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Biggest Offseason Loss: Devin Setoguchi
People making their NHL picks now that the Wild have never been an offensive juggernaut and they managed to notch 122 goals scored in last season’s 48-game campaign. They were the only team in the NHL to make it into the postseason despite having a negative goal differential (the Wild allowed 127 goals to finish with a differential of -5). It didn’t stop them from making some offensive changes as they traded away Setoguchi, a 26-year-old winger who finished with 13 goals and 27 points in 48 games with five of those goals coming on the power play.
Setoguchi has been a 34-goal scored in the past and at times has looked like a natural sniper, but the Wild managed to snag a second-round pick in next year’s draft for him. If the Wild can get a good player out of that pick and Dany Heatley reverts to his old self, this move may not be so bad in the end. However, considering they lacked scoring to begin with and didn’t adequately replace Setoguchi’s production, it leaves a scoring void up front.
Biggest Offseason Gain: Matt Cooke
Cooke was signed for $7.5 million over three years after leaving Pittsburgh and while he won’t fill Setoguchi’s skates as a goal-scorer, he did score a career-high 19 goals in 82 games in 2011-12 and netted eight goals with a respectable 21 points in 48 games last season. People making their sports picks will point out that he was playing with more talented players in Pittsburgh, but Cooke adds toughness, grit and is a pest to play against. Many times last season the Wild were too soft; Cooke addresses that.
Cooke will score more than a few sloppy goals but the Wild needed some scrap after trading away Cal Clutterbuck to the New York Islanders. Even though he’s 36-years-old, it could turn out to be a decent move for the Wild.
State of the Franchise:
The Wild are what they are: a lower-tier team in the West that can sneak into a sixth seed at best, as long as goalie Nik Backstrom is healthy. They didn’t add much scoring to their ranks, so they’re going to need another great season from Backstrom, who was 24-15-3 with a 2.48 GAA and a .909 save percentage.
The Wild probably need at least one more scorer to take some pressure off the top line of Parise, Jason Pominville (who came over at the trade deadline from Buffalo) and captain Mikko Koivu. There isn’t much outside of that trio while they are pretty solid at the back end, a lack of scoring will keep them from being a good bet on the NHL odds to be a real contender.
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