. Due to the pause, Suter didn’t officially have a career-high but his 8 goals, 40 assists for 48 points were on pace to surpass his current high in those respective categories. His underlying defensive metrics were not to par but still had a productive season.

Carson Soucy – #7

— Soucy had a great training camp that landed him on the third-pairing to start the season- also due to Greg Pateryn being injured to start the year. He defied all expectations and had an incredible rookie season. He led the Wild in goals against per 60.

He will need an extension this offseason and he qualifies as a Group 6 UFA, so he does have the ability to sign with any team. Site Expert Lake Martin pointed out that he’s stated that he has enjoyed playing with the Wild, but maybe he gets lured away elsewhere? Edmonton comes to mind, only 90 minutes away from his hometown Viking, Canada.

Jordan Greenway – #6

— Greenway has been underwhelming, more due to the fact that there are high expectations and he has failed to meet them. His underlying metrics support his positive impact but has failed to make a difference in the scoresheet. He finished the season with 8 goals, 20 assists for 28 points in 67 games. He had a career-high in hits with 95 but needs to display his physical presence more aggressively.

NOTE: When the rankings and grades were calculated, it was well before the Play-In round and had the recency bias of his performance leading into the Pandemic Pause. A more realistic ranking has him in the -teens.

Jonas Brodin – #5

— Brodin, one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL, was fantastic. He was the best defensive player this season for the Wild and provided immense value, which is supported by ranking third for the Wild in Wins Above Replacement. His 28 points were a career-high. His mobility, defensive awareness, and unbelievable skating are all areas which he has excelled in.

Marcus Foligno – #4

— Not only did Foligno have his best season in his time with the Wild but had a career year. He notched 11 goals, 14 assists for 25 points in just 59 games. He was on pace to have his best hitting season with the Wild as well. The hard-nosed winger has one year left on his contract and will be looking for an extension. He also has a legitimate chance to fill the shoes of Mikko Koivu as the next Wild captain.

Zach Parise – #3

— Aside from Fiala, Parise was once again the Wild’s best goal-scorer. He recorded 25 goals, 21 assists for 46 points in 69 games. He was involved in trade speculation with the New York Islanders after he waived his NMC, the deal eventually fell apart. His tenacity, work ethic, and his net-front presence (tipping pucks and hammering home rebounds) are his main fortes that were exemplified this season.

Kevin Fiala – #2

— After a slow start to the season, Fiala emerged into a game-breaker that he was once described as by former General Manager Paul Fenton. He finished the season with 23 goals, 31 assists for 54 points. His career-highs in assists and points were recorded in 64 games. He was the best player since the New Year and was the pinnacle of the Wild’s season.

Jared Spurgeon – #1

— The elite first-pairing defenseman notched 12 goals and 32 points in 62 games played. Spurgeon was easily the Wild’s most valuable player over the course of the entire regular season. He ranked second in Goals For per 60, first in Expected Goals For per 60, third in Expected Goals Against, first in Corsi For and fourth in Corsi Against. He ranked 11th among all NHL defensemen in Wins Above Replacement which takes into account all aspects of the game.

That wraps up our regular season review for the Minnesota Wild. Is there anyone you felt was misranked? Who do you think makes significant strides next year? Does Jared Spurgeon repeat as the best Minnesota Wild Player next year? Leave a comment down below or message us on Twitter or Facebook.

All Data Via Evolving-Hockey & Hockey-Reference