Young players stepping up, playing key role in Wild success

The Minnesota Wild have an entire team of players contributing this season and that's a big reason why they've been successful.  But in addition to the veteran leaders, there are other younger players having seasons to remember, and hopefully it's just getting started.

The Wild are still very well represented by their older leaders. Just this week, Jason Pominville was named the NHL’s First Star, along with good weeks from other vets, including Zach Parise.

It's been a process for some players in the Wild system, but their patience is playing a vital role in this season's success, with many young players taking the lead.

"We feel that we have to. We’re not so young anymore,” Zucker said. “We feel that we have to come in and play our game and do the right things.”

Zucker, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle are not new to the big stage, but this year could be considered their biggest one yet.

Granlund leads the team in points, and all three have set career highs in total points so far with 27 games still to go. And there are still 27 games to go.

"It's not one guy who’s pulling the weight for everyone,” Coyle said. "It’s everyone who is getting rewarded. It seems like every other night it’s a different guy or a different line.”

Zucker and Granland are on one of the hottest lines in the league right now, but they’re attributing some of that success to their veteran center, Mikko Koivu.

“He takes care of us if we do something stupid, I guess,” Granlund said.

“He’s the grumpy father of the line,” Zucker said.

No matter the relationship with Koivu, it's working for the young guys and the captain can tell their effort is making a difference...

"You can see it, every year they’ve been getting better,” Koivu said. “Now, I think you can see their complete game and the consistency they have and I think that’s where the experience comes in.”

The points are piling up game in and game out, but with so much of the season still to go they're hoping to make a point that this team is for real.

“It’s something that guys are, in my opinion, not satisfied with that,” Zucker said. “They’re still working to get better. You know, this is where the fun actually gets started.”

Those three guys not the only ones on the verge of big seasons. Nino Niederreiter leads the team in goals this year, and he is one point shy of tying his career high for points in a season.

So this year has been a combination of veteran leadership, young guys executing and new head coach Bruce Boudreau of course, setting the tone since day one.