Monday, October 6, 2014

The 2014-15 Minnesota Wild: X-Factors

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today
Here's a little rundown of the five players who the Wild need to be impactful for them to have success in 2014-15. They are in no particular order.

Thomas Vanek: The first name on our list is a no brainer. Vanek was brought here to increase goal scoring. Well, in the past seven seasons he has been one of the best scorers in the league, and last year he was the seventh best scorer in the NHL despite his play come into question for Montreal. Now that he is on a team that is really deep at the forward position, Vanek should have no reason to not put up 25-30 goals and help Minnesota take that next step this season.

Nino Niederreiter: He spent the season being moved up and down the Wild depth chart, but Nino Niederreiter was one of the team's better scorers last year. This year he projects to begin the season on the third line alongside Erik Haula and Matt Cooke and will need to continue his scoring ways to help give the Wild a balanced offensive attack.

Charlie Coyle:  Middle of March, Mike Yeo had a talk with Charlie Coyle. To sum up how that talk went, it was pretty much just a 'foot in the rear' kind of talk. After that, Charlie Coyle was an unstoppable force on the Wild. The key for him, is putting that play into a full season. If Coyle can translate that play into a full 82 game season, the Wild offense should should have no issue putting up goals.

Jonas Brodin: No player produced fewer shots and points on the Wild last year than Jonas Brodin. For a majority of the season he was paired with Ryan Suter, and he still just did produce many shots for the team. Brodin is likely to begin the year again paired with Suter, but the key for him will be to generate more shots from the blueline this season. It is something he has shown improvement in this preseason, and if that can carry over to the regular season Brodin can be a big impact player for the Wild this year.

Darcy Kuemper: As mentioned earlier today, no player had more to do with saving the Wild's season in 2013-14 than Darcy Kuemper. As we get set to open the season, the Wild will need Kuemper (whether he starts opening night or not) to be great again this year, considering the Wild are already down to just him and Nik Backstrom in net after the Harding injury. Kuemper is set to play his first full season in the NHL, and should be used more primarily over the ageing/injury prone Backstrom.

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