Minnesota Adds Offense Up Front and On Blue Line

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2008

The Minnesota Wild had both offense and defense in mind coming into the free agent market this summer. After loosing in the first round of the playoffs the last two years, Minnesota is looking to add the missing pieces to carry them farther into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In a blog posted on the teams website, the Wild front office had three priorities in mind when shopping in the free agent market.

The first goal was to "Establish one of the top defensive corps in the Western Conference". Keeping young and talented defense-man Nick Shultz was step one, and the Wild did exactly that. Minnesota then acquired a top four defense man in Marek Zidlicky from the Nashville Predators.

Zidlicky is very mobile and a great puck mover in the offensive zone and is also very disciplined in his own zone, and with Jacques Lemaire's defensive minded game, he is a perfect fit.

He tallied five goals and 38 assists for 43 points in 79 games with the Predators last season.

The second goal was to "increase offense and puck possession without sacrificing the solid defensive identity of our team". Another defensive pickup Marc-Andre Bergeron from the New York Islanders will add to that as well scoring nine goals and 10 assists with New York last season.

On the offensive side, Minnesota brought back one of its most memorable players back from Colorado, Andrew Brunette.

Brunette works great down low especially behind the net and creates a lot of offense both on even strength and on the power play and will be a huge addition to Minnesota after loosing three time 30 goal scorer Brian Rolston.

Brunette as Minnesota fans will never forget scored the game winning goal in overtime against Colorado to win game seven 3-2 in the first overtime not only to help Minnesota over come a 3-1 game deficit, but also ended the career of the one of the leagues best goalies, Patrick Roy.

Last year with Colorado, Brunette had 19 goals and 40 assists for 59 points and played in every game with the Avalanche.

Two more offensive additions including Antti Mietinen from Dallas who tallied 15 goals and 19 assists last year with the Stars, will be a great two-way player for Minnesota.

Craig Weller, who signed from the Phoenix Coyotes, will add physicality and grit to the Minnesota line-up coming in at 6'4", 240 lbs, he will be a great presence on the ice for the Wild.

Minnesota Also retained some of its young core players such as Mikko Koivu, James Shepard and Brent Burns. Burns had a career-year last year adding 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points setting team records.

With the free agent acquisitions and the re-signing of key players, Minnesota will look forward this season to making another run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.