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Team Reset

Wild bolster offensive depth with Zuccarello, Hartman

Hope new forwards will increase scoring, lead to playoff return

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Minnesota Wild:

The Minnesota Wild have taken steps to address their offensive depth after failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

The Wild, who ranked 27th in the NHL in scoring last season with 210 goals, signed unrestricted free agent forwards Mats Zuccarello (five-year contract) and Ryan Hartman (two-year contract) on July 1.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Zuccarello adds scoring strength along with playoff experience. Hartman provides something the Wild were lacking: a right-handed shot; Minnesota has three.

"Our goal is to get to the playoffs and then go from there," Zuccarello said. "I think from year to year there can be a team that doesn't make the playoffs [that can] almost have the same team and go far in the playoffs the next year. … I think as players and as coaches, we have to create an environment of positivity and believing in ourselves. We didn't make the playoffs last year, but that's our goal this year. And I'm sure if we all come together we're going to have a good chance of making the playoffs."

The additions provide depth with the uncertain return of center Mikko Koivu, who didn't play after Feb. 5 because of a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. Minnesota's captain had surgery and hopes to return for training camp in September.

The Wild also will rely on improvement from forward Jordan Greenway, 22, and centers Luke Kunin, 21, and Ryan Donato, 23; each is expected to make the roster out of training camp and play a significant role this season.

"Greenway, Kunin, Donato are not just fringe players this year," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They're prime-time players, their growth is going to be really good.

"A lot of people are giving up on us on the outside, so you get a chip on your shoulder. I look forward to getting started this year."

Here's what the Wild look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Mats Zuccarello, F: The 31-year-old had 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) in 48 games with the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers last season. Traded to Dallas on Feb. 23, Zuccarello was injured in his first game and had a goal and two assists in two regular-season games. He had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 playoff games. Zuccarello has scored at least 50 points in a season four times in nine NHL seasons and has 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 73 playoff games. … Ryan Hartman, F: After he was traded to the Stars by the Philadelphia Flyers on June 24, Dallas declined to extend a qualifying offer to the 24-year-old, who had 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 83 games with the Flyers and Nashville Predators last season.

Video: Fenton discusses signing Zuccarello and Hartman

 

Key departures

Anthony Bitetto, D: The Wild claimed the 29-year-old off waivers from the Predators on Jan. 25 but opted not to re-sign the unrestricted free agent. Bitetto, who had no points in 18 games with Minnesota, signed a one-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets on July 2. … Pontus Aberg, F: The 25-year-old, acquired by the Wild in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for center Justin Kloos on Jan. 16, had six points (one goal, five assists) in 22 games with Minnesota. He was not tendered a qualifying offer and is a free agent.

 

On the cusp

Gerald Mayhew, F: Minnesota signed the 26-year-old to a two-year, two-way contract May 10 after he led Iowa of the American Hockey League with 27 goals and was second with 60 points. Mayhew had 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in 11 Calder Cup Playoff games.

 

What they still need

An elite goal-scorer. Zuccarello has scored more than 20 goals once, and Donato has the makings to one day fill that role, but the addition of a skilled offensive forward would elevate the Wild.

 

Fantasy focus

Matt Dumba led NHL defensemen in goals (12 in 32 games) on Dec. 15 when he ruptured his right pectoralis muscle, ending his season. Dumba, who played mostly on the first power-play unit when healthy, could benefit from the signing of Zuccarello. Dumba, Minnesota's highest-ranked player in NHL.com's top 250 rankings (No. 103), has unfinished business as an injury bounce-back candidate with a ceiling of being a top 10 fantasy defenseman. -- Pete Jensen

Video: MTL@MIN: Dumba one-times PPG past Niemi in the 2nd

 

Projected lineup

Jason Zucker -- Eric Staal -- Mats Zuccarello

Zach Parise -- Mikko Koivu -- Kevin Fiala

Ryan Donato -- Luke Kunin -- Jordan Greenway

Marcus Foligno -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba

Nick Seeler -- Greg Pateryn

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

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