With the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season beginning on Thursday with a game against the Avalanche in Colorado, Wild.com is breaking down different elements of the team entering the season.
Read part 1 of the preview: Forwards
Read part 2 of the preview: Defensemen
Read part 3 of the preview: Goalies
Read part 4 of the preview: Special Teams
With a roster comprised of mostly the same pieces, the Wild will look for younger players to continue to develop and increase their contributions.
Matt Dumba (21 years old), Jonas Brodin and Nino Niederreiter (22), and Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle (23) make up a young core that has already shown tangible influences, and has the potential to take their game—and the team—to the next level.
This group of six players also went from playing in a combined 327 games in 2013-14 to 409 games this past season. Their point production rose from 133 to 170.
The Wild find itself in the middle of the cutthroat Central Division. It features the likes of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks; a St. Louis Blues team that has made the playoffs four consecutive seasons; a Nashville Predators squad that earned 104 points last season; a young Winnipeg Jets roster that just made the playoffs; and a re-tooled Dallas Stars team that had one of the best offseasons in hockey after just missing the 2015 playoffs.
"You're always paying attention to that," Zucker said. "There a lot of good teams, it's a stacked division, and we're going to have to play our best game every night.
"We'll be playing those guys, and those are the points that you need to steal, and need to get, and make sure that we're playing hard in our division."
Making The Jump Features