Jan 29, 2020

By Tom Witosky

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When Iowa Wild General Manager Tom Kurvers was asked to explain the AHL club’s best start in the franchise’s seven-year history, his assessment was a simple one.

“We have some players with talent,” Kurvers said on a recent visit to Des Moines. “We don't have any players who are trying to get by on talent alone.”

That is what Iowa Wild fans are seeing this season – a hard-working, never-give-up team consisting of lower-round draft choices, free agents, and a few gnarly veterans building the club’s best record at midseason in team history. All of that, despite a moderate number of call-ups to the NHL and an inordinate number of injuries to some of the club’s top players.

“I’m very pleased with the competitive environment that the players are giving night after night,” Kurvers said. “I am satisfied with the record and really satisfied when you consider the volume of injuries to veteran players.”

Tim Army, the Wild’s head coach, declined to give any kind of specific assessment of the Wild’s season so far, but acknowledged the team has overcome injuries, difficult travel schedules, and strong competition to put the club in a good position to make the Calder Cup playoffs.

“From the last practice before the season began, we’ve not played with what we perceived to be our full lineup all year long,” Army said. “But, I like the way we have played. I like the contributions from everyone. We've been able to maintain an expectation of the standard that we've made and have been able to maintain that standard of play.”

Kurvers agreed, adding that Minnesota has benefitted from the farm club’s development of players already this season. Specifically, he mentioned the work of former Iowa Wild defenseman Carson Soucy, who had been expected to play most of the season in Iowa, and goalie Kaapo Kahkonen’s 3-1-0-1 record with Minnesota.

“When you look at the success of Carson Soucy in Minnesota, the performance that Kaapo gave the Wild when he went up, and the performances of other players who stepped into the lineup to fill in, that says that things are going right here,” Kurvers said.

Deadline looming

Trade talks will likely start growing once February arrives and the trade deadline approaches. Just what the Wild front office intends to do will eventually reveal itself, but Kurvers said any impact on Iowa’s roster will be a factor in the decision-making.

“We will try to make sure we don't deplete Iowa in anything we do. We will have a sense of what impact it can have here because we want our young guys to continue with the environment that they've earned so far.”


Gerry Mayhew’s remarkable season so far has even caught him slightly by surprise. Asked what has changed, the AHL’s leading goal scorer said it’s mostly about confidence.

“I do feel more confident out there and the opportunities are just presenting themselves.”

At the same time, Mayhew also credited linemates Nico Sturm and Sam Anas with his success.

“We do complement each other really well and can rely on each other when we are out there.”

Depth Matters

Army said the team’s depth is likely to expand over the next several weeks with the return of several key players from injury. Army said he expects veteran defenseman Mike Liambas to be back the soonest with Hunter Warner, Gabriel Dumont and Cody McLeod not far behind. With the return of those four, opposing teams are expected to think twice about getting too physical as they have tried in recent weeks.

“Our depth is what has kept us going all season and we knew we had to improve it after last season. We expect it to get better over the next few weeks.”

Doing the Math

With 30 games remaining on the Iowa Wild regular-season schedule, fans are beginning to estimate how well the Wild will have to play to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs for the second time in franchise history. The Wild begins the push for the playoffs on Friday sitting in second place in the Central Division with 58 points and a .630 point percentage. 

Below is the average number of points and the average point percentage of the top four teams in the Central Division over the last five seasons.


98 points



95 points



91 points



88 points



Playoff Push

The Wild will begin the playoff push with seven straight home games over the next two weeks as a part of the team’s franchise-record nine-game homestand. Grand Rapids will be the first game at 7:00 p.m. Friday to be followed by two games each against San Antonio, Stockton and San Diego. The team will then spend the next three weeks on the road except for a home date with Chicago on Feb. 25.


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