The Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville line, assembled in interim coach John Torchetti’s first game, was the Wild’s best line the final two months of the season.
Mikael Granlund appeared more productive and threatening at left wing instead of center; and Charlie Coyle was solid at both positions, although his ineffectiveness in the faceoff circle was a detriment in the playoffs.
These are things General Manager Chuck Fletcher has not told new coach Bruce Boudreau and, frankly, might not.
“As crazy as it sounds,” Fletcher said Tuesday he doesn’t want to offer too many opinions. He wants Boudreau to come in with fresh eyes and no preconceived notions.
“Certainly I’ll give him my opinion if he asks for it, but I want to be a little bit careful giving him too much information,” Fletcher said. “He intends to watch some video. He’s a smart guy. He knew our team pretty well during the interview process. Philosophically, we agreed on how the game has to be played, but I’m as interested in hearing where he thinks our needs are and where he thinks players should play.”
As good as Granlund was in the playoffs at wing, and as good as he has been in the world championships at wing, Boudreau said, “I’ve always thought of Granlund as a center. He’s always played center against us [in Anaheim]. I’m sure he’s capable of playing other positions, but that’s where I see him unless I’m told differently.”
Left-shot defenseman Jonas Brodin has played the right side for much of his Wild career. Boudreau’s philosophy is he’d rather all players playing their strong side rather than their weak side.
“Some can do it, some can’t,” Boudreau said. “Those are little preferences I have. But we’ll make it fit if there is no fit. If you have nine righthanded shooters, three are going to play on the left side, and we’ll make it work.”
Defenseman Ryan Suter led the NHL in ice time in three of his four seasons with the Wild. He’s been a staple on the No. 1 power-play unit. Suter’s average ice time may decrease.
“I’m going to talk to Ryan and see how he feels about everything,” Boudreau said. “I know in the past, very rarely I’ve had a team that [has] a player that’s played 25 minutes or more. Last year [in Anaheim], we were No. 1 on the power play, and we had two units.
“We had a first unit, but if they weren’t going good, the second unit would jump in. I think you need two units, whether you’re on the first one or the second one, it didn’t really matter. [Ryan] Kesler was on the second one, [Ryan] Getzlaf was on the first one. Whoever you put out there, you knew you were getting something good.”
Boudreau also has other tendencies.
“My passion will show through,” he said. “I love the game so much. We’ll be doing a lot of sayings, and quotes on boards, and video pump-up tapes and stuff like that. I just like looking at those things, and it works.
“I think of myself as the complete average man, so if it works on me, it will work on somebody else.”
Some of the quotes he likes come from Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Pat Riley.
“The Bruce Boudreau originals end up with guys laughing at me. One time I got so excited, I said, ‘You’ve gotta take the bull by the head.’ You’re trying to do the right phrase, then guys are sort of looking around saying, ‘What’s he talking about?’ When I get excited sometimes, like I tell the players, I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth next, but it’s going to be from the heart.”
• Fletcher said he has not yet decided if he’ll buy out the final year of Thomas Vanek’s contract. The window starts June 15, or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later.
• Both the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks have permission to talk to former Wild coach Mike Yeo about their head coaching positions. Yeo, an assistant coach for Canada at the world championships, is expected to interview for the Flames job with GM Brad Treliving in Russia on Wednesday.
• It’s believed the Wild is close to signing 2014 sixth-round draft pick Chase Lang, who had 25 goals for Vancouver of the Western Hockey League last season and played 11 games in Iowa. The Wild also must sign sixth-round pick Reid Duke by June 1. If it cannot or isn’t interested in signing him, the Wild could trade his rights. Duke scored 33 goals for Brandon of the WHL.