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Looking ahead for the Minnesota Wild: Big changes on the way?

Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.


What went wrong

The Minnesota Wild were a decent team that couldn't score enough goals, especially when it mattered most. Minnesota was sixth-worst in the league, averaging 2.63 goals per game, and seemed particularly to sputter in important games.

All season, the Wild boasted one of the league's best expected-goals figures, suggesting that missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012 had some element of bad luck. But there always felt like something amiss with this team. The chances were there, but the personnel was never able to convert.

Sure, they were hampered by injuries. Mikko Koivu's season-ending ACL surgery was a dagger, as was losing offensively gifted defenseman Matt Dumba in December, especially as the 24-year-old was on the cusp of a breakout season.

But injuries cannot be the excuse yet again for this team. The defensive structure was strong, but an aging core and subpar production across the lineup led to this disappointing finish.

New general manager Paul Fenton was patient before he began putting his stamp on the roster. His first tweak -- shipping Nino Niederreiter to Carolina for Victor Rask -- did not pan out favorably. The trade-deadline acquisition of Ryan Donato for Charlie Coyle looks like a better swap, and the Kevin Fiala addition could be a fine long-term play.

However, it was too little, too late for a team that probably is in need of a bigger shakeup to push it past mediocrity.