The Minnesota Wild have been surprising many this season, ranking second overall in the NHL and first overall in the Central Division with a record of 38-13-6. As of right now, they are in more than solid playoff positioning and are looking like more of a Cup Contender than ever in their history.
The success this season is due to many reasons. Stellar goaltending from Devan Dubnyk, a top pick for this year’s Vezina Trophy ranking first in the league in wins (31) and save percentage (.933), an offensive explosion from newcomer Eric Staal who already has 44 points after netting 39 all of last season, and a defense that has combined for 119 points. However, an emerging face continues to show why he will be an important piece for the team for years to come. That face is Charlie Coyle. The 24-year old winger turned center in is the middle of his best season of his career, currently with 14 goals and 30 assists, totaling 44 points in 57 games played. He is tied for second place on the team with Staal, and trails Mikael Granlund (51 points) by seven. In 82 games played last season, Coyle had 42 points, so just by looking at the raw numbers we can see how much he has improved.
Charlie Coyle has set a new career high in points (43) with 27 games + 23 minutes left in the season. #mnwild
— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) February 12, 2017
The real reason for Coyle’s play and excellent point production this season is his ability to be a true playmaker, using his speed and explosiveness to split defenses, his hands to navigate through opposition, and finally his offensive awareness to pass the puck away to a teammate who buries it most of the time. He has proven to be one of the Wild’s best offensive weapons. His 695 on-ice shot attempts for when on the ice rank fifth on the squad, citing the chances his line is getting and the point totals that have resulted.
Early in the season Coyle was on fire, going night in and night out with points contributed, scoring seven goals and 14 points in the first 20 games. However, as of late, has cooled down a bit and has been struggling to find the back of the net. While he has always been good for an assist, Coyle has not been finding his goal scoring touch. On Feb. 12 against the Detroit Red Wings, Coyle scored his first goal in 17 games. Yes that is quite the dry spell, but within that 17 game span, Coyle tallied ten helpers. As a side note, Coyle has had eight multi-point (two points or more) games this year. He doesn’t need to be a sniper on a team that has ten double-digit goal scorers. Him and Granlund fill the top playmaker roles, and Nino Niederreiter (19 goals), who leads the team, could be regarded as the “sniper.”
Based on the year already and how may games are left, Coyle should come out to around 60 points. That number alone goes to show that he is quite a solid playmaker and offensive weapon. Even his current 44 show that he is an emerging force. .77 points per game and .53 assists per game isn’t too shabby either, as he’s right behind Granlund for the team lead in both categories. Coyle is a reliable, determined player who can get the puck, wheel his way into the offensive zone and set up a play/make one that leads to either himself or a teammate scoring. If the team hopes to finally make it out of the first round of playoff contention, they need everything they’ve gotten from their balanced lineup throughout the season, and that starts with Coyle.