In this article we will provide a full offseason analysis, highlighted by in-depth player analysis on newcomers and outgoers. The Wild’s backend, center depth, and final standings predictions.
Minnesota Wild fans know one thing for sure — it has been a very wild offseason.
No pun intended. But in all seriousness, Wild general manager Bill Guerin has certainly laid his fingerprint on this team for now and for the future.
After battling a long seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights the Wild were eventually eliminated in heartbreak type fashion, highlighted by Golden Knights Mattias Janmark’s hat-trick.
In’s and out’s
As the offseason approached, the majority of Wild fans thought the only two subtractions on this Wild’s roster would be Marcus Johansson to free agency, and Carson Soucy to the expansion team of the Seattle Kracken. There also was the possibility of Nick Bonino leaving through free agency as well.
I can speak for most fans, the buying out of longtime Minnesota Wild leaders Ryan Suter and Minnesota-grown Zach Parise came as a little surprise. Zach Parise son of North Stars J.P. Parise, had a bit of a disconnect with the Wild following a very frustrating season which saw him a healthy scratch for quite a period of time, even for three games in the playoffs.
Let’s get into the ins and the outs of this team shall we?
Alex Goligoski, Jon Merrill, Jordie Benn, Frederick Gaudreau, Dmitry Kulikov, Joe Hicketts, Jon Lizotte, and Dominic Turgeon.
Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Carson Soucy, Ian Cole, Brad Hunt, Luke Johnson, Nick Bonino, Marcus Johansson, Gerald Mayhew, Brennan Menell, Matt Bartkowski, and Hunter Warner.
Now lets look at the analytics of these moves and examine if helped or hurt this team for the 2021-2022 season. Guerin brought in four NHL defensemen, and a forward, two AHL defensemen and a forward.
That was all to replace four NHL defensemen and five forwards, two AHL defenders and one defensive prospect.
Goligoski is a pretty solid replacement for Ryan Suter. The signings of Kulikov and Merrill are upgrades over Ian Cole.
Soucy on the other hand was a big loss. He was fifth in the NHL in GA/60 last season for defensemen and was one of the better defensive defensemen in the whole league.
That being said Jon Merrill is a very solid stay-at-home defender, which in a sense is what Ian Cole was. Believe it or not but both Merrill and Dmitry Kulikov were in the top 25 defenders in xGA/60 during the 2021-2022 season. Merrill was 8th in the NHL and Kulikov 22nd in the NHL one spot ahead of Wild captain Jared Spurgeon.
Is that saying Kulikov is better defensively than Spurgeon?
No, not at all. Kulikov had a surprising season last year, a season he hasn’t really come close to in his 12-year career. Whether that be him benefiting from the shortened season or not, it will be interesting to see how he does this year.
In total the wild lost 4.4 WAR (Wins above replacement) points and 24.8 GAR (Goals above replacement) They added 5.0 WAR (0.6 differential) and 31 GAR (6.2 differential), so overall not a bad off-season.
Minnesota Wild:2021-2022 Predictions
The 2020-2021 Wild ranked 8th in the NHL in GF with 180 and 15th in the NHL in GA with 159 in the 56 game season.
Using evolving hockey’s skater tables and mostly using the ixGF stat along with xGA/60 and xGA, I have constructed equations to calculate the performance of the 2021-2022 Wild roster. With all the newcomers and outgoers it was a bit tricky but here are the numbers.
266 GF (6th-8th in the NHL)
210 GA (8th-10th in the NHL)
.636 Win% (7th-9th in the NHL)
99-105 Points (5th-8th in the NHL)
Now just to clarify these are predictions based on analytics, each player on the roster most likely won’t play all 82 games.
For the majority of the players, I scaled it to 82 game season. Players like Boldy, Rossi, Addison, Benn, Kulikov, and Merrill, we don’t know exactly their role with the team and how many games they might play.
For guys like Jordie Benn and Calen Addison, I gave them roughly 11-21 games played on the year. For guys like Merrill and Kulikov, I gave them a range of 61-71 games played, barring injuries and lineup changes for the Addisons and Benns of the world.
From the looks of it, each team obviously plans to play 82 games played but the possibility of COVID-19 could shut a team down for a week or two which could change the complexion of the stats listed above.
That being said, take each stat that was given to you with a grain of salt. Hockey is random sometimes and things can happen.
I don’t want to contradict myself but those are the final predictions I have for the 2021-2022 Wild team based on what analytics say.