4 reasons you should be excited about this year's Wild team

Feeling down on the Wild? Here's why you should be optimistic.

The Wild open the 2017-18 season next month. And it doesn't seem like people are that excited.

After their most successful regular season campaign to date, Minnesota was bounced in the first round by the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs – the team's fifth straight postseason berth, but second consecutive going out in round one.

So it makes sense that some fans in the State of Hockey have a glass-half-empty take with the club, since they're sick of the early playoff exits.

But the State of Hockey should be getting pumped.

Here are four reasons why the Wild will not only be exciting in 2017-18, but should be able to pull off a deep playoff run, too.

Lethal offense

The Wild scored the second-most goals in the league and the most goals (263) in the Western Conference last season.

Even though they lost Jason Pominville and Erik Haula in the offseason, the team still returns the main core of their offense. 

While that potent offense didn't have a 30-goal scorer, players like Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker could finally break that threshold. They scored 25 and 22 goals, respectively, last year, but the forwards ranked 12th and 13th in ice time.

So if they're used in larger roles this season, the team could very well have two players hit the 30-goal mark.

Dubnyk's getting better

Devan Dubnyk made 63 starts last season, posting a 2.25 GAA and a save percentage of .923, which was an improvement from 2015-16. 

He looked to be a Vezina Trophy finalst – the award for the league's best goaltender – before a rough stretch of March, where the whole team played poorly.

However, Dubnyk was locked in during the playoffs. He allowed just 10 goals in five games and gave the Wild every chance to win in their first-round matchup with the Blues. You cannot put the Wild's exit last season on him.

Dubnyk is a top-10 goalie and he's not even paid like one. There are 19 other goalies in the league who make more money than he does. 

He's not overpaid, he's not overrated: he's the best goalie the team has had in over a decade and it's not close.

Boudreau pedigree 

All Bruce Boudreau has done is win. He was the fastest coach to 200 victories in NHL history, and his winning percentage in the regular season is over 65 percent.

It's his lack of playoff success that's worked against him, especially in Game 7s. He's lost seven of eight such games in his career. 

But historically, Game 7s are basically a coin flip. Before last year's playoffs, there were 28 Game 7's since 2012, and the favored team in those games went 13-14-1. 

There's no recipe for winning a Game 7 – Boudreau's record seems like bad luck, not an indicator of his skills. You'd have to think his record will even out over time. And if you take away those blemishes, Boudreau has still gone 42-36 in the postseason, which is pretty good.

Just like the Wild, Boudreau has never made it to a Stanley Cup, but it would be fitting for a coach – and a franchise – to get there together.

Chicago's trending down

The older (and unequivocally more successful) brother of the Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks, have knocked Minnesota out of the postseason three times this decade, but their days of making perennial Cup runs might be behind them.

They were bounced in the first round last year and traded away a ton of their young talent. They also lost veteran Marian Hossa, and goaltender Corey Crawford is not who he used to be.

Yes, there are other teams for the Wild to worry about in the deep Central Division, but Chicago (probably) wont be one of them.

Next Up