Apr 10, 2024 - Sports

The Minnesota Wild will miss the playoffs. Here's the good news.

A group of hockey players dressed in bright green and yellow uniforms with large white numbers huddle near the white boards of a hockey rink next to a coach wearing a dark suit, who's pointing and giving instructions.

The arrival of new head coach John Hynes in November nearly resuscitated the Minnesota Wild's playoff hopes. Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild's faint Stanley Cup hopes flickered out Tuesday when the team was mathematically eliminated from the NHL postseason after a 5-2 loss against the Colorado Avalanche.

Why it matters: Most oddsmakers predicted the Wild would be a playoff team. Instead, this season ends with only the Wild's second postseason miss since 2012 — and with fresh doubts sown among fans about GM Bill Guerin's master plan for the franchise.

The big picture: This season exposed every one of the Wild's weaknesses. The salary cap penalties from buying out two former players still hamper this team, making injuries to current stars much harder to overcome.

Yes, but: We'll have plenty of time for doubt later, Wild fans. Here are a few reasons for hope.

  • New head coach. We'll miss Dean Evason's hilarious reactions on the bench, but his replacement, John Hynes, nearly turned this season around. If you set aside a nightmare two-week stretch in January when the equivalent of half the team's payroll was injured, the Wild are 30-16-5 since Hynes took over.
  • Marco Rossi broke through. The long-touted rookie hit the 20-goal benchmark, proved he could be a playmaker, and looked far more confident on the ice than he did in a short tryout last season.
  • Brock Faber. He's funny. He's from Maple Grove. He's a shutdown defenseman. He's got offensive potential. He's gonna cost this team a boatload in 2025… but who cares! The Wild have effectively replaced Matt Dumba with a generational talent.
  • Kirill Kaprizov. Last week, he became the first player in Wild franchise history to notch three 40-goal seasons.
  • Only one more year of salary cap hell. After the 2024-25 season, most of the cap penalty from buying out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — $14.7 million, the equivalent of 17% of the payroll — goes away.

Bottom line: Focus on that light at the end of the tunnel. We have to.

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