The Minnesota Wild finished with 98 points in 2013-2014, tying for the second-most in franchise history, and put forth a strong showing in two playoff rounds, raising expectations going forward. Pittsburgh Penguins Gear . Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Wild team that has a nice mix of proven veterans along with young, inexpensive talent on the rise. When the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, making a big splash in the summer of 2012, it set the franchise on a path to being more competitive, but a big reason that they have been so competitive is the contributions of young players who still have more to give. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Justin Fontaine, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin all played roles in the teams success last season and, by and large, there is potential for more from that group. What that inexpensive talent allows, though, is for the Wild to spend either in free agency or in trades, because they have financial flexibility. Add another scorer and a proven defenceman to the mix and a team that gave the Chicago Blackhawks a good test in the second round could be even better next year. A couple of concerns: One, the Wild opened the year with improved puck possession stats, over 56% Fenwick Close through mid-November, but those numbers steadily declined and settled at 48.6% by seasons end, ranking 21st, which isnt worthy of a Cup contender. Secondly, goaltending was great early in the year, with Josh Harding playing out of his mind, but health turned into a major issue and the Wild had four goalies start at least 10 games last year. Some combination of Harding, Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper should be able to stop enough pucks but, given how last season played out, it is a position of uncertainty -- even more than it is for most teams. All things considered, though, the Wild have an interesting roster that should have playoff expectations next season. Lets see what they do with some cap room this summer to see whether expectations should go even higher than that. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- Corsi, adjusted for zone starts, quality of competition and quality of teammates, hits, blocked shots, penalty differential and faceoffs. Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be around 70, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013-2014 regular season ratings at 87.12. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. CF% = Corsi percentage (ie. percentage of 5-on-5 shot attempts), via www.extraskater.com. GM/COACHChuck Fletcher/Mike Yeo Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Zach Parise 77.56 67 29 27 56 55.3% $7.538M Jason Pominville 72.86 82 30 30 60 53.0% $5.6M Mikko Koivu 72.53 65 11 43 54 56.1% $6.75M Mikael Granlund 68.99 63 8 33 41 48.4% $900K Erik Haula 66.35 46 6 9 15 48.4% $900K Charlie Coyle 64.81 70 12 18 30 48.9% $900K Matt Cooke 64.58 82 10 18 28 45.3% $2.5M Kyle Brodziak 63.64 81 8 16 24 43.9% $2.833M Stephane Veilleux 55.86 34 3 0 3 40.5% $588K Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Matt Moulson 71.51 75 23 28 51 46.6% UFA $3.133M Nino Niederreiter 65.53 81 14 22 36 50.3% RFA $2.795M Justin Fontaine 62.43 66 13 8 21 46.0% RFA $600K Dany Heatley 62.14 76 12 16 28 44.5% UFA $7.5M Cody McCormick 56.74 43 2 5 7 37.8% UFA $1.2M Mike Rupp 54.69 13 0 1 1 48.7% UFA $1.5M Zach Parise is one of the most consistent goal-scorers, ranking 16th since 2006-2007, despite missing 69 games in 2010-2011. His relentless puck pursuit, combined with offensive zone starts, leads to strong puck possession numbers while facing high-quality opposition. Even so, its worth noting that, since his last point-per-game season in 2009-2010, Parise has 169 points in 210 games (0.80 ppg), so thats a more reasonable expectation at this stage of his career. Even more durable than Parise, Jason Pominville has missed a total of 10 games in the past eight seasons, and has been a consistent point producer in that time, with his 495 points in that time ranking 24th in the league. Hes been a solid two-way player throughout his career but, in Minnesota, Pominville is focused on offence, with offensive zone starts and little, if any, penalty-killing time. Underrated as a two-way pivot, probably in part because he doesnt score a ton of goals, Mikko Koivu has averaged more than 20 minutes per game in six of the past seven seasons, always posting strong relative puck possession stats, a trend that has been tilted even more as Koivu is used in a more offensive role when it comes to zone starts. His rep wouldnt be hurt by better playoff production, since Koivu has a goal and six assissts in 18 playoff games over the past two years. When Mikael Granlund arrived in the NHL last year, he was hyped as a potential star, because he was already a dazzling scoring machine in Finland who had nearly a point-per-game in the AHL, but Granlund struggled as a rookie, maanging eight points in 27 games. He was a little better early in his second season before taking off in January, and finished the year with 26 points (5 G, 21 A) in his last 34 games. He still needs to generate more shots on goal, but expectations are once again high for Granlunds offensive potential. Erik Haula started last season in the AHL, but earned his promotion to the big club after scoring 14 goals and 27 points in 31 games. Haula spent much of the season on the fourth line, playing about 10 minutes a night, until late in the year when an injury to Granlund opened the door for a more offensive role and Haula finished the regular season with seven points in his last seven games, then added four goals and seven points in the playoffs, staking a claim to a bigger role which ought to continue next season. Power forward on the rise Charlie Coyle made progress in his second NHL season, even if he didnt finish so efficiently. Hes a big body and can be used as a complement to smaller skilled players on a scoring line or on a line like the Big Mans Line, with Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter, that he skated with in the playoffs. While his suspension in the playoffs understandably brought his ugly repuation back into the light, Matt Cooke had largely changed how he plays the game. Hes no saint, to be sure, but he is a useful checker, who gets force-fed tough minutes with defensive zone starts against quality opposition. Kyle Brodziak has been taking on tough assignments pretty regularly, with fewer than 42% offensive zone starts for six straight seasons, the last three while facing a relatively high level of competition, and while that role leads to poor relative possession stats, last seasons were the worst of his career. 32-year-old winger Stephane Veilleux split last season between Minnesota and Iowa of the AHL. He brings energy, but also has five points in 55 NHL games since the Wild re-acquired him in 2011-2012. It was thought that the Wild might have fleeced the Islanders last summer, acquiring Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck and, for the most part, that looks to be the case, as 21-year-old Niederreiter scored 36 points in 81 games all while providing a physical presence and holding his own in possession terms. Justin Fontaines goal production was inflated by a shooting percentage (16.5%) that he wont likely maintain, but the 26-year-old earned a mostly regular role, playing primarily with Cooke and Brodziak. It has been rumoured for some time that the Wild may be the preferred landing spot for unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek. If the Wild are interested, Vanek could fill a role as a scoring winger, sort of what they were bargaining for when they acquired Matt Moulson at the trade deadline. Returning Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Ryan Suter 70.00 82 8 35 43 48.6% $7.538M Jared Spurgeon 70.19 67 5 21 26 52.2% $2.667M Marco Scandella 66.25 76 3 14 17 49.5% $1.025M Jonas Brodin 62.75 79 8 11 19 47.0% $894K Keith Ballard 59.96 45 2 7 9 45.9% $1.5M Free Agent Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Clayton Stoner 60.87 63 1 4 5 47.5% UFA $1.8M Nate Prosser 60.00 53 2 6 8 46.5% UFA $825K Hes on the small side, which can present problems against bigger forwards, but Jared Spurgeon is steady, posting good possession numbers while playing more than 22 minutes a night. He is earning respect, not least of all from Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane in the post-series handshake line. The only skater in the league play more than 3500 minutes over the past two seasons, Ryan Suter has possibly been overused because his possession numbers have declined compared to his time in Nashville. This doesnt mean Suter isnt a very valuable two-way defenceman, just that he could be spread a little thin by playing more than 29 minutes a night. By contrast, Marco Scandella is someone who might be able to handle more minutes, putting up solid numbers last season in a defence-first role and earning more ice time late in the year and into the playoffs. Hailed for his outstanding rookie season in 2012-2013, Jonas Brodin wasnt as effective in his second season, seeing his ice time reduced in the last quarter of the year, but hes a 20-year-old who has already played big minutes and that puts him in a relatively rare group. It was probably worth a look to see if Keith Ballard could rebound with a fresh start away from Vancouver, but he couldnt establish himself as part of Minnesotas top six on defence, playing a career-low 13:37 per game while dressing in 45 games. The 31-year-old has a year left on his contract, which could help him keep a depth role on a defence that may have some openings. While there could be openings for prospects like Mathew Dumba and Christian Folin on the blueline, the Wild may want to take a run at a proven veteran like Willie Mitchell, Stephane Robidas or Brooks Orpik could add some experience. Returning Goaltenders Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Cap Hit Josh Harding 72.13 29 18 7 3 1.66 .933 $1.9M Niklas Backstrom 62.62 21 5 11 2 3.02 .899 $3.417M Free Agent Goaltenders Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Darcy Kuemper 72.80 26 12 8 4 2.43 .915 RFA $900K Ilya Bryzgalov 68.83 32 12 9 8 2.68 .909 UFA $2.266M Josh Harding was enjoying a storybook season when issues related to his MS kept him out of the lineup after December 31. Hes expected to be ready for training camp, and that makes the Wild a better team, but other options need to be readily available since Harding has never played more than 34 games in an NHL season. Niklas Backstrom has battled injuries recently and the 36-year-old is coming off his worst NHL season. If Backstrom is healthy, he should still be a contributor, but there may not be a team with more questions hanging on the health of their goaltenders. When Backstrom and Harding went down with injuries, Darcy Kuemper stepped in and gave the Wild credible goaltending (.921 SV% in 24 GP from January on), but also got hurt late in the year and in the playoffs. Nonetheless, the 24-year-old is an up-and-comer who could have a significant role again next season depending on the health of Harding and Backstrom. Top Prospects Player Pos. Team/League Stats Mathew Dumba D Portland (WHL) 8-16-24, +31, 26 GP Christian Folin D UMass-Lowell (HE) 6-14-20, +10, 41 GP Jason Zucker LW Iowa (AHL) 8-5-13, -8, 22 GP Gustav Olofsson D Colorado College (NCHC) 4-4-8, -12, 30 GP Michael Keranen RW Ilves-Tampere (SML) 17-35-52, +12, 52 GP Zack Phillips C Iowa (AHL) 12-21-33, -30, 76 GP Mario Lucia LW Notre Dame (HE) 16-15-31, +1, 40 GP Tyler Graovac C Iowa (AHL) 13-12-25, -23, 64 GP Brett Bulmer RW Iowa (AHL) 11-8-19, -10, 43 GP Raphael Bussieres LW Iowa (AHL) 5-14-19, -5, 61 GP Johan Gustafsson G Iowa (AHL) 2.98 GAA, .903 SV%, 40 GP A dynamic puck-moving defenceman who plays more physically than his size might suggest, Mathew Dumba started last season with the Wild, and fared all right in a sheltered role, before he ripped up the WHL on a powerhouse Portland team. The 2012 first-rounder should have a legit shot at sticking for real next season. Swedish rearguard Christian Folin was signed following his sophomore season at UMass-Lowell and got into one game with the Wild. He has the size, strength and poise to handle the pro game now, so hell compete for a spot with the Wild in camp. Jason Zucker was a second-round pick in 2010 and has a dozen points (8 G, 4 A) in 47 career games with the Wild. He has some offensive upside, but had a hard time cracking the Minnesota lineup last season and has never put up decent possession numbers in the NHL. A second-round pick last summer, Gustav Olofsson is a 6-foot-4 defenceman who can skate and he left school after one year at Colorado College, joining Iowa for eight games. Hes only 19, so has lots of room to develop before hes considered for a spot with the Wild. 24-year-old forward Michael Keranen was signed after a breakout season in Finland, tying for the league lead with 52 points in 52 games. If he can handle the North American game, the creative forward could offer another scoring option. Taken in the first-round in 2011, Zack Phillips is skilled, but has to improve his skating and refine his play without the puck if hes going to challenge for a spot. Next season could be crucial for the 21-year-old to determine which way hes going to go as a pro. A winger with good size who can score, Mario Lucia has completed two seasons with Notre Dame and has more time to fill out his 6-foot-3 frame before embarking on a pro career. 6-foot-5 centre Tyler Graovac broke through offensively in his final junior season, scoring 38 goals, and improved as his first pro campaign progressed. The 2011 seventh-round pick could be a steal if he continues on his upward trend. A big physical winger who has played 14 games with the Wild, Brett Bulmer has battled injuries, but remains an intriguing prospect if he can stay healthy. Drafted in the second round in 2012, Raphael Bussieres didnt produce much in his first pro campaign, but hes only 20-years-old. See if he can raise his game over the next year or two to throw his name into the mix for a spot in Minnesota. A sixth-round pick in 2010, Johan Gustafsson made the move to North America last season and needs consistency and improvement if hes going to take the next step. While hes already played 106 NHL games, it may be worth keeping an eye on Jonathon Blum, a restricted free agent who didnt hurt the Wild in 15 games that he played with the big club last season. Wild advanced stats and player usage chart from Extra Skater DRAFT18th - Alex Tuch, David Pastrnak, Dylan Larkin FREE AGENCYAccording to www.capgeek.com, the Wild have approximately $46.8M committed to the 2014-2015 salary cap for 15 players. Check out my possible Wild lineup for next season on Cap Geek here. Needs: One top six forward, depth forwards, one top four defenceman, depth defencemen.What I said the Wild needed last year: One top nine forward, depth forwards, depth defence, starting goaltender.They added: Nino Niederreiter, Matt Cooke, Justin Fontaine, Keith Ballard, Mathew Dumba. TRADE MARKETJustin Fontaine, Jason Zucker, Kyle Brodziak, Niklas Backstrom. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Custom Pittsburgh Penguins Jerseys . The R&A announced Monday that golfs oldest championship will return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since Max Faulkner won in 1951. Mark Recchi Penguins Jersey .5 million. The 25-year-old Varlamov is thriving under first-year coach and Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, posting a 26-9-5 record with a 2. http://www.penguinsauthenticofficial.com/bryan-rust-jersey/ . The club says its first-choice centre back "underwent medical tests on Wednesday morning" which confirmed he has injured his right hamstring. The injury was caused in the second minute of Tuesdays 4-1 league win over Real Sociedad in the Camp Nou when teammate Sergio Busquets accidentally struck Mascherano just above the knee with an outstretched boot. MINNEAPOLIS -- After a 13-inning victory the night before, the long-shot Cleveland Indians held out hope that they could still sneak into the playoffs. They were dealt a serious setback Friday night. Trevor Plouffe singled in Danny Santana in the 10th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 5-4, comeback victory over Cleveland, further damaging the Indians already slim playoff hopes. "It sucks. You got a lead and you end up losing," said starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who struck out six in six innings. "We dug ourselves a hole and were in a tough position. Everything is magnified right now. All these losses, they stink." Santana led off the ninth with a single off Kyle Crockett (4-1) and advanced to third on Brian Doziers single to right-centre. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Crockett struck out rookie slugger Kennys Vargas, who homered in the game. Josh Tomlin entered the game to face Plouffe, who dropped a two-strike pitch just in front of lunging centre-fielder Michael Bourn. "Its not exactly where we want to be, wed rather be on their side. But were just trying to continue to play good baseball, not giving up," Plouffe said. "We know were out of it, but this is the time for a lot of guys to show they can play in a situation like this, against these good teams late in the season, and I think we did a pretty good job." With Minnesota trailing 4-3 in the ninth, Kurt Suzuki hit a one-out double off closer Cody Allen and was replaced by pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez. Nunez moved to third on Oswaldo Arcias single and scored to tie it when Aaron Hicks grounded into a fielders choice. It was a tough play, but shortstop Jose Ramirez had an outside shot of turning a double play. He ranged over and stabbed his glove at Hicks grounder, but couldnt reel it in and settled for the force out at second. "He did what he could with it," Allen said. "It was a well-struck ball and he llaid out for it. Tom Barrasso Penguins Jersey. It was unfortunate the way everything turned out, but it was still a good play." Jared Burton (3-5) stranded Michael Brantley at second base to end the top of the 10th. Brantley homered and Lonnie Chisenhall had two hits and an RBI for Cleveland, which entered the night four games out of the final AL wild-card spot. Cleveland rallied to beat Houston 2-1 on Thursday night. Oswaldo Arcia homered for Minnesota in the third off Bauer. It was Arcias fourth homer this season off Bauer. Josh Tomlin was the eighth reliever by Cleveland, which set an American League record during the game by going to the bullpen 547 times this season. Detroit and Kansas City sit atop the AL Central and play a three-game series this weekend. Cleveland needs one of those teams to sweep the other, then some help from Oakland and Seattle if they want any chance at sneaking into the playoffs. "Nobodys going to quit," Francona said. TRAINERS ROOM TWINS: All-Star closer Glen Perkins has been shut down for the season with a strain and nerve irritation in his left forearm. Twins GM Terry Ryan said Perkins should be ready in plenty of time for spring training after an off-season strengthening and maintenance program. Ryan said SS Eduardo Escobar should return from a jammed shoulder in the next couple of days. INDIANS: 2B Jason Kipnis missed the game with a sore right hamstring. Francona said Kipnis could be back for Saturdays game. OF Ryan Raburn underwent surgery on his left knee Friday to repair a lateral meniscus tear, ending his season. He hit .200 with four homers and 22 RBIs after signing a two-year, $4.85 million contract extension in the off-season. UP NEXT Twins rookie Trevor May (3-4, 7.71) will try to win his fourth straight after losing the first four starts of his career. T.J. House (3-3, 3.42) will make his 17th career start. Hell be pitching on nine days rest and is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA against the Twins. Wholesale NFL T-shirts Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping NFL Jerseys Wholesale China NFL Gear Wholesale NFL Camo Jerseys Cheap NFL Hoodies Camo China NFL Jerseys ' ' '