In case you lived under a rock all day Wednesday, the Wild signed on coveted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The news was by far the most celebrated news since it was announced that Minnesota was getting a hockey team back in June of 1997.
Today, there has been a lot of talk on what expectations are for this team, now that they have Parise, Suter, and their talented prospects signing on to play with either the Wild or their AHL affiliate, Houston.
There have been some out there (Bleacher Report), who believes that this team has instantly become a Stanley Cup contender overnight. But, most realistic people (such as myself), believe this team has elevated themselves to a definite playoff team, but not much more than that.
Even with Suter in the fold now, the defense on this team is still very young and inexperienced. Youngsters Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, and Justin Falk (who signed a 1 year contract yesterday) look to improve from their first full season in the NHL in 2011-12. Tom Gilbert was brought in at the trade deadline to add some offensive to the blue line. And Clayton Stoner is back with the team on a new two year deal and he brings some much needed physicality to the defense. Its not exactly the best, but potentially, it could be a good one.
The Wild offensively should be solid with the top 3 lines consisting of Heatley-Koivu-Parise, PMB-Granlund-Setoguchi, and Cullen-Brodziak-Clutterbuck. They should be in the 10-15 range in terms of goal scoring in the NHL.
So, yes, we all should expect playoff hockey next April. But should we expect Mikko Koivu to be lifting the Stanley Cup next June? No.
But it will be the most fun we have had in 4 years…