Alex Tuch (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Did Devan Dubnyk’s freakishly good performance mask a few team needs? The Wild’s good young forwards have blended nicely with their vets, and their blue-chip blueliners have improved, but they still have some flaws to address at the draft and in free agency.
The Wild’s immediate future is tough to project after an odd season in which goalie Devan Dubnyk’s freakishly good performance carried them to the playoffs. Did that feel-good story mask a few team needs? The Wild’s good young forwards have blended nicely with their vets, and their blue-chip blueliners have improved, but they still have some flaws to address at the draft and in free agency.
Round 1, pick 20
Round 2, pick 50
Round 4, pick 111
Round 6, pick 171
Round 7, picks 201, 204
Jonas Brodin has emerged as a defensive pillar, and 2012 first-rounder Mathew Dumba made an impressive jump to full-time NHL duty, but Minny could use a physical, top-four veteran blueliner to take pressure off Ryan Suter. Many of the Wild’s checking forwards are UFAs this summer, so GM Chuck Fletcher must re-sign or replenish bodies for his bottom six.
The Wild will likely sign Dubnyk to a long-term deal, putting goalie development on the back burner. A big center suited to the Western Conference game would help a lot. Mikko Koivu’s production has declined as he hits his early 30s, and Mikael Granlund, though a promising talent, brings finesse instead of muscle.
Fletcher has lots of work ahead of him on top of re-upping UFA Dubnyk. Granlund and checking center Erik Haula are RFAs. With Dumba’s entry-level deal ending next year, Fletcher must squirrel away a lot of cash for that quartet. Minnesota is positioned for another massive free agent splash in the vein of Suter, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
The Wild would love to see big, mobile Gustav Olofsson soon, but shoulder surgery held back his AHL development. He needs another year. Watch for pivot Tyler Graovac. He led the Iowa Wild in scoring and is the organization’s most improved player, says Fletcher.
DID YOU KNOW:
Power forward Alex Tuch is the Wild’s top-ranked prospect in Future Watch, and they have his Boston College center, too. Adam Gilmour went 98th overall in 2012 and is Minnesota’s No. 6 prospect.