3. Cliff Ronning
OK Wild fans, time to go way back to the 2002-2003 season (half of the online bloggers and podcasters were still in diapers at this time), and before analytics were the focal point in analysis (sorry stat guy).
The team’s third year in existence, the Wild’s only trip to the Western Conference Finals. If not for Anaheim goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère, the Wild would have most likely played New Jersey in what would have been one of the most boring Stanley Cup Final ever (think neutral zone trap vs Jacques Lemaire coached team).
That does not take away what the team had accomplished or what Cliff Ronning brought to the club that season.
At 36 years old, Ronning was second on the team in scoring (second to Marian Gaborik) with a 17-31-48 stat line. Considering the team was coached by Jacques Lemaire, and was a defense first team, these number are impressive.
Ronning also chipped in nine points in 17 playoff games. His leadership was evident on the ice and he brought Stanley Cup playoff/Final experience to the locker room. I will always remember Ronning centering Pavel Bure in Vancouver and almost winning the Cup in 1994, but his time with the Wild truly puts him in the one hit wonder category.
Great guy, fun to watch, and helped the team get “oh so close” to the greatest trophy in sports.