Where will the offense come from?
Even with a a roster that was largely healthy last season, the Wild featured an attack that produced the NHL’s fifth-fewest goals. Yet they did little during the off-season to address that fact. Yes, Mats Zuccarello was brought in, but he has only twice scored more than 16 goals in a season. He’s hardly a sharpshooter, nor is Ryan Hartman, who was the only other big-league regular who landed in Minnesota. That leaves 34-year-old Eric Staal and 35-year-old Zach Parise as the go-to scorers. If they struggle as they enter the twilights of their careers, it could spell disaster for the attack, especially if some of the young guns can’t pick up the slack.
Will the blueline torch be passed this season?
Before he was felled by an injury last season, sustaining a pectoral injury that cost him the final 50 games, Matt Dumba was on his way to a career-best term and had already racked up 12 goals and 22 points. He’s slowly but surely stepping into a first-pairing role, and this could be the time he alleviates some of the stress that has been put on Ryan Suter in recent years. Suter will be 35 before the season ends, and eventually the Wild will need someone to assume the big-minute mantle from the veteran defender, who averaged nearly 27 minutes per game. Dumba looked ready to be that rearguard last season, and the coming campaign presents the opportunity for him to embrace that challenge.
Do the Wild attempt to reset the roster at any point?
General manager Paul Fenton was fired little more than one year after his hiring, but not before he made some questionable decisions that have potentially set the franchise back. In a tough Central Division, the Wild aren’t a surefire playoff contender and far more likely to fall several points short of the dance. When the trade deadline rolls around, that might give Minnesota reason to take a long, hard look at the roster and consider shaking things up in order to find the best way forward. Some talented youth needs to be injected into an aging group, and sending some veteran pieces packing would be the quickest way to achieve that.
Stanley Cup Odds: 66/1
After missing 2017-18 with a knee injury, Mason Shaw managed eight goals and 33 points as an AHL rookie last season. His 94-point WHL campaign three years ago showed the type of playmaking ability he possesses and keeps him on the radar. He’ll start off in the AHL while rehabbing an injury.