The Minnesota Wild are in trouble. After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, the team finds themselves in the league’s basement along with the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.
The Wild boast a minus-11 goal differential, which makes them the second worst team in the league to the Devils. Both have two points, but only the Devils remain winless.
The Wild remain hapless.
Minnesota’s single win came at the expense of the Senators and that was a 2-0 affair where nobody scored until the third period. Zach Parise and Victor Rask had the goals.
Minnesota did manage to open the scoring against Toronto Tuesday, but that didn’t hold and a four-goal second period was all the Maple Leafs needed. Luke Kunin and Gerald Mayhew had the goals for the visitors.
Everyone knows the Wild are an aging, slow hockey team. General manager Bill Guerin knows that. So does head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“I don’t have the answer for that. That’s what we have,” said the bench boss on Tuesday. “They have to play. I wish I had a magic potion to make everybody faster, but I don’t. That’s why you gotta grind it out and you gotta play maybe a boring hockey game. But you can’t get into an end-to-end game with these speedy teams.”
Minnesota’s been stuck between a rock and a rebuild for some time. They’ve had to move the needle for the last two to three seasons and haven’t done it, with former general manager Paul Fenton in charge of a win-now sort of franchise and current general manager Guerin trying to put together some pieces for the future.
That’s not going to be easy. Most of Minnesota’s highest-paid players are locked up tight and trades aren’t expected given the pure affluence of the contracts. Consider Victor Rask. Or Parise, who’s 35 and signed through 2024-2025 at over $7.5 million a pop.
And consider the fact that Boudreau’s scratched Rask already this season. He’s also scratched Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala this young year, all Fenton acquisitions intended for that aforementioned win-now approach.
There aren’t many good options. Not yet. But all is not lost, as Guerin seems game to let youngsters like Kirill Kaprizov and Mayhew have a look at the big league.
“I want (the young players) to know that it’s OK to do it, you don’t have to wait your turn,” Guerin said. “You have to have a reward-based system where if you’re playing well and there’s an open spot in Minnesota, you’re going to get called up.”
That is, thank goodness, a silver lining to this cloud.
But as for this season’s hodgepodge of lumbering non-scorers? The answer, I’m afraid, is “That’s what we have.”
Photo credit: NHL.com