One of the most significant makeovers of the offseason belonged to the Minnesota Wild organization. Not only did the Wild trade one of their top defenseman in order to acquire some scoring depth, but they also moved their veteran point producer to take a chance on one of the potentially elite snipers in the league.
Brent Burns was dealt to the San Jose Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, a forward who has scored more than 20 goals the past three years, but has seen his numbers decline since his 30 goal output in 2008-09. Also acquired in the trade was prospect Charlie Coyle, a first round pick in the 2010 draft. In a separate move the Wild traded veteran Martin Havlat to the Sharks for Dany Heatley. The goal for Minnesota is to improve their goal scoring, having tallied only 203 times last year, second to last in the Western Conference behind only the Edmonto Oilers. The Wild hope that Setoguchi can score around 25 goals this season and contribute 40 plus points, but we’ll see if he struggles with a new cast of characters around him in the Twin Cities. Heatley is one of the more interesting players in the league because of his resume. A two-time 50 goal scorer who will now be playing for his fourth NHL franchise throws up some white flags. Heatley’s career has also been on a downward trend. Since the lockout Heatley had not scored fewer than 39 goals in any season, so last year’s 26 wasn’t what he was looking for exactly. The Wild hope they bought low on a player that has 40-50 goal potential and are banking on Heatley returning to form as one of the leaders for the Wild organization. Much maligned throughout his career, Heatley should be looking to prove his doubters wrong and have a strong season this year.
Niklas Backstrom will again be relied on heavily in net for the Wild, but that won’t be anything new for the Minnesota back stop. Backstrom willl be looking for rebound from a season that saw him finish under .500 and play only 51 games during the year. The Wild will need a healthy Backstrom and a season like he had in 2008-09 to get back to the post season.
Mike Yeo replaces Todd Richards behind the bench, making his National Hockey League debut as a head coach after spending time with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Houston. Yeo will be expected to help the Wild generate more offense and compete for a playoff spot immediately upon his arrival.
Another under the radar signing for the Wild was Darroll Powe, a physical player who had a solid season playing bottom six minutes for the Philadelphia Flyers last season.
If the Wild are to return to the post season they’re going to need Heatley to be the elite goal scorer he’s shown throughout his career. Last season was a huge disappointment for Heatley, but now he’ll be the go-to-guy on a club that desperately needs one. A renaissance from Heatley could go a long way to getting the Wild back to the playoffs, and making them extremely dangerous when they get there.