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 a goal-scoring machine? That could be their future, based on their new coach.
The Wild hired Bruce Boudreau on May 7, a week and a half after he was fired by the Anaheim Ducks. Boudreau preaches an up-tempo, attacking style, and his teams frequently have been among the League leaders in scoring, ranking in the top 11 in the NHL in goals per game five times in his seven full seasons as coach.
Over the past three seasons, the Wild averaged 2.60 goals per game, 22nd in the NHL; under Boudreau, the Ducks averaged 2.87, fifth in the League.
Boudreau is flexible, though, as seen with the Ducks last season. They struggled badly at the start and couldn't consistently generate offense, so he changed the focus to make Anaheim more defensive-oriented and tough to play against, and the result was a division title.
"We were aggressively in your face," Boudreau told the Wild website. "People want to say that I'm an offensive-minded coach, but I was an offensive-minded player. You look at the team and assess what their strengths are, and play according to their strengths."
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said he also believes the way Boudreau communicates with his players will make them better.
"Bruce has that ability to convince the players, to get the players, to encourage the players, to prod the players to execute on a consistent basis," he said. "If we do that, we're a good hockey team and can even become very good."
What also could make them better is a rejuvenated Eric Staal, who signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract July 1, and a healthy season from forward Zach Parise and defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Here is what the Wild look like today:
KEY ARRIVALS: Bruce Boudreau, coach: His Stanley Cup Playoff record is spotty (five series wins in eight years), but his regular-season success is indisputable: In seven full seasons with the Washington Capitals and Ducks, Boudreau won seven division titles. … Eric Staal, C: His numbers last season with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers (13 goals, 26 assists in 83 games) were his worst since his rookie season in 2003-04, but the 31-year-old remains a strong possession-driver; his plus-239 shot attempts was 26th in the League. … Chris Stewart, RW: The bruising forward agreed to return to Minnesota on a two-year, $2.3 million contract. He had 20 points in 56 games with the Ducks last season but has scored at least 15 goals five times and had 11 points in 20 games with the Wild in 2014-15. … Alex Stalock, G: The 28-year-old likely will start the season with Iowa of the American Hockey League and provide experienced NHL depth if starter Devan Dubnyk or backup Darcy Kuemper is injured. Stalock, who agreed to a one-year, two-way contract, had a 2.94 goals-against average in 13 games with the San Jose Sharks but spent most of last season in the AHL. … Victor Bartley, D: The 28-year-old defenseman agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way contract. He played 10 games last season with the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens, and will provide depth in the AHL.
Video: FLA@ANA: Stewart tallies power-play goal on Luongo
KEY DEPARTURES: John Torchetti, coach: Torchetti was not brought back after the Wild lost to the Dallas Stars in six games in the Western Conference First Round. He replaced Mike Yeo on Feb. 13 and guided the Wild to a 15-11-1 record and the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. He was hired as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings on June 9. … Thomas Vanek, LW: The Wild bought out the final season of Vanek's contract after he had 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) in 74 games last season. He signed with the Red Wings. … Ryan Carter, LW: The fourth-line forward had 12 points in 60 regular-season games and played in two playoff games. He is an unrestricted free agent. … David Jones, RW: The veteran forward had two goals in 16 regular-season games with the Wild after being acquired in a trade with Calgary Flames on Feb. 29. He had one assist in six playoff games and is an unrestricted free agent. … Jarret Stoll, C: The 34-year-old was second among Wild forwards in shorthanded ice time per game at 1:41. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Chris Porter, LW: The fourth-line forward had four goals and three assists in 61 regular-season games and one goal in six playoff games. He is an unrestricted free agent.
ON THE CUSP: Alex Tuch, RW: The 18th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft signed with the Wild in April after his sophomore season at Boston College. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound forward had 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 40 games last season, and his size and skill set could make him a candidate for the opening-night roster. He also could start the season in a top-line role in the AHL. … Gustav Olofsson, D: The 21-year-old made his NHL debut last season, playing two regular-season games, and also had 17 points in 52 games with Iowa. A crowded defense makes another AHL season likely, but he'll get a long look in training camp.
WHAT THEY STILL NEED: More offense. The Wild were 18th in the League in goals last season and rotated lines frequently to try to find a spark. Boudreau's system could help. In his seven full seasons as a coach, his teams have averaged 3.04 goals per game, and never less than 2.62. In 15 seasons, the Wild have scored more than 2.62 goals per game four times, with a high of 2.77 in 2014-15. Under Boudreau, the forwards should be freed up to use their talent and creativity more. … Health and consistency from some key players also will help. A back injury kept Parise, their leading goal scorer, out for the last week of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs. Brodin missed a month with a broken foot sustained Feb. 4 and had four points in 24 regular-season and playoff games when he got back. Forwards Jason Pominville and Jason Zucker need bounce-back seasons, and Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter need to show they can be consistent 20-goal scorers.
Video: CAR@MIN: Zucker collects puck, fires it past Ward
PETE JENSEN'S FANTASY FOCUS: Staal played mostly third-line minutes with the Rangers after he was traded by the Hurricanes and didn't come close to meeting fantasy expectations. But will he play with Parise on his wing? Staal also has a chance to give the Wild's top-six forward group a fresh look and contribute on the power play as well. Mikko Koivu, who plays on the second line and first power-play unit, is the safer bet among Wild centers this season, but Staal has bounce-back potential and is a threat for at least 50 points, 15 power-play points and 200 shots on goal. Boudreau could revamp the lineup, and the results could benefit Staal.
Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Jason Zucker
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Kurtis Gabriel - Tyler Graovac - Chris Stewart
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin
Mike Reilly - Matt Dumba