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Wild Outlook and Season Predictions

Todd Varga


blog-0998843001358488597.jpgWild Musings 1/18/2013

Wild Outlook and Season Predictions

An Aside: If this is your first time reading the blog (or if you’re getting reacquainted, after all, it’s been a while) let me explain what it’s all about. First off thank you for taking the time to read. I appreciate it, and encourage you to create dialogue in the comments, and comeback and keep reading. Now, Wild Musings is a blog that focuses on the NHL, with an emphasis on the Minnesota Wild (clever title right?). I will post articles on both the Wild, and the general happenings around the NHL usually at least once a week. Now with that said, it’s good to have the NHL back, and it’s good to be back writing for the Hockeyboards.net readership. Thank you.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2013 NHL Season. Hope everyone is well rested because the next hundred or so days are going to be intense. In this edition of Wild Musings we are going to take a look at expectations and realistic outcomes for the Minnesota Wild, and I’ll give out my season predictions for the divisions and the Stanley Cup at the end, so stay tuned.

The last time we saw the Wild play, they were finishing twelfth in the Western Conference. No wait, it’s worse than that, they were finishing twelfth after starting 2012 as the first seed in the Western Conference, which if you’re wondering, is a historical collapse. It’s important to remember that. Now, were the Wild really the third worst team in the West? No, but that’s what they played to. Were there lots of injuries? They absolutely did. The Wild lost 395 man games last year, and suited up almost 50 different players trying to stop the bleeding. But looking past the injuries; past the Kris Fredheims and the Jeff Penners, the Wild lacked scoring. They were amongst the worst in the league in goals (177), and just about every major offensive category. They were also last in scoring from the blue line (One of the major reasons for that Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz trade). That was the Wild last time we saw them.

Now let’s hit fast forward by say 9 months, and the Wild have become an enigma. The addition of superstar winger Zach Parise, all star defenseman Ryan Suter, and Calder hopeful Mikael Granlund have the hockey world all over the place. I’ve seen people predict the Wild to finish out of the playoffs and fourth in their division (Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy- Yes, I am aware he is a Canucks fan. He is also a very good and intelligent hockey writer), as well as making the playoffs and winning the Western Conference (Barry Melrose of ESPN/NHL Network). I dare say no other team in the league is as spread across the grid as that. Yet strangely, after all the reports out of camp, the Red Vs. White scrimmage that happened on Wednesday, and the look of the Wild line up, I can’t discredit either Mooney or Melrose. I could see it either way. If Mikko Koivu can play to his potential, Parise and Suter are as advertised, and the defense can be a bit more aggressive in the offense (Keep your eyes on Jared Spurgeon folks)- they could be a major player in the West. If Parise and Suter struggle out of the gate, Granlund takes some time to get his legs under him, or the goaltending should struggle- I could see them in the lower half of the West.

With all that said, let’s look at what I stated in the first paragraph: “realistic expectations” for the Wild.

-Can the Wild win the Northwest Division? Could they, Sure. Will they, probably not. The Canucks are still the more complete team (and who knows what a Luongo deal could bring them), and are still the overwhelming favorites to win the Northwest, as they should be.

-Can the Wild make the Playoffs? Yes, and they should. The Wild should give the Canucks a run for their money in the Northwest. The scoring is improved, the defense has matured, Niklas Backstrom is in a contract year, and knows he is auditioning for other teams with Josh Harding recently signed and Matt Hackett waiting in the wings to jump into the NHL (not to mention Backstrom is a notoriously fast starter, which should bode well for 48 games). This team is legitimately three lines deep with a good checking line, and a lot of added depth. With the improvements the Wild have made, the Wild should be in the playoffs.

-Can the Wild make a run at the cup should they get in? As the Kings showed us last year, anything can happen. If the Wild are healthy come playoff time, they could make a run.

Now…. Predictions time. I’ll run through the conference standings, the cup final, and the winner.

Western Conference

1. St. Louis Blues- Central

2. Los Angeles Kings- Pacific

3. Vancouver Canucks- Northwest

4. Phoenix Coyotes

5. Chicago Blackhawks

6. San Jose Sharks

7. Minnesota Wild

8. Detroit Red Wings

9. Nashville Predators

10. Colorado Avalanche

11. Anaheim Ducks

12. Edmonton Oilers

13. Columbus Blue Jackets

14. Dallas Stars

15. Calgary Flames

Eastern Conference

1. New York Rangers- Atlantic

2. Boston Bruins- Northeast

3. Tampa Bay Lightning- Southeast

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. Carolina Hurricanes

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. Ottawa Senators

8. Washington Capitals

9. Buffalo Sabres

10. New Jersey Devils

11. Toronto Maple Leafs

12. Florida Panthers

13. Montreal Canadiens

14. New York Islanders

15. Winnipeg Jets

A couple notes: *The Jets travel is going to be nuts. *The Islanders are building for Brooklyn. *It was really difficult to not put the Sabres in the playoffs. *The Ducks could be the most misplaced team depending on what happens with Perry and Getzlaf. *If the Leafs get Luongo, they would be in my top 8.

My Cup final- Chicago Blackhawks Vs. New York Rangers- Rangers in 7.

Thanks to all who made it this far. Feel free to tear apart my standings (or agree….) and ask questions or what have you in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Todd Varga

Find me on Twitter @Wild_Halo

Also, check out Varga and Shulman present The Box Score Podcast on Itunes or at theboxscore.libsyn.com .We talk all kinds of sports, hockey included, and people seem to like it. On twitter @VandSSports


Recommended Comments

I think the Blues benefited from flying under the radar last year, this year with great expectations and no way possible Halak and Elliott can possibly be as good this year, I have them finishing third, behind the Hawks and Wings. Good luck this year.

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Minny PP looking strong. I'm predicting that the Heatley Koivu Parise line is going to be one of the best lines in NHL this season.

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I think the Wild will shock everyone this year and win the Pacific division title.

Granlund looks great so far, he will be a strong candidate for the Caulder trophy. The top line looks as if they have played together for years. Also, having a healthy Bouchard in the lineup will also increase the scoring depth. This is a well balanced team.

Go Wild!

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