Despite replacing defensive-minded coach Jacques Lemaire with Todd Richards, the Wild scored their least amount of goals since the lockout–with their 219 markers topping only Edmonton, Columbus and Calgary in the West. As such, there are not many players who provided fantasy value.
Mikko Koivu had his second straight good season, recording 71 points and 28 PP. Next season is a contract year for the 27 year old Finn, so expect him to push 75 points. Koivu was pretty much where the good news ended.
The man brought in to replace Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, was a total disapointment. After 22 games, he was already -17 and had only recorded 11 points. Following this rough patch, he actually put up pretty good numbers for the remainder of the year, which bodes well for next season.
The other player to watch is Guillaume Latendresse, who came over in an early season trade with Montreal. He notched 25 goals in 55 games in Minny thanks to an 18.8% shooting percentage, so don’t expect him to replicate these numbers. Other notables are Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen, neither of whom should be counted on for anything more than spot starts.
Despite a -16 rating, blueliner Marek Zidlicky provided some value thanks to his 43 points, including 24 on the PP. He is -28 during his two seasons in Minnesota, so you know you’ll have to swallow some poor performances in this catego if you want his 40 points on your blueline.
The other main option on defence is Brent Burns. Burns had a very solid season in 2007-08 when he recorded 43 points, but since then has not been able to stay healthy or score at the same pace. That being said, he does have the pedigree and is worth a flier on draft day, but be prepared to cut him loose quickly.
Other than that, it would appear that Cam Barker is the only other viable option. He scored 7 points in 19 games while adjusting to the new system, but should be better next year with a full off-season and training camp to gel. He won’t put up 40 points in 68 games like he did in Chicago, but should be worth a roster spot.
After receiving a big four-year extension, goaltender Niklas Backstrom rewarded the Wild with by far the worst season of his NHL career. His GAA jumped by .39 and his SV% dropped by .020. This may simply have been an off-year, but it also could have been that he did not have Lemaire’s system protecting him for the first time. Personally, I would limit by risk and stay away from him on draft day.
On the Bench:
New coach Todd Richards attempted to implement an offensive and aggressive system. His results were lackluster as the Wild failed to score and proved to be too unskilled and agile to actually carry-out their orders. Give him another year and see what he can do with a hopefully improved roster. As it stands the Wild will continue to remain on the outside looking in.
The Bottom Line:
The season was definitely a failure for the Wild as they finished in 13th place in their first season under a new head coach. There was very little fantasy value to be found, and it appears to be the same next year. However, the team itself my fare better if they can tighten up defensively. The Wild have very little money coming off the books, so they will be forced to re-tool internally or dig deep in the bargain barrel for quality free agents.