We have another case of recent expansion teams turned division rivals, and the odd case of the franchises being the same age, but the Predators having played more seasons than the Minnesota Wild.
Just like the Winnipeg Jets, the Wild are entering their 24th season, just one shy of the Nashville Predators total.
When Minnesota finally got a franchise back, it was the writing of a wrong. Minnesota is one of the hockey hotbeds of America and shouldn’t have ever been without one. We’ll break down the comparisons thus far and see how they project out this year.
Regular Season Records
Playing an extra season helps the Predators, but even so, their success has powered them to a better record than the Wild. Through the first 23 seasons, the Wild’s record is 858-646-55-172 (1943 points). That’s a decent enough record, but 939-718-60-178 (2116 points) for the Predators puts them well ahead.
Single Season Records
For both teams, 2021-22 was the year to score. Really embracing AC/DC’s mantra “Shoot To Thrill” was Kirill Kaprizov, who scored 47 goals and 108 points, both franchise highs for the Wild.
In 2021-22 Matt Duchene’s 43 goals paced the franchise mark, as did Roman Josi’s 96 points. There’s nobody on the team I’d bet would get to Duchene’s total this season, let alone Kaprizov’s, so I think those totals will stand this year.
For goalies, wins have us with Rinne’s 43 in 2011-12 besting the 40 of Devan Dubnyk from the 2016-17 season.
The best single-season save percentage and goals-against average goes to Pekka Rinne, circa 2010-2011 with .930% and 2.12 GAA. Dubnyk has the save percentage mark with .936% from 2014-15 and Josh Harding posts the goals against average with an absurd 1.66, albeit in only 26 starts.
You can probably guess who has the most career Wild goals. Marian Gaborik’s prolific goal-scoring talent was well known, and he potted 219 for the Wild.
Advantage goes to the Predators here with Filip Forsberg have 239 and counting.
Career Wild points go to Mikko Koviu with 709. He was Mr. Consistent and had a 15-year tenure with the team. Roman Josi is sitting at 601 after 12 seasons, looking to be in a good position to push past that number.
Nicklas Backstrom owns the Wild wins category with 194 while Dwayne Roloson has a save percentage of .919 and a goals-against average with 2.28. Rinne’s 369 wins will be tough for anyone to match, while Juuse Saros has taken a save percentage of .919, Rinne still has goals against average at 2.43.
Frankly, it’s not a contest. Gnash over Nordy any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Head To Head Record
For the time being, the record leans towards the Predators. They have the advantage with a 44-27-9 record with five ties against the Wild, which leaves Minnesota a lot of ground to cover. Currently, the pair have never met in the playoffs.
Historically, it’s been a low scoring head-to-head matchup. Both teams have averaged less than three goals per game against each other, with Nashville having the slight edge at 2.91 to 2.65.
The Predators have their sixth-highest point percentage at 60 percent against the Wild, and the eighth-most wins with 44.
And how about this overtime game-winner over the Wild just this past season with a between the legs goal from Juuso Parssinen?
2023-24 Season Outlook
The Wild had a big roster turnover. Gone are D Matt Dumba, RW Ryan Reaves, LW Gustav Nyquist, C Sam Steel, C/W Mason Shaw, D John Klingberg, and C/W Oskar Sundqvist. They brought in Pat Maroon to fill in the gap left by Reeves, and Vinni Letteri is…a guy. They’ve taken care of some of their players with contract extensions like Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello, and Filip Gustavsson, but they are much closer to blowing up the team than it seems.
Kirill Kaprizov is obviously the big gun, and Matt Boldy emerged as an established scorer last year playing with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson. They just don’t have the secondary scoring to keep up, and the defense core led by Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin is good, but nothing special.
If the Predators can right the ship the way we assume they can, they have a good chance at vaulting over the former playoff team.
Now both teams will be fighting to grab one of the last playoff spots for the Central Division, or perhaps a wild card spot. The Predators should (as long as the Brunette system doesn’t falter) be in a better position to do well. Their rebuild is ahead of schedule while the Wild’s looks like it could be looming.