The Minnesota Wild failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2018-19 when they lost 5-2 at the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Minnesota qualified for the playoffs the previous four seasons but has not reached the second round since 2014-15, when it was swept by the Chicago Blackhawks in four games.

Here’s a look at what happened in the 2023-24 season for the Wild and why things could be better next season.

The skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Jacob Lucchini, F; Alex Goligoski, D; Dakota Mermis, D; Marc-Andre Fleury, G

Potential restricted free agents: Adam Beckman, F; Mason Shaw, F; Sam Hentges, F; Declan Chisholm, D

Potential 2024 Draft picks: 6

What went wrong

Early-season woes: The Wild struggled early and fired Dean Evason as coach Nov. 27 following a seven-game skid (0-5-2), replacing him with John Hynes. At that time, Minnesota was 31st in the NHL in goals-against per game (3.95) and last in penalty-killing percentage (66.7).

Goaltending: The Wild simply weren’t as strong in goal this season as in 2022-23. Filip Gustavsson is 19-18-4 with a 3.11 goals-against average, .898 save percentage and three shutouts in 44 games (42 starts). Those numbers are down compared to last season, his first with Minnesota, when he was 22-9-7 with a 2.10 GAA, .931 save percentage and three shutouts. Marc-Andre Fleury’s numbers this season (17-13-5, 2.87 GAA, .899 save percentage) are comparable to 2022-23, but he’s played eight fewer games.

Special teams: The Wild’s power play has converted on 21.8 percent of its chances (15th in the NHL). Their penalty kill however, has been a different story; Minnesota has allowed 64 goals in 249 short-handed opportunities (74.3 percent), 30th in the NHL.

Reasons for optimism

Kirill’s still the thrill: It’s been another outstanding season for forward Kirill Kaprizov, who leads the Wild with 90 points (42 goals, 48 assists) in 71 games. It’s his third consecutive season with 40 or more goals, a franchise record, and he’s five goals shy of the career high of 47 he set in 2021-22. The 26-year-old is just reaching the prime of his career.

Eriksson Ek dependable again: He may not be the flashiest player, but Joel Eriksson Ek is a strong, reliable two-way forward for the Wild, especially these past two seasons. The 27-year-old has 62 points (30 goals, 32 assists) in 72 games. His goals and points are career highs, and he’s six assists shy of the career-high 38 he had last season. But it’s more than that with Eriksson Ek; he's a tremendous defensive forward and probably should get more Selke Trophy consideration.

Youth movement: The Wild appear to be in good hands for the foreseeable future, led by rookie defenseman Brock Faber (43 points in 78 games) and forward Marco Rossi (38 points in 78 games), and second-year left wing Matt Boldy, who had 63 points in 81 games as a rookie last season and has tied the mark this season in 10 fewer games. But it goes beyond that; center Marat Khusnutdinov made his NHL debut March 14, and goalie Jesper Wallstedt was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Saturday and made 24 saves in a 4-0 win at the Chicago Blackhawks the following day. The 21-year-old was 21-19-3 with a 2.76 GAA, .908 save percentage and two shutouts in 43 games for Iowa this season.