Good morning, Stars fans! It’s Friday!
I thought it would be helpful if I were to do a brief overview of every Central Division team’s moves as a quick refresher and to expand on whether the team will be better or worse in regards to their moves. I will also stack them up against the Stars and show you how the Stars series against each team may end up panning out. Due to the success of the first two, this series will see it’s way to the end!
The current edition below covers the Minnesota Wild:
The Minnesota Wild’s 2014 Offseason Moves:
What they did:
After a surprising turnout in the 2013-2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs as a wild card that included beating the Central Division champs, the Colorado Avalanche, in the first round, and a valiant effort against the Chicago Blackhawks that eventually ended up as a six-game series in which the Wild were finally sent home, Minnesota did not seem like they needed to make many changes.
During their offseason, the Minnesota Wild began their signing process by adding on defenseman Stu Bickel from the New York Rangers, forward Brett Sutter from Carolina, forward Joel Rechlicz from Washington, and forward Jordan Schroeder from Vancouver. All these names are mainly of AHL-caliber and not ready for a starting position, but chances are that Minnesota will find a way to use them in their defensive-minded scheme that severely lacks goal scoring and offensive force.
The Wild made their biggest splash on July 1st by bringing in free agent and former Montreal Canadien, Thomas Vanek.
Vanek was tossed around last year and traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the New York Islanders to the Montreal Canadiens throughout last season, but still managed to put up impressive numbers, finishing the year with 27 goals and 41 assists. Vanek will come in to a team that seriously needs an offensive playmaker besides Zach Parise. The Wild finished last year in 23rd for goals scored in the NHL. That averages out to about 2.52 goals per game, a relatively low number that Vanek will look to boost with his offensive skills.
But a major story would be the Wild’s losses. Throughout free agency, the Wild said goodbye to defensemen Clayton Stoner, Jon Landry, and Steven Kampfer, though between the three of them only eight points were scored on the year. But the Wild also lost out on forwards Cody McCormick, Matt Moulson, and Dany Heatley, all of whom had reasonable years even on a struggling Minnesota offense. Vanek may not be enough of a boost for the Minnesota offense to replace all of these players.
Better or worse?:
The Wild lost many average offensive threats and gained a big-name superstar to take their place, as well as beefed up their blue line, a category that they are known for throughout the NHL.
So, if push came to shove, you would have to say that they did improve, even if it turns out to be just a tiny bit. The offense may find itself in a bind throughout next season even with Vanek in the lineup, but the defense will be there to back them up, along with the young and talented group of net-minders that Minnesota has put together over the past season.
How will the Stars fare?:
The Dallas Stars will face the Minnesota Wild three times in November, with two of those times being part of a back-to-back. They will see them once in January and once in February, with both of those meetings being back-to-back situations as well. The Stars will hold the 3-2 home ice advantage.
Dallas’ new and improved offense will more than likely be too much for the Wild’s newly-gelled defense to handle, and the Stars blue line might be able to counteract Minnesota’s misshapen offense, seeing that their blue line doesn’t find a way to misshape themselves. The goaltending will favor the Stars due to experience, and the Stars could very easily walk away with a sweep. There are just too many loopholes in Minnesota’s apparent strategy next year that the Stars will be able to ambush.
The Stars took the series with the Wild last year, finishing with a record of 2-1-1.
Overall, Minnesota looked like it had a very promising future after two straight postseason appearances, but it seems that they have derailed and may be facing some trouble in the near future. But nothing is set in stone, so Minnesota still may be able to prove me wrong.
Comment below on how you feel about the Wild’s offseason and if you think the Stars will be able to outdo them this season. Go Stars.