The Wild gave the Coyotes a lot of problems last seasons, but they haven’t exactly improved during the offseason.
I’m not sure if there was an opponent during the regular season who more consistently out-played the Arizona Coyotes last season than the Minnesota Wild. The Wild weren’t a better team per se, but they matched up better against the Coyotes. The Coyotes have changed with the additions of Drake Caggiula, John Hayden, Tyler Pitlick, and Johan Larsson will hopefully help the Desert Dogs in the additional matchups this season.
Key Additions: Cam Talbot, Ian McCoshen, Andrew Hammond, Nick Bonio, Nick Bjugstad
Key Subtractions: Devan Dubnyk, Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Ryan Donato, Luke Kunin, Alex Galchenyuk
2019-20 Finish: 6th in Central (35-27-7)
Coyotes’ 2019-20 record: 0-3-0
Sister Site: Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes)
Key Injuries: Alex Stalock (upper body), Mats Zuccarello (arm)
Difference Maker: Goaltending
The Wild lost their starting goaltender, their long-time captain, and center Eric Staal this past offseason. Any one of these could prove to be an obstacle, but perhaps no more than goaltending.
Minnesota played Dubynk a lot. The Coyotes traded Dubnyk to the Wild in the 2014-15 season, and in his first full season, he played 67 games with Minnesota. The next four seasons he played over 60 games, up until last season when he was limited to 30 games.
Longtime backup Alex Stalock played over 30 games for the first time in his career last season, and he was good. He finished with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage, some of the best numbers in his career. But is the Wild comfortable with giving Stalock a larger role?
The Wild have a wild card in Cam Talbot. Talbot had some solid seasons in Edmonton but was limited to 26 games with the Calgary Flames last season.
Finally, the Wild have Andrew Hammond and Kaapo Kahkonen. Hammond has played in 56 games, Kahkonen has played only 5.
We aren’t sure what goaltending is going to look like this upcoming season. It is a short, compact season, unlike most of the prior seasons. If the Wild are looking to ride a starter as they did with Dubynk they are probably going to have issues, but they may have the pieces to put together an interesting trio that splits the games more evenly. Will it work? Remains to be seen.