After a strong 3rd place finish in the 2007-08 season, Minnesota’s actions in the offseason are difficult to explain. The Wild made no real solid acquisitions to augment the offensive talents of Marian Gaborik and the solid goaltending of Nicklas Backstrom.
Instead, Minnesota lost the services of talented veterans Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston. Rolston’s heavy shot and ability to quarterback the powerplay will be sorely missed, as will his 50+ points a season. Demitra is 33 years old, but in 68 games last season he still put up 54 points. Minnesota’s only attempt to fill the holes left by these two was the signing of veterans Andrew Burnette and Owen Nolan and the acquisition of Finnish forward Antti Miettinen. Nolan and Burnette are both well past 30, and neither put up point totals anywhere near what Rolston and Demitra managed last season. Miettinen is a fast skater and will provide some some spark, but at 28, he has still yet to prove himself as a top-caliber forward, and if he was going to, one would have to think he would have done it by now.
All this adds up to trouble for Minnesota in the upcoming season. With Colorado looking to get back in the mix as a top-level contender, and Calgary and Edmonton continuing to improve, the worst team in the Northwest Division last season was the under-achieving Vancouver Canucks. Without two of their key offensive players, Minnesota may be headed for a long and difficult season in 2008-09.