Back From the Dead! – Jersey Concepts 4!

Yes! This blog is dead! But, I’m going to try to pump some air into these long-dead lungs, with another Jersey Concepts post! Woo!

Arizona Coyotes – Rebrand

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The Arizona Coyotes pre-2015 Draft were, eh… Boring. The ones that they released at their 2015 Draft Party are, eh… Boring. The Coyotes haven’t had a solid identity since their 1990’s Kachina-era, (See it here) and this is sort of a mesh of the modern look, and the past era from when they first arrived in the desert. I added hints of green to the primary logo, kept the newly unveiled secondary logo, and used a 1990’s era unused Kachina logo as an alternate. The primary jerseys have a modern, yet classic feel, and the alternate is a modern throwback to the original Coyotes hockey team.

Winter Classic 2017 – Isles VS Devils

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The Isles VS Devils rivalry hasn’t really been there since the Devils and Isles were both competitors, which was a long time ago. This Winter Classic, presumably played at Citi Field, would be between these two teams, and would feature semi-throwbacks to the 80’s for the Devils, and Fishsticks look for the Isles.

“Why not Isles VS Rangers?” I hear the Islanders and Rangers fans yell. Well, it’s because the Rangers have already played in 3 outdoor games, counting the Stadium Series and Winter Classic game, with one of those already having been played against the Isles, and one against the Devils. The Islanders and Devils have a semi-rivalry already, and they haven’t played outside before, plus I thought both jerseys looked like absolute beauty, so, I had to do it.

LGBT+ Rights

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I’m gonna say it, and I’m gonna get shit for it in the comments, but I fully support the LGBT+ Community. I am, in fact, bisexual. If you think that I’m going to hell, alongside millions of people worldwide, then don’t read my blogs. Don’t look at these jerseys, and get you and your negativity the hell away from me.

Ok, now that the rant is over, let’s move on to the jerseys. I have the rainbow flag adorning the sides and arms, along with the shoulder yokes, for obvious reasons. As the picture says, the Lambda is a Greek symbol, which is known for being used in the Half-Life games, but has also been a symbol for the LGBTQ+ Community for a long time. The jersey takes on a modern stance, as the campaign for equal rights, equal representation, and anti-discrimination is constantly taking on a modern stance.

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Alright, so that’s that! Let me know what you think in the comments below! I’m anticipating a shitstorm because of that last comment, to be honest.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS TRADE TARGETS WISHLIST DESIRED POSITION: LW

It is a common complaint of your average Islander fan that the thing the team needs to take the next step is a “stud” winger to ride shotgun with Captain John Tavares. Even though JT’s numbers have done well without the prophesized “stud” isles fans have been dreaming of since he has entered the league, it is clear why we long for one more piece to add to the offensive puzzle. If the Captain has had as much success as he has with the least flattering rosters imaginable, think of what he could do if he was no longer the only concern of the opposing defense when his line jumps the boards. And I know, he has had Kyle Okposo with him, and KO deserves credit for his ability, but some of his success is because of JT. Regardless, his numbers have unknown potential if he has someone on the ice with him that gives him more time and space to work with, but also somebody for him to rely on to be able to pass to and receive passes from. So, to give some of you Isles fans out there who aren’t deep enough into NHL knowledge to dig through rosters to find a good fit for Johnny T, I have taken it upon myself to make an Islanders fan wish list of eligible wingers ready to steal the roster spot of a lifetime.

  1. JASON ZUCKER, 23, MINNESOTA WILD

 

Why it could work:

Jason Zucker is a highly talented forward that has great speed, decent hands, and an elite shot. If you look at his highlights, some of them are just him shooting the puck from a ridiculous spot on the ice and finding the back of the net. One of his best assets isn’t a tangible quality outside of the production it brings him, is his positioning. If you watch the video, he always seems to put himself in the right place at the right time. This is an extremely attractive attribute, because it means that there would be a player on the ice to finish off the many scoring opportunities that JT can’t finish alone. Outside of this, it gives JT two more bonuses: 1.he no longer has to finish off ridiculous plays alone, because he will usually have someone in position to score. 2.Now if he is being covered by multiple guys, or has been moved out of a position to set up a scoring chance, he can just pass it to Zucker with the confidence that he can probably score from wherever he is on the ice. Besides his talt, he might be a possibility in terms of availability. He was reportedly available at the 13-14 deadline and was a potential piece in a Vanek-to-the-Wild-from-Isles deal. Either way, his loss this past season put pressure on Chuck Fletcher to acquire some depth, so they wouldn’t be so dependent. It is possible he would be available if the Isles offered mpre depth for him, like a Josh Bailey and Grabner. The reason he would not need the extra let round pick and could possibly be cheaper is because of his limited sample size. Despite my praise of him, he does only have 98 GP. However, he is capable of 50 points next season, and that is if he stays with the Wild and not with Johnny.

Concerns:

As I stated earlier, he only has 98 GP. This means that he could struggle with the adjustment if he was put immediately on the top line. The other concern is how willing the Wild would be to humor offers on him. Despite their need for depth, they do need him for offence, and if they don’t find Grabner and/or Bailey as sufficient replacements in that department they may hold back. I said they considered trading hi two years ago, but that was before they saw nearly a whole season of his play. Lastly, he only has 9 career assists. He does have 29 goals, but to play with John Tavares, you have to be able to set him up to snipe it as well as be ready to take a pass. If he can’t find/doesn’t have the ability to make a play instead of finish one, it may not be the best fit.

Why he’s on this list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drDCeV7yV1Q

4.JADEN SCHWARTZ, 23, ST LOUIS BLUES

 

Why it could work:

Jaden Schwartz is yet another great product from St Louis, who has a terrific shot, good handsand passing ability, and good speed. The thing that makes Jaden Schwartz so threatening is his elusiveness. And I don’t mean in the same way that guys like Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kane are, but in the way that he just works his way through defenders, that they can’t shut him down. And its not just by getting past guys, he finds ways to score/make chances. For example, if you watch the video in the link, his first highlight is a goal he scored by shooting through a defender’s legs. This ability draws defenders simply by the way it forces multiple opposing players to have to cover for each other’s mistakes, therefore leaving JT open or with more room. Also, unlike Zucker, he has more assists than goals, (62g, 73a) so he will be more than able to help JT score and not just receive the help. Now, on the practical side of his availability, St Louis is in the midst of change to their core in an effort to further their playoff runs. If they don’t find Schwartz absolutely necessary to their team, which, considering the amount of talent they possess, he probably isn’t, they would probably be willing to ship him out for a fair return. And taking into account Garth Snow’s magical ability to underpay for good players (no roster players were lost to acquire Boychuk and Leddy), we could get him for even less than expected.

Concerns:

Contrary to my statement about possibly getting a discount on him, the fact that he is only 23 with 207 GP, 62 G, and 73 A, he may actually cost more than what may be expected. It may also mean that they do not see him as a piece they could adjust to improve their postseason success, which could make it hard to pry away what they see as a piece of their future.

Why he’s on this list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMBNGESObLo

3.TYLER TOFFOLI, 23, LOS ANGELES KINGS

 

Why it could work:

Tyler Toffoli is a gifted young forward with good speed, good hands, and eyes for the back of the net. I’d say from what I’ve seen his two best attributes are his accurate shot and ability to find open ice to score from. He also shows a good ability at passing the puck not only to set up goals but also to create more open space for himself and his linemates. This could be key to boosting JT as it would be great for him to have an open man that he can rely on to score as it is often that Tavares draws the attention of multiple defenders at once, which makes having Toffoli on the ice with him all the more dangerous. Outside of his offense, he comes from a goal-stingy LA Kings system and will definitely bring some defensive responsibility to the top line as well. In addition to his compliments to Tavares, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for LA to consider trading him. He was reportedly available two years ago when Thomas Vanek was on the trade block and LA was gearing up for a cup run, so it wouldn’t be improbable that they would humor an offer for him again as the look to shake things up after missing the playoffs. On top of this, we are all aware of LA’s cap situation, and with the recent addition of Milan Lucic and his 6 mil cap hit, Garth Snow could pull another one of his “Rob a Contender” moves like he did to get Leddy and Boychuk. The Kings are tight for money and it will only get worse if Toffoli keeps progressing and asking for more raises.

Concerns:

His concerns aren’t the usual kind, like injuries, but instead are positional. First off, he’s a natural center, so he would have to adjust to wing, and secondly, he’s a right-hander, so Left Wing might be a challenge for him. However, the top line RW spot did go up for grabs towards the end of last season, so that is a possibility as well.

Why he’s on this list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5f2iZnY0q8

  1. JEFF SKINNER, 23, CAROLINA HURRICANES

 

Why it could work:

Jeff Skinner is a highly gifted offensive forward with incredible hands, an even better shot and a surprisingly good ability to pass the puck. Not only this, but he has some threatening speed and could more than easily keep pace with JT. simply put, he is always one of the most exciting players on the ice every night. If you need proof, he was the first 18-year-old All Star since Steve Yzerman. Now, outside of requirements for ability, Carolina’s current situation could also play into Garth Snow’s hands here. The Canes have multiple uncomfortable contracts on their hands (the Staals, Skinner, Cam Ward) , and as a rebuilding team the cap should be your friend, so they could be looking to move some cash. Since they already have had to buy out Alexander Semin, expect them to want their next big $$$ move to not weigh down their cap scenario for the next few years. Especially if they want to keep the Staals as their leadership core, some dough will have to be dumped, and considering their building prospect pool, Skinner may become available.

Concerns:

He has had some recent trouble with concussions, but it doesn’t go too far back and also hasn’t seemed to tone down his star power too much, but it is a potential worry going forward. My biggest concern, which really applies to all the players on this list, is the shake up in the locker room. The isles have a tight knit group and probably losing a guy to get any of these people could be a speed bump in terms of having to redevelop chemistry and the social adjustment in the locker room. Luckily, the isles seem to be a very welcoming group so the bigger issue would probably be the readjustment period, because no one would want a slow start.

Why he’s on this list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH7MWtpOJ_k

1.JORDAN EBERLE, 25, EDMONTON OILERS

 

Why it could work:

Jordan Eberle is an extremely talented forward that has great skill in scoring goals and making plays. He is equipped with good speed, incredible hands, some amazing skating ability, along with an affinity for goal scoring. There has been speculation of the Isles having interest in Eberle for a while now, and it makes a lot of sense why they would. His style of play is so electrifying and jaw dropping, it would draw defenders’ attention away from John Tavares, he’s that good. On top of this, he has a history of good chemistry with Tavares. They were on team Canada’s top line together at the 2009 WJC, and won gold together. Now, there are reasons to believe we could get him other than the fact that I want him on the team so bad it hurts. Edmonton is in the midst of big changes, and new GM Peter Chiarelli is known to not be afraid to make a big move. I wouldn’t be surprised if he used Eberle to gain depth in a guy like Michael Grabner while also freeing up a spot so Connor McDavid could get more icetime. Additionally, Eberle (who wore the “A” on his chest) was a part of the Oilers’ leadership group, which Chiarelli might understandably want to shake up. Considering the rumors of a shift in captaincy, which I find unlikely considering Andrew Ference’s history with Chiarelli back in Boston, Eberle may be the guy to go. And he would most likely get less criticism for trading Eberle than the other alternate captain and former first overall pick Taylor Hall.

Concerns:

Eberle is a right-hander, so LW would be an adjustment for him, like with Toffoli. The bigger concern in the way of this trade is what he would cost to acquire. Grabner is already on the trade block and is all but gone as it is, but what/who he will be packaged with is the bigger question. As I see it, there are three options. You either throw in one of Josh Bailey or Frans Nielsen, one of our many high-level defense prospects, and probably a pick. There is a downside to all three of these options. Choice A, Josh Bailey, isn’t good, because Josh Bailey is the type of player that with one tweak (that is yet to be found) he could probably get 50+, maybe even 60+ points. A change of scenery could do that, but then we look like fools who traded away a 60+ scorer, one of the fastest guys in the league, and probably a later round pick for Jordan Eberle, who was a 63-point player this past year. Choice B, Frans Nielsen, is a difficult deal to make because of how major Frans’ value is to the team. He is a leader on the ice, showcased through his role on the power play, penalty kill, shootout, and as a second line center. Outside of special teams he excels, too, as a good offensive forward and as a shutdown forward. The only reason I say he is a choice is that his value most likely wont be higher than it is now. This will come down to whether or not Garth will choose the sentiment of the situation or the business side. Lastly, Choice C, a young D prospect, is maybe the least concerning option of the three. The isles have so many young promising blueliners that even if half turned out to be busts they’d still have 7 solid defensemen. The only reason to hesitate is that trading some of them now may seem foolish later, since so many seem to have bright futures that their value may be higher in say, a year, maybe two. Nobody wants another Chara to happen.

Why he’s on this list: https:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwvRkjtO-6I

A taste of his magic with JT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piXP-wZmzc4

5 Things that must happen for the Panthers to reach the playoffs

The Florida Panthers came in 10th in the east last season and were in the race all the way till the end. This list will go by order of importance.

  1. Barkov stays healthy- I believe along with Aaron Ekblad that Barkov is the future of this team. Hes a big 2 way center that can score pass defend and control the puck.Barkov has had some difficulty staying healthy through the beginning part of his career, and really had a break out last half to the season along with Jagr and Huberdeu.
  2. Nick Bjustad and another player need to reach 30 goals- Last year what the Cats were lacking in most was a consistent goal scorer. Nick is a big goal scoring center man that most likely will hit the 30 goal mark this year. Along with Bjustad another player needs to reach 30. Most likely it will be sniper Brandon Pirri or former Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeu.
  3. The blue line stays healthy- We can assume the Iron Man Brian Campbell will play his 5th straight 82 game season, but others like Guddy, captain Willie Mitchell, Kulikov, and Kampher need to stay healthy to give Loungo some help.
  4. Loungo stays strong- Bobby Lou is at the tail end of his career at 36 years old. Loungo had a great season last year earning a spot on the all star team and helping the Panthers become the most improved team last year.
  5. Ekblad wins the Norris- Aaron is only in his sophomore campain, but the 19 year old has already become 1st ovr pick, all star, and Calder winner. Watching this kid play the game is poetry in motion he is a rock defensively using the body and the stick. Hes a great offensive player also scoring 37 points in his rookie season witch is 3rd all time for a rookie dman behind Hall of Famers Phil Housley and Bobby Orr. I think he for sure has what it takes to get the award this year but no doubt will be in the running every year for maybe the next 10 years.

The NHL-Adidas Jersey Deal

The NHL recently announced that they will be changing their jersey supplier from Reebok to Adidas. Adidas will begin making jerseys for each NHL team come the 2017-2018 season. Under Armour had also reportedly been interested in supplying the NHL’s jerseys.

This deal can change the way the NHL makes it’s jerseys. Adidas and the NHL are both considering advertising on the jerseys, much like most world soccer teams. This may not be in the fan’s best interest, but advertising on jerseys can help the NHL make an estimated extra $120 million dollars each season. This extra money can lead to higher paid players and a better fan experience. Adidas is also considering redoing some team’s jerseys to make them more unique.

Who Should Captain the Devils Next Season?

The Devils let former captain Bryce Salvador walk in free agency this summer, and haven’t named a new captain yet. Bryce Salvador was named captain after he put up an impressive Stanley Cup Playoffs campaign after scoring 14 points and coming up huge in clutch moments. Most other hockey fans who didn’t know that stat might have wondered why he was the captain. Here are my top 3 candidates for the Devils next captain.

Honorable Mentions

Travis Zajac 

Travis Zajac has been playing for the Devils for his entire 9 year NHL career. His best seasons are behind him, however. His best season was the 2009-2010 season when he put up 25 goals and 42 assists. Last year was unimpressive, when he only scored 11 goals and 14 assists for a grand total of 25 points. His rookie season was better when he produced 42 points. Despite not living up to expectations, he has shown flashes of leadership and could possibly be the team’s next captain.

Adam Larsson

Adam Larsson was drafted 4th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, and was said to possibly be picked first overall. If you’ve watched any hockey lately, you’d know that he hasn’t performed to number 1 prospect expectations. However, last season was the breakout season he desperately needed. He scored 24 points in 67 games last season. He also just signed a new 6 year, $25 million dollar contract. This doesn’t mean he will be captain next year, but he certainly can in a few years as he is 22 and still developing.

3. Mike Cammalleri

Despite only having one year as a Devil under his belt, Mike Cammalleri could be a strong consideration as the next captain of the New Jersey Devils. Cammalleri signed a 5 year, $25 million dollar contract in last year’s off-season with the Devils. Last season, he was the Devils’ highest offensive producer, scoring 27 goals and 42 points. Of those 27 goals, 8 were game winning goals, which was good for 3rd in the NHL, being tied with John Tavares, Rick Nash, and others. Without those 8 wins, the Devils would having been tied with Edmonton for third to last in the league, assuming those games didn’t go to overtime. Mike Cammalleri would make a great captain as he practically carried New Jersey’s offense on his back.

2. Patrik Elias

Patrik Elias would probably be anyone else’s number 1 on this list, but I have him at number 2. Elias has never wanted to be the captain, just an alternate captain. As he only has one year left on his contract, and is 38 years old, it looks like next year could be his last. Patrik Elias has spent his entire career with the Devils, and has by far been their best forward ever. He has over 400 goals and over 600 assists in his NHL career. It seems like being captain would be a fitting end to his NHL career. I think the position could be his, but only if he wants it.

1. Andy Greene

32 year old Andy Greene went undrafted and has spent his whole NHL career with New Jersey. Greene is a balanced defenseman who has 171 points in 559 NHL games since the 2006-2007 season. He also seemed to captain the team when Bryce Salvador was injured this season. Greene also seems to lead by example, and our younger defenseman like Larsson, Gelinas, Merrill, and Severson seem to be learning from him. Though his stats aren’t impressive, he does all the right things that don’t show up on a scoresheet, and I think he should captain the New Jersey Devils next season.

The Current State of Thomas Vanek

If you take a look at the Minnesota Wild fanbase, you’ll see a split opinion on Thomas Vanek. Some fans will argue that he’s doing just what he needs to do, but others will say he isn’t doing enough for the team. If you look at the stats, it will tend to lead to the conclusion that Vanek has decreased his production since arriving in Minnesota. However, there is more to a player than just his statistics. Within the last 2 seasons, he has gone between 4 teams. He started out the 2013-14 season in Buffalo, found himself playing on the Islanders, and later on landed in Montreal. That offseason, he signed a 3-year contract with Minnesota and has been there since. As you can imagine, that’s more than enough adjusting for him to have to deal with in many ways. Not only does he have to pack up and move to a new city, he has to learn how to work with new teammates in a new system with new coaches.

If you look at the simple numbers of production, such as his points, it was a bit of a down year for him. However, he might be getting criticized even more due to the fact that his numbers in the playoffs were subpar and the Wild as a team have again failed to improve themselves in the playoffs. Many are wondering if he is just naturally declining or if it is just a case of bad luck. Vanek had shown multiple times last season that he still has talent, but at the same time he isn’t getting any younger. It mainly seems like this season was a case of bad luck, and that could easily be fixed by just giving him some time. He bounced around a lot recently, so if he is given time to adjust to the Wild’s system and the players his numbers certainly could start to go up again. If he happens to find chemistry with his linemates in Minnesota like he did with Pacioretty and Desharnais in Montreal, there’s no telling what he could be capable of doing. It’s hard to wait and give him more time to bounce back, but it’s very important to do. Chemistry is one of the few things in this league that can’t be rushed.

Anaheim’s Most Underrated Player

    The Ducks, led by star players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, are one of the best teams in the West.  Having an abundance of talent such as the aforementioned pair and others such as defenseman Cam Fowler, some key supporting players go unnoticed.  This player on Anaheim is none other than Jakub Silfverberg.
    The Swedish winger did not post very noticeable regular season numbers, totaling 13 goals, 26 assists and 39 points in 81 games.  However, he still did find himself fourth on the team in scoring.  The main reason he was chosen was his breakout playoff performance.  Jakub found himself behind only Ryan Getzlaf in production during the Ducks’ postseason ventures notching 18 points in a mere 16 games.
    Only 24 years old, Silfverberg has plenty more to prove and I would say it’s not far-fetched to see him as a legitimate top six winger scoring 50+ points in a season.  He, along with Stefan Noesen and Nick Ritchie, have proved to be excellent young acquisitions to make up for the 2013 trading of winger Bobby Ryan.

Thanks for reading.  Tomorrow I will cover the Arizona Coyotes.  Make sure to follow the The Hockey Scoop on Twitter @hockeyscoopblog.

What Should a Devils Fan Expect for Next Season?

If you’re a Devils fan, you might not like this, but next year will likely not be a good one. New general manager Ray Shero’s moves this offseason have pointed to one answer: The Devils are rebuilding. From a fan’s perspective, this comes with a few years of losing and frustration, but it pays off.

Ray Shero is not only trying to create a younger Devils, but he is also establishing a new culture in New Jersey, rather than Lou Lamoriello’s trademark defense-first style of play. He has hired new coach John Hynes, who was previously the head coach of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and was very successful. He reached the Calder Cup Playoffs each of his 5 seasons, and reached the conference finals twice. Shero and Hynes are familiar with each other, as Shero first hired Hynes in Wilkes-Barre. Hynes also coached the US Developmental Program, UMass Lowell, and the University of Wisconsin.

The Devils have gotten younger by not re-signing veterans Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier, Mark Fraser, Bryce Salvador, and Peter Harrold. The Devils also bought out aging winger Dainius Zubrus’s contract to make room for another forward spot. The Devils traded for 24 year old right wing Kyle Palmieri at the NHL Draft, who finished last year with 14 goals and 15 assists, despite only playing in only 57 games. The Devils also signed 24 year old defenseman John Moore, who has 40 points in 230 career games with the Blue Jackets, Rangers, and Coyotes. The Devils also drafted Pavel Zacha 6th overall. He is an offensive powerhouse who we will probably not see in the NHL next season for purposes of developing him further in the OHL. We should see him in the 2016-2017 season.

Next year we might see the Devils trading away veterans like Andy Greene, Patrik Elias, and Tuomo Ruutu near the trade deadline to stockpile draft picks, like we saw multiple teams do last year. Both Elias’ and Ruutu’s contracts expire after next season, but Andy Greene’s might be hard to move since it has an AAS of 5 million and expires in 2020. The Devils also have two of the NHL’s worst contracts in Zajac’s and Clowe’s. Zajac is getting paid an AAS of 5.75 million and doesn’t expire until 2021. When he signed the contract his future looked promising, but he has performed well below expectaions. Clowe’s contract was simply a bad idea, as it looks like he may never play again due to concussion problems, and will earn 4.85 million dollars every year until 2018.

Now for predictions. I think we can see the bottom 3 in the league in our future for next season. If Greene gets traded, there isn’t another leader on the defense corps yet, and if it buckles, last place looks like a fitting spot for the Devils, mainly because we don’t have enough offense to lead the team to consistent victories. But, look on the bright side. Next year’s top prospect, Auston Matthews was ineligible for this year’s draft because he was born two days after the cutoff. Some have said he could’ve been drafted before Eichel. If everything works in our favor, that could be nice for us, right?

Every NHL Team’s Most Underrated Player

Starting today, I will begin a 30 article series selecting a team’s most underrated player.  I’ll only count players with over 50 NHL games played in their careers.  Both skaters and goaltenders are eligible to be chosen.  Feel free to share your opinion on each of your personal choices.
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Prediction of the Minnesota Wild’s season

The Minnesota Wild’s 2014-15 campaign went as many people had expected it to go. While there is certainly great talent and potential on the roster, there has always been room to improve. Until Devan Dubnyk was traded to the team, they showed their need for a new goalie. Their depth with their forwards was shown to be a swing or a miss due to the fact that many of them are still developing players who have not yet hit their stride. They were able to produce goals and were better at not allowing goals, especially on the penalty kill. After acquiring Dubnyk, they rocketed themselves up the Western Conference and found themselves landing a spot in the playoffs. However, as many expected, they were shown the door out by the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight season, again leaving the team as well as the fans wondering what can be done to get over that hump. My first guess would be to shake things up within the organization and make bold moves. If a big name has to be traded off for some prospects to keep the window open longer, so be it. If making any more progress requires a new coach or a new GM, then do what it takes. So far, the Wild have not made any big splashes or very many moves for that matter, and that might hurt them in the upcoming season.

As far as the upcoming season goes for Minnesota, I can see a lot of potential but not much guaranteed in the success department. They should have consistent and solid goaltending if Dubnyk does what he needs to do and having a good backup like Kuemper. Their defense shouldn’t disappoint either considering that not much was lost in free agency and the 6th defensive spot is still left open to one of the many young defensemen. Not only does that create competition that the from office would love to see, but it also reminds the Wild of the promise left in their defense. The offense is where I see problems forming for the team. Stewart left for Anaheim, Brodziak left for St. Louis, and Bergenheim is still floating in free agency. While the loss of these forwards will not destroy the team, it does take out depth that the team could certainly use. There isn’t much left in Iowa for great promise, so until they have reloaded it with more prospects they are left with free agency and what they currently have on the team. I still see Minnesota as a playoff team, but there is a doubt about being a Cup contender. I see the Wild having another solid year and landing a spot in the playoffs. I can see them landing a wild card spot much like they did this previous season. How far they make it in the playoffs will be a luck of the draw. If the Blackhawks happen to cross their path, the result of previous matches could easily expected to be the same. I would absolutely love to see them finally have Chicago’s number, but they didn’t make the sort of changes that they would need to in order to beat them, which mainly seems to be getting the puck in the net.