It’s tough to be a top team in the NHL without a solid power play. It was a massive problem for the Minnesota Wild during the 2021-22 season. Despite finishing fifth during the regular season, with 53 wins and 113 points, they were 18th in the league with a power-play that clicked at 20.5%. That needs to improve next season if the Wild hope to continue moving in the right direction.
However, with star forward Kevin Fiala seemingly on the way out of town, the Wild might have to look at the free-agent market for some help on the man advantage. Here’s a look at three players general manager Bill Guerin could target in free agency to help improve his team’s power play.
Andre Burakovsky is coming off a career year with the Colorado Avalanche, scoring 22 goals and 61 points, both career highs. He also earned a career-high average ice time (16:16) and continued being a strong puck-possession player. He then had eight points in 12 playoff games before getting injured.
He picked the perfect time to have a career season with his contract expiring, and he is in a prime position to get a lucrative contract. It might be challenging to afford him with the Wild’s salary cap crunch, but if Guerin can get creative and find a way, he could be of great use to the power play.
Burakovsky had 11 points on the power play this season but was never really a primary focus of attack for the Avalanche, with players such as Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen controlling the majority of touches. With so many stars on the Avalanche already and a handful of impact players heading towards free agency, Avs general manager Joe Sakic might have to let him walk this offseason.
He has a shot to be an elite goal scorer in the NHL, and on the Wild, he could be given more of an opportunity to do so for an entire season. He could be the perfect player to replace Fiala on the power play and at 5-on-5.
At 36, Paul Stastny has proven he is still a helpful second-line centre after recording 45 points in 71 games during the 2021-22 season with the Winnipeg Jets. He looks on the surface to be a perfect match for the Wild, and here’s why.
Of his 800 career points, 240 have come on the power play. He’s been a proven performer on the man advantage throughout his career and could bring lots of valuable experience to Minnesota.
Minnesota is also the closest team geographically to Winnipeg, so it might not be a massive disruption for him and his family if he would like to play for a different team in the final years of his career. It might also allow him to compete for a Stanley Cup in his final seasons, which he might not get with the Jets.
Lastly, he’s coming off a one-year deal that paid him just $3.75 million. Money might not be the priority in his next deal, as he might prefer situation and location, which would be a fantastic fit with the Wild. Stastny should undoubtedly be someone Guerin calls on the opening day of free agency.
After being acquired by the New York Rangers at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, Andrew Copp proved to be a key contributor to the team’s journey to the Eastern Conference Final. In 20 playoff games, Copp recorded six goals and 14 points while remaining a difficult power-forward to play against. His combination of speed and size makes him tough to slow down and could make him a perfect fit for the Wild next season.
The Wild love to play with speed and toughness, attributes that are evident in Copp’s game. He also has the skill and hockey IQ to play on the power play, and with players like superstar Kirill Kaprizov being the primary shooter, he could be allowed to focus on being the ultimate net-front presence on the man advantage. He could concentrate on screening goaltenders, tipping shots, and banging in rebounds, all of which should greatly help the Wild’s power play struggles.
He’s going to be a sought-after asset this summer and surely will be subject to a bidding war that could get too pricey for Guerin to justify. Still, Copp would be a significant addition to the Wild’s power play unit moving forward.
Whoever the organization brings in to help with the power play, Guerin and head coach Dean Evason must be confident in their abilities to move the needle. The names listed here are impact players who won’t come cheap, and the Wild need to be extremely careful about how they divide their cap space.
Regardless, one thing remains clear: the Wild have no choice but to approach their power play differently next season. Whether it’s through strategy or a change of personal, their power play wasn’t close to good enough for a team that considers itself a Stanley Cup contender.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.