The Minesota Wild are the first team that we'll look at in our mini-series, as the first game against them falls today, but also because they are the closest geographical rival... and we are likely to hate them quickly because of it.
You would think this would need to go unsaid, but let's keep the hate to a friendly competitive hate (is that an oxymoron?).
We'll take a look of past performances over the last two years compared to the Jets and let you know of changes in the roster. We'll leave the predictions to you. So, let us know which direction you think the roster changes positions the team in the future.
2011-13 Statistics with position in #ConferenceIII in parenthesis
|Winnipeg Jets||Statistic||Minesota Wild|
|50.8 (3)||GF%||46.6 (6)|
|49.6 (3)||SF%||46.9 (7)|
|50.4 (3)||FF%||46.0 (6)|
|50.0 (3)||CF%||45.4 (6)|
|8.41 (2)||Sh%||7.12 (6)|
|91.98 (5)||Sv%||92.80 (2)|
|100.39 (2)||PDO||99.92 (5)|
A reminder that GF, SF, FF, and CF are all differentials placed into a percentage (G being goals, S being shots on goal, F being Fenwick events (all non-blocked shot attempts), and C being Corsi events (all shot attempts)).
The shot metrics don't speak to kindly of Minnesota. In 2011-12 they were one of the most out shot and chanced teams in the league, but enjoyed early success due to inflated shooting percentages. Their eventual demise that season is the archetypical example of predictive modeling in hockey statistics.
Well, how has their progress gone over the last two seasons?
In the Summer of 2012 the Wild made a big purchase, buying the two largest UFA's in a package deal. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are pretty good players, and together were able to push the Minesota Wild from bottom of the barrel to bubble team. This is likely as far as Parise and Suter can push the team by themselves. The rest will have to come from other players and coaching. Rumour is coach Mike Yeo is encouraging more carried zone entries, which has been shown to improve shot metrics.
Additions and Subtractions
According to NHL.com...
Additions: RW Nino Niederreiter, D Keith Ballard, LW Matt Cooke, D Jonathon Blum
Subtractions: RW Cal Clutterbuck, C Pierre-Marc Bouchard, C Matt Cullen, RW Devin Setoguchi, D Tom Gilbert
UFAs: D Brett Clark, G Jeff Deslauriers, G Dennis Endras, C Jarod Palmer, C David McIntyre, C Joel Broda
Promotion candidates: D Mathew Dumba, C Zack Phillips
Who to look out for and/or hate
The likely line of Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville. Parise and Koivu are capable plus possession players and both Parise and Pomniville can score some points. Their top line is similarly structured like the Jets' own Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler; however, LLW has been more successful.
Jonas Brodin is pretty fantastic young player, even improving Ryan Suter's underlying numbers when they are together.
Zenon Konopka is a terrible hockey player but will probably rise the ire of some Jets fans.
Being only seven hours away from Winnipeg, the Minnesota Wild are the closest geographical rival. Add in being another bubble team and are likely one of the biggest competitors for the 3rd and final playoff spot in the Central Division, a very large rivalry could be in the making.