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Continued: Four keys to the Wild season

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  • Last update: October 2, 2013 - 6:35 PM


The mobile blue line

Yeo has tweaked the system to try to become more of a puck possession team, and one big reason is to try to mold a system around the Wild’s mobile blue line.

The Wild’s potential top-six defensemen to start the season — Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Keith Ballard and maybe ultimately rookie Matt Dumba — can all skate. Veteran defenseman Clayton Stoner is also mobile for a big man.

The Wild wants to carry the puck into the offensive zone more, and a lot of that will have to do with defensemen who are now free to jump into the play.

Suter finished second among NHL defensemen with 28 assists last season, Brodin is looking to produce more points, and Ballard, who has a big shot and can move the puck, might be a big help.


The masked men

The Wild inquired about trading for a handful of goaltenders during the offseason, but in the end, Niklas Backstrom, who turns 36 in February, was re-signed for three years.

Backstrom, the franchise leader with 184 wins and 28 shutouts, was ridden hard last season when Josh Harding was lost for two months because of side effects from a new medication to treat multiple sclerosis. Backstrom struggled in April and eventually sustained a sports hernia minutes before Game 1 of the playoffs. The Vezina Trophy runner-up in 2008 needs to return to form, but the Wild also needs Harding to push after a strong training camp.

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