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Last season the team barely squeeked into the playoffs getting in by means outside of their control. A fluke. No way around that reality. Based on playoff performance it showed Minnesota was outclassed easily and probably shouldn't have been in the playoffs to begin with. Heading into summer, with a lot of internal options ready to fill depth, free agency wasn't much of a priority for the team. A few lowball offers here and there just in case but no surprise signings. Regardless of last season's performance and the summer's free agency period, expectations were raised for the 2021-2022 season based on player re-rates.   

The Hoover rankings had this to say about the Wild in the list of contenders:

"9.   Minnesota   -   Key:   B-,   Core:   B,   Depth:   A-,   Offense:   A-,   Defense:   B-,   Intangibles: B,   Goaltending:   C-,   Salary cap:   A,   Assets: A,     Hoover Grade:   A   -   Wild have cap space and tons of assets to be an adder as the season goes on. They're in great position to fill the holes they discover and already have a good roster. Minny is a team I could see starting mediocre in the first half, make a couple adds, and go on a tear in the 2nd half.

Here is how the standings will look based on these rankings:

WEST:

Vancouver*
Colorado*
Calgary
Chicago
Nashville
Dallas
Minnesota
Winnipeg

Based on only Hoover Grade, the top 6 teams, to me, are all in the WEST! To point out a bias - I did rank all the teams by their scores prior to me assigning my own grades. 

1 Vancouver
2 Calgary
3 Minnesota

Adding to this, the new and hopefully annual ranking out of Toronto, had this to say about the Wild:

"Minnesota was the 8th and final playoff team last year. Wanna talk defense. HOLY FUCK. This team is hands down the best defesive team in the league. No question. Ya i smell more playoffs as long as Hart can hold up. Minny might give up 50 goals all year. im serious. "

 

Expectations are high. Can reality match these expectations? So far in pre-season...no. A record of 2-3-1 isn't ideal. 5 of those 6 contests were 1-goal games. "Quite frankly, we just weren't good enough. We've seen a lot of the issues that were there last year. Injuries. Low scoring. We will not be as patient as last year." - GM Peter

The west is extremely tough this year. There will be one or two playoff calibre teams, maybe even three, that will not make it. Hopefully Minnesota will not be one of those teams. Management will evaluate the team in 20 game blocks and go from there.