The goaltending has been bad. The defense in front of the goaltenders has been awful. The penalty kill has been disgusting. The lack of discipline has been alarming.
Yes, enough has gone haywire with the Wild to warrant coach Dean Evason's ousting after 19 games. The special teams and defense buckled, and this team is not good enough to outscore their problems. Bill Guerin, president of hockey operations, made the call on Monday, ending Evason's four-plus seasons in charge.
In comes John Hynes, who's close to Guerin, to provide a spark and resuscitate the season. Hynes, who coached the Predators and Devils, is defensive-minded and detail-oriented. He will need a Paul Bunyan-sized boot to give the team the kick in the pants it needs.
But do the Wild really need to salvage the season? Or is making room for the next wave of talent and focusing on the future the better way for the Wild to spend the next few months?
There are several underperforming players on the roster, without a doubt. Who has kidnapped Matt Boldy and replaced him with an impostor? How did the goaltending go from being a strength to an enormous concern?
But even with everyone in top form, the Wild still aren't a Stanley Cup threat.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, but the Wild are not built for a lengthy postseason run. Evason led them to 100-plus points in each of the last two seasons, only to suffer first-round playoff exits each time. They don't look like a 100-point team this season. The woebegone Blackhawks have more wins than the Wild, for goodness sakes.
Tank is a strong word. Perhaps reset is a better one. The Wild should use this as a year to reset.
That's tough for a competitor like Guerin and an owner like Craig Leipold to absorb, but the poor start to the season means it will require a gigantic reversal of fortune to just reach the playoffs as a wild card. They should instead consider making the best of a difficult situation, and a reset moves them one year closer to getting out from under the $15 million in dead cap money from buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which ends following the 2024-25 season.
That's three $5 million players worth of cap spaces. Evason could have used that kind of help.
Embracing a reset-season mentality would allow for another year of development of talented prospects like goalie Jesper Wallstedt and defenseman Carson Lambos. Next season could bring the debuts of forwards Danila Yurov and Marat Khusnutdinov, who have contracts in the KHL that expire after this season. There is top-six scoring on the way.
And a losing season could land the Wild in the draft lottery, where Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini is lighting up the NCAA and could be the top prize.
This doesn't have to be a teardown. The Wild have too many contracts with no-move clauses to clean house anyway. And Kirill Kaprizov is 26 years old and still in his prime. It's tantalizing to think what the Wild will look like over the next couple of seasons when it's time to harvest the farm system. Focusing on the future wouldn't require a hard sell to their passionate and loyal fan base.
Guerin has probably stopped reading this by now. Resetting is not part of his makeup. He's bringing in Hynes to get results. He's bringing in Hynes to fix the broken special teams, discover the real Boldy and help Kaprizov remember what it's like to score even-strength goals.
By making the move, the standards have been reinforced. Guerin wants to win. It's always about winning with him.
If there was a year for the Wild to play its way into a top-10 or top-five pick in the next draft, a 5-10-4 record through 19 games should be the catalyst. Instead, Guerin went for the spark.
He needs to get this one right, or he could be next on the hot seat.