October 06, 2015

MINNESOTA WILD

LAST SEASON: 38-33-11, 87 points. Finished fifth in Central Division. Lost to Dallas Stars in Western Conference quarterfinals.

COACH: Bruce Boudreau (first season, 10th NHL season).

ADDED: C Marc Staal, RW Chris Stewart.

LOST: LW Thomas Vanek, RW Justin Fontaine, LW Chris Porter, C Jarret Stoll, RW David Jones.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Mikael Granlund. The ninth pick in the 2010 draft, a cult hero in his native Finland, hasn't matched the hype with offensive production over his first four NHL seasons. But he has proved to be a hard-nosed defensive player and, playing all 82 games for the first time, posted a career-best 13 goals and 44 points last season. Granlund, who has been playing left wing on a line centered by captain and fellow Finn Mikko Koivu, is poised for a breakout in Boudreau's system.

OUTLOOK: With Granlund and fellow forwards Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Zucker, plus defensemen Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, the Wild have a young core. Koivu, Staal, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and defenseman Ryan Suter will all be 32 or older this season, so the time is now to make a move past the early rounds of the playoffs where they've been stuck the last four years. It's up to Boudreau to guide them there.

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