Throwback to late April 24, 2016. The pop music icon artist formerly known as Prince had passed away just days before and Carson Wentz was days away from being drafted to Philadelphia and being crowned the patron saint of North Dakota.
Oh, and the Minnesota Wild had once again failed to advance in the post season, too.
After a drought of W’s on the scoreboard and a coaching change, the Wild had another turn around spring, only to be defeated within the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Wild open this year’s regular season in St. Louis, where they will take on the Blues. The Blues are coming off a more successful post season than the Wild, being defeated in the Western Conference final by the San Jose Sharks.
The Blues are newly without their 10-season seasoned captain, Minnesota native David Backes. Backes was traded to the Boston Bruins over the summer, and since forward Alex Pietrangelo has stepped up to fill the void in the captaincy.
Holding the crease together, the Wild still have netminders Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper. Dubnyk is looking to have another absolutely stunning year as he did after being traded to the Wild from the Arizona Coyotes in the latter half of the 2014-15 season.
Dubnyk is still one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League, and a strong netminder can bolster together any team.
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room for the Wild is the health of assistant captain, forward Zach Parise.
Parise had injured his back late in the 2015-16 season, and though he was healthy enough to return to play in the World Cup of Hockey just weeks ago, the longevity of his health remains in question. Should he remain healthy throughout the year, the Wild can expect to see a significant increase in the goal tally on the scoreboard.
Over the summer, the Wild picked up center Eric Staal from the New York Rangers to give a boost to the team’s offense. With over 10 years experience, Staal earns on average 60 points a season.
Captain ‘capfinn’ Mikko Koivu will begin his twelfth year with the team, adding to his record as the Wild’s longest serving player. Last year, Koivu grossed 56 points — his highest earning season in the previous five years.
On the bench
Bruce Boudreau replaced John Torchetti to take over as the Wild’s permanent head coach shortly following post season play in the 2015-16 season. Torchetti had only assumed the role months before, when he replaced Mike Yeo, who was the Wild’s head coach for (more-or-less) five seasons.
In his coaching tenure, Boudreau has never won the Stanley Cup, and has never made it to the Stanley Cup finals.
Boudreau’s name was also donned on the back of Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks jerseys as well.
Boudreau has played in Minnesota before, with the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the 1975-76 season to score 30 goals.