Over the next few months, Wild.com will take a closer look at some of the areas of the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season, from players, to systems, and everything between.
Two seasons ago, the Wild boasted the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, erasing power plays at an 86.3 percent effectiveness-rate. It was an area of its game that, entering the 2015-16 season, Minnesota felt was a commodity it had in its back pocket, a strength it could expect to remain a strength.
And at times, the Wild looked the part of a team with the league's best penalty kill. But in other stretches, the penalty kill became leaky, and overall, the Wild dropped nearly 10 percentage-points, down to 77.9 from season-to-season.
Like other areas of the Wild's play, the penalty kill could be characterized by streaks.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said the Minnesota Wild had good players, but did not consistently play like a good team in 2015-16, one of its major flaws.
"Our goal was to make the playoffs, which we did, but our goal was not to have 87 points," he said on Thursday, addressing the media for the final time for the 2015-16 season.
How that happened, in Fletcher's eyes, was two stretches that made up nearly a quarter of the Wild's season that were not consistent with the success Minnesota sustained throughout other portions of the calendar.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said he doesn’t like to rush the development curve when it comes to the Minnesota Wild's prospects, but that doesn't have him less excited about the influx of talent in the organization.
"Our forward depth next year is going to be substantially better," Fletcher said. "How quickly these kids can make an impact, we'll see, but we'll certainly have a lot more talent in Iowa to start the season."
In addressing the personnel moves he needs to make this offseason, Fletcher was quick to cite some of the prospects in the Wild's system, like the newly signed Alex Tuch, who was Minnesota's 2014 first round pick.
Defenseman Matt Dumba has been added to Canada's roster for the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Championship.
The tournament begins Friday, May 6 in Russia and runs until May 22. Canada opens play May 6 against the United States (8:15 a.m. CT).
Dumba served as an alternate captain for Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championship. He also captained Canada at the 2012 Under-18 Championship, led the tournament with 12 points, and was named the tournament's Best Defenseman, and Canada won a bronze medal.
Though he said there's no specific timeline on when he would like to make a hire, Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher laid out some of the characteristics he's looking for in a new head coach on Thursday.
He also left open the possibility the Wild's current interim gets promoted into a full-time role.
"Every day has been Game 7," Fletcher said. "It's been triage. You're trying to do whatever you can to win the next game to get into the playoffs, and once we got into the playoffs, to win a series."
Of the Minnesota Wild’s lineup mainstays — players who appeared in at least 30 regular season games this season, or multiple playoff games — five face free agency this summer, leaving decisions for General Manager Chuck Fletcher and whomever becomes the next Wild head coach.
The list does not include backup goaltender Darcy Keumper, set to become a restricted free agent July 1, and Tyler Graovac, a 23-year-old prospect who made the Wild’s opening night roster out of training camp, but then battled injuries most of the season.
“I haven’t put a ton of thought into it yet,” Kuemper said. “I love the group and love the city, so I hope to be back."
The tournament begins Friday, May 6 in Russia, and runs until May 22. Finland opens play May 6 against Belarus (12:15 p.m. CT).
Koivu and Granlund have each represented their country on many international occasions, and were both named to Finland’s preliminary roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. That tournament begins Sept. 17, and runs through Oct. 1.
Parise missed the final game of the regular season and all six playoff games with a back injury he said he’s been dealing with since late January.
"It's been really scary, some of the things that I was feeling," Parise said. "There was a lot of pain and just some of the things that were happening, it was a little eye-opening."
Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Schroeder will participate in the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Championship for the United States.
The tournament begins Thursday, May 6 in Russia, and runs until May 22. The United States will play its first game May 6 against Canada (8:15 a.m. C.T.).
Schroeder has played in five international tournaments for the United States. At the 2010 World Junior Championship, Schroeder had eight points in seven games and the United States won a gold medal, defeating Canada 6-5 in overtime in the championship. Schroeder scored in that game.
The Minnesota Wild players talked about their goals for the 2016-17 season when addressing the media for the final time this season on Wednesday, but most of those goals were framed around finding more consistency.
"We've been in that wild card spot the last four years, we'd love to move up," Zach Parise said. "But that’s just not what’s happened."
There were times the Wild played the type of game and sustained level of success it was happy with, like during a hot start to the season that led to the most points over a first half in franchise-history.