• The Vikings need a draft like 2015 instead of 2016 if they’re going to add to their depth in 2017. In 2015 they selected Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, T.J. Clemmings and Stefon Diggs, who were all key contributors this season. Meanwhile, last year’s rookie class failed to make an impact. First-round pick Laquon Treadwell had one catch all season, second-round pick Mackensie Alexander made five tackles and fourth-rounder Willie Beavers didn’t initially make the team. The Vikings also got a little bit out of later-round picks Kentrell Brothers, David Morgan, Stephen Weatherly and Jayron Kearse, the seventh-rounder who was the only rookie to play all 16 games, including one start at safety.
• Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said that while the team’s success this year will be important for luring free agents, the bigger issue will be signing young stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. “There’s two parts of that. No. 1, we have some players that are going to be big-name players, so when you look at your payroll and stuff like that you have to consider that,” said Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune. “I mean you want to keep your money for your own star players, too. But in answer to your question, I think it will be helpful that if we play well in the second half that there are players with experience who will see them coming here and playing with this team may get us over the hump. Everyone’s goal is to get deep into the playoffs.”
• The Gophers’ Vinni Lettieri was named the Big Ten’s second star for his play last weekend against Michigan. Coach Don Lucia noted how the senior’s play has gotten better each year since coming as a true freshman. Lettieri had 95 points in 50 regular-season games at Minnetonka, and then played with Lincoln of the USHL, where he had 56 points in 61 games. Now he has 20 points in 21 games for the Gophers, good for third on the team.