Minnesota Wild: Why 2013-14 met expectations

With another season in the books, the Minnesota Wild made significant strides in its pursuit of bringing a Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey. The 2013-14 season saw the growth of a team that is chomping at the bit and closing in on becoming a perennial power in the National Hockey League.

Despite not making the run that many hoped for in the second season of the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter era, Minnesota was able to piece together a supporting cast that is sure to make the team a future contender.

For starters, the Wild have now seen what it has in the young players that have been heralded for years. Specifically, Mikael Granlund, Chalie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter showed fans that the hype was no mirage.

The Finnish phenom displayed his uncanny hockey sense and vision in a breakout season in which he compiled 41 points in 63 games and earned all-tournament honors at the Olympics.

Coyle, on the other hand, played his power forward role well for much of the season, grabbing 30 points in 70 games. Reports are also surfacing that Coyle played in the playoffs despite two separated shoulders, exposing his toughness.

The trade that brought in Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck is looking like the steal of last offseason. The 21-year-old forward is capable of playing up and down the lineup and showed serious killer instinct and a will to win in the playoffs. Not that it needs replaying, but this video is just too enjoyable to not include.

Very little is of concern when it comes to the Minnesota Wild’s big guns. The top performers played like they are paid.

Zach Parise (and Ryan Suter) has lived up to the $98 million contract he signed two years ago.

Zach Parise (and Ryan Suter) has lived up to the $98 million contract he signed two years ago.

Jason Pominville became the first 30-goal scorer since Marian Gaborik in 2007-08. Zach Parise continued to show his motor and performed extremely well in the playoffs. Ryan Suter was the backbone of the defense, racking up a staggering amount of 30-minute games. And finally, Mikko Koivu was Mikko Koivu, still one of the most important players in franchise history.

The only area that the Minnesota Wild needs to address immediately is at goalie. Having started five different goalies this season, a permanent starter has to be chosen. Every goalie that suited up played well, which is a huge credit to the defensemen, but uncertainty between the pipes cannot be a theme again next season.

Despite being suspected of being on the hot seat at times, Mike Yeo grew as a coach. He is no longer the slow-to-react coach that was seen in glimpses during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He is more comfortable guiding the Wild and showed he isn’t afraid to shake things up when they aren’t working. After improving on last season and the Wild a few moves away, Yeo’s contract should be renewed.

The Minnesota Wild is on the verge of being a contender year in and year out. Nearly all the right moves have been made the past few years and the upcoming offseason offers a great opportunity to improve further with the NHL salary cap increasing.

Two things are clear for the Minnesota Wild. The future is bright and a precedent has been set.

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