Minnesota Wild 2023-24 season preview and predictions

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Minnesota Wild season preview

Minnesota has a strong hockey club, but it seems that the team always finds a way to disappoint and not meet expectations. The Wild had a strong season last year with 103 points, but they got worse in the offseason with some of their departures. They have one or two big-time players on their roster, but this team doesn’t scare anyone. 

 

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Offense

The Wild were insanely top-heavy last season. Kirill Kaprizov led the way with 75 points, followed by Mats Zuccarello, Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek, with each having 60+ points as well. After that, there was a massive drop off in offensive production. I’d say that this is a very subpar offensive team with their current roster. They brought in a veteran player in Pat Maroon, who makes them a bit grittier, but this team needs another forward to step up and have a breakout season.

Minnesota finished toward the bottom in most offensive categories, only averaging 2.91 goals per game and a 21.4% conversion rate on the man-advantage. They can count on Kaprizov, Zuccarello and Boldy to produce, but other than that, this team needs some help putting the puck in the net. 

Defense

Minnesota might not have a ton of flair on their blue line, but they are consistently a team that fares well when it comes to expected goals against per 60 minutes. They finished toward the top of the league in this category, while at the same time finishing as the third-best team in the league at preventing high-danger chances against per 60. 

The Wild’s blue line took a big hit this off-season, losing two veteran defensemen in Matt Dumba and John Klingberg, but the highly touted Brock Faber is entering his first full NHL season after appearing in two regular season games and six playoff games last year. Faber was very impressive in his brief showing, and he could turn out to be a very important piece this year. 

Goaltending

Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson became quite the one-two punch last season, as they essentially split the time in the blue paint, but I have a very strong feeling that it will be the Swede’s crease this season. Gustavsson just signed a much-deserved extension with Minnesota after putting up a .931 save percentage and a 2.10 goals against average. He also finished with the league’s seventh-best +24.2 goals saved above expected. The 38-year-old Fleury can still help this team win games, but ultimately they are going to go as far as Gustavsson takes them. 

Player To Watch – F Matt Boldy

The 22-year-old had a phenomenal first full NHL season in 2022-23, as he potted home 31 goals, finishing second on the team in that category. Boldy is a very skilled player who’s not afraid to be physical and throw his body around. There were a ton of games that he completely took over this past season, but he’ll have to find some more consistency to be as effective as he can be. He’s still a young kid, so there will be some growing pains, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Boldy scores 35+, maybe even 40 goals this season.

Outlook

I’d say the Wild have a very strong chance of making the playoffs due to the fact that this division is a tad weaker than others. With that said, I don’t expect them to make much noise come postseason time.