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Young Wild Reflects, Looks To Future

by Kelly Erickson / Minnesota Wild

If he remembers correctly, Wild forward Charlie Coyle separated his second shoulder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on his first shift of Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The first was injured during Game 4 of the First Round against the Colorado Avalanche. Sure, there was discomfort, but he played through it — just as any guy on the team would have.

“You’re always banged up and you just fight through it for your team,” Coyle said. “Everyone’s doing that. Every guy was doing that. You just don’t think about it and just go with the flow.

“Any guy would fight through anything. We’ve got great guys on this team willing to do anything. It was no problem there.”

Coyle added that he won’t need surgery to repair either shoulder, just a bit of rest.

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Just a few days after Game 6 and that unforgettable bounce in overtime that ended the Wild’s season, the wounds are starting to scar over and the team is already beginning to look forward to next season.

Whether it’s getting stronger, improving skating technique or working on establishing consistency in one’s game, each player has a to-do list this summer. All included something they hope to carry over or improve upon for the 2014-15 campaign.

A key component in the Wild’s run this year and going forward is the development of its young players. Charlie Coyle, 22, Justin Fontaine, 26, Mikael Granlund, 22, Erik Haula, 23, Nino Niederreiter, 21, Jonas Brodin, 20, Marco Scandella, 24, and Jared Spurgeon, 24, stepped up in times of need this season.

But they also pushed one another along, willing one another to get stronger — something that paid dividends in the playoffs, as each raised their game.

“Each one of the young guys, we pushed each other to get better and I think that helped a lot over the course of the year,” Niederreiter said. “Each one of us played in all different kinds of situations. When somebody was hurt, there was always a young guy who had the chance to step up his game and try to perform at that level. I feel like that was good to be a part of.”

At the end of the postseason, Niederreiter was working with Coyle and Mikko Koivu on one of the top lines. Forming a big, physical line, the 21-year-old noted that that consistent taste of playing in a top six role set his goal for next season.

“I will do everything it takes to be in that spot next year,” Niederreiter said. “I feel like it’s great motivation to push myself this summer.”

He isn’t the only one with renewed motivation. After pushing its way into the Second Round and going toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Wild isn’t satisfied with an early exit.

They showed what they’re capable of, but know they can do more.

“We were right there,” Coyle said “We loved our team this year. It’s a shame the way it ended but that’s how it goes. Chicago is a great team but we definitely took a lot of strides this year. We’re not satisfied. That wasn’t our main goal. We took strides from last year. That’s something to be happy about but we want more next year. Everyone knows that we’re capable of giving more and accomplishing more.

“It could be a good one next year if we really want it.”

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