The Wild round out our little week of competition checks. The Wild won the NW this season, mostly on the strength of their defense. The Wild allowed just 218 goals - 2nd in the division (and just 1 less than the Avs). Offensively, the Wild scored 223 - 4th in the division.
The goals may not come any easier next year. Minnesota lost 2 of its top 4 scorers in Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston. Personally, I think Demitra and his stick-kissing act is getting a bit long in the tooth, but I'm a big Rolston fan. The Wild also lost Branko Radivojevic and Chris Simon to Russia while Aaron Voros and Todd Fedoruk went to teams who are unfamiliar with this strange game of hockey. To replace all those warm bodies, the Wild signed old friend Andrew Brunette, older friend Owen Nolan, non-friend Antti Miettenan and some dude named Craig Weller. Somehow, the Wild managed to replace a bunch of crud with...a bunch of crud.
On defense, though, the Wild got it right. They dumped Keith Carney (who was, for some unknown reason, making over $2 million a year), Sean Hill and Peteri Nummelin and replaced them with Marc-Andre Bergeron and Marek Zidlicky. Both newcomers have offensive skills and, I think, will make an already top-notch unit that much better. I don't think a couple of injuries will cripple this squad next year like it did this spring.
NikBackstrom and Josh Harding will return and, coupled with that awesome group of blueliners, the Wild should still be competitive no matter how lame their offense will be.