- The Minnesota Wild fired head coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday
- Boudreau’s teams have reached 100 points every single season, but the Wild are on pace for just 88 points this year
- The Wild are three points out of a playoff spot. Will this spark a serious run in the postseason?
The Minnesota Wild are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games and are just two points out of a playoff spot. That didn’t stop them from breaking up with head coach Bruce Boudreau on Valentine’s Day.
Will this be the spark that the Wild need to not only make the playoffs but finally make a run?
Odds to Win the Western Conference
|Team||2020 Western Conference Odds|
|St Louis Blues||+400|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+900|
|San Jose Sharks||+10000|
|Los Angeles Kings||+50000|
Odds as of Feb. 14, 2020.
Wild Fire Boudreau
It hasn’t been a good year for head coaches in the NHL as Boudreau’s firing marked the eighth coach to get replaced this year. That means more than a quarter of the teams in the league have changed bench bosses.
Overall, Boudreau survived three separate General Managers for the team but Bill Guerin decided it was time for a change.
The main issue was the Wild’s production this season. While they had finished with 100+ points in each of the last two seasons, they’re on pace for about 88 points this year.
We can point to another blown lead at home in Thursday’s loss to the New York Rangers or the team’s horrendous penalty kill (second-worst), but he was hanging by a thread for a while.
Many people felt he’d be a goner after the team lost six of seven back in January. At any rate, it still feels a bit harsh as this marks the first time that a Boudreau-coached team won’t hit the century mark.
Wild Are a Broken Team
It’s probably safe to say that the Wild outperformed their talent under Boudreau. Let’s be honest: the fact that they’re even in the playoff conversation is impressive. Alex Stalock is the team’s No. 1 goaltender and while he’s overachieved, he is not someone that’s going to do much more than bring you to the playoffs.
The problem with Stalock, starter-turned-backup Devan Dubnyk and a number of other players on this roster is that they’re over-the-hill. Stalock is 32 and Dubnyk is 33. The leaders on this team are Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Ryan Suter, and they’re all 35 years old.
When you start to look up and down the roster and think about who is underachieving right now, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone. That’s why firing Boudreau doesn’t make a ton of sense. Maybe guys like Kevin Fiala, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato are the future, but it’s not as if they’ve played badly.
And don’t forget about their salary cap, which is a mess right now. Parise and Suter are each making $7.5 million per year through 2025 – that’s five more years! Staal is signed through next season at $3.25 million, which isn’t bad, but Mats Zuccarello is making $6 million per year through 2024.
Just like every time Bruce Boudreau changes jobs I have no doubt that..
A. His old team will be worse
B. His new team will be better
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 14, 2020
Dubnyk is now at $4.3 million to be a backup and even someone like Matt Dumba, who is making $6 million a year through 2023 is a question mark. In total, the Wild are spending about $35 million on a lot of players who don’t really move the needle for them.
That’s the problem for the Wild; not Boudreau. Until they get out of salary cap hell and figure out a way to get a number of these huge contracts off the books, they’ll stuck be in the 80 or 90-point range.
What’s The Best Bet?
There are times where firing a head coach can spark a team and initiate a turnaround. However, in my eyes, the Wild haven’t exactly underachieved. They’re playing to the level of talent they have. Could they possibly use this as a catalyst and make the playoffs? Yes.
I'm not sure I agree that the first two steps in fixing the Minnesota Wild were to trade Zucker and fire Boudreau.
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) February 14, 2020
Are they worth a bet to win their division, the Western Conference odds or win the Stanley Cup futures? Absolutely not.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.