Top 10 Best Minnesota Wild Players of All Time
The Minnesota Wild first became an NHL franchise in 2000. Over their history, they have made the playoffs numerous times, although they have never won the Stanley Cup. Let’s take a look at some of the best players to contribute to the franchise since its creation.
Who Are the Best Minnesota Wild Hockey Players of All Time?
- Mikko Koivu
- Marián Gáborík
- Jared Spurgeon
- Niklas Backstrom
- Zach Parise
- Ryan Suter
- Devan Dubnyk
- Andrew Brunette
- Brian Rolston
- Jason Zucker
1. Mikko Koivu
- All-time points leader for the Wild (709)
- Played the most career games for the Wild (1,028)
- First Wild player to have his number (9) retired
Mikko Koivu was a center who played all 15 of his full NHL season with the Minnesota Wild. After entering the NHL in the 2005-06 season, he quickly established himself as a talented two-way center. He scored 205 goals and had 504 assists, with his points total of 709 still standing as the most scored by any player in franchise history as of the end of the 2022-23 regular season. He also won 54.2% of his career faceoffs with the Wild and finished top-10 in voting for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL four times during his career.
Koivu was captain of the Wild from 2009 until the end of his tenure with the team in 2020. Aside from most points scored, he also holds the franchise records for assists (504), most games played (1,028), shots (2,270), and goals created (245.5).
2. Marián Gáborík
- All-time goals leader for the Wild (219)
- Scored nine career hat tricks, the most of any Wild player
- Once scored five goals in a single game
Marián Gáborík was a right winger who played the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Wild. He entered the league at the age of 18, and scored 18 goals and had 18 assists in his rookie season. He continued to be a productive scorer over his next seven seasons with the team, and still holds the franchise record for most goals scored, with 219.
In a game against the New York Rangers on December 20, 2007, Gáborík scored five goals and had an assist for a six-point night. He became the first player in over a decade to score five goals in a single game.
3. Jared Spurgeon
- Best plus/minus in Wild history, at 112 as of the end of the 2022-23 season
- Has accrued only 144 penalty minutes over 851 games played with the Wild
- Holds the record for the most points by a Wild defenseman with 379
Jared Spurgeon is an active defenseman who has played all 13 seasons of his NHL career to date with the Wild. Despite being only 5’9” (small for any NHL player, but especially for a defenseman), his strong skating and positioning have allowed him to become one of the Wild’s most effective players. He was named captain of the Wild in 2021 following the departure of Mikko Koivu.
Spurgeon’s 379 points are fourth-best in franchise history, and his 851 games played for the Wild are second on the all-time franchise leaderboard. His mere 144 penalty minutes over those games (0.167 per game) have led to him being top-10 in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player four times, all since the 2017-18 season.
4. Nicklas Bäckström
- Most wins in Wild history (194)
- 28 shutouts for the Wild
- William M. Jennings Trophy winner
Niklas Backstrom was a goaltender who played the first nine years of his NHL career for the Wild. After going undrafted, he signed with the Wild in 2006 and joined the team as a rookie at the age of 28. He led the league in save percentage (.929) and goals against average (1.97) in that first season, winning the William M. Jennings Trophy alongside Manny Fernandez as the goaltending tandem in the league with the fewest goals scored against them.
Backstrom holds the Wild franchise records for games played by a goalie (409), wins (194), saves (10,321), minutes played (23,248), and shutouts (28). He finished top-five in voting for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender four times during his time with the Wild.
5. Zach Parise
- Most power play goals in Wild history (69)
- Scored 199 total goals for the Wild, third most in their history
- Had 37 points in 44 playoff games between the 2013-14 and the 2014-15 season
Zach Parise is a left winger who spent nine seasons with the Wild after being drafted by and beginning his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. A Minnesota native, signing with the Wild brought him back home to the state where he grew up and where his father Jean-Paul Parise played for the Minnesota North Stars before the franchise moved to Dallas. He signed a 13-year contract with the Wild, but had the final four years bought out following the 2020-21 season so that the team could have more room for younger players.
Parise is third in Wild history in goals (199) and points (400), trailing only Mikko Koivu and Marián Gáborík in each of those categories. He is second in shots taken (1,707), and game-winning goals (39), and he holds the franchise record for the most power play goals (69).
6. Ryan Suter
- Had 314 assists while playing for the Wild (second in franchise history)
- Three-time All-Star with the Wild
- Averaged over 26 minutes of playing time per game for his first seven seasons with the Wild
Ryan Suter is a defenseman who spent nine seasons with the Wild after being drafted by and beginning his career with the Nashville Predators. He and Zach Parise (who was a close friend of his) signed identical 13-year contracts with the Wild in 2012, and both had their contracts bought out following the 2020-21 season.
Suter averaged over 26 minutes of playing time per game for the first seven seasons of his career with the Wild, including a run of three seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16 where he averaged over 28 minutes per game. His 314 career assists with the Wild put him second on the all-time franchise record list. In addition to providing points, he was an excellent defenseman for the Wild, and he blocked 985 shots while playing for them. During each of his first five seasons with the Wild, he finished in the top 10 in voting for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the league.
7. Devan Dubnyk
- Won 177 games for the Wild
- Bill Masterton Trophy winner
- 23 shutouts with the Wild
Devan Dubnyk was a goaltender who played six seasons of his NHL career with the Wild. He struggled in the early seasons of his career with the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators, and spent much of the season before his trade to Minnesota playing in the American Hockey League. He continued to work and change his style in the offseason, and earned his role as starting goaltender (along with a six-year contract) with Minnesota by posting a .936 save percentage and a 1.78 goals against average in his first season with the team.
That year, he also won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and sportsmanship, came in third in voting for the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL, and came in fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
8. Andrew Brunette
- Played in 504 games without missing one, beginning in his time with the Wild
- Scored the overtime winner in the Western Conference Quarterfinal in 2003 for the Wild
- Scored 119 goals for the Wild, fifth-most in franchise history
Andrew Brunette was a left winger who played for the Wild for two different three-year stints during his NHL career. He is top-ten in franchise history in goals (119), assists (202), and total points (321), and never played less than 80 games in any single season with the Wild. During his first three years with the Wild, he began an Iron Man streak, meaning that he did not miss any of the games that his team played for any reason, that lasted 504 games and only ended due to injury during his second three years with the Wild.
One of Brunette’s most well-known moments was Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal in 2003, when he scored the overtime winner to send the Wild to the next round. Advancing through that round remains the best playoff finish the Wild have ever had.
9. Brian Rolston
- Scored at least 30 goals in all three seasons with the Wild
- Could play all three forward positions effectively
- Had 0.84 points per game with the Wild
Brian Rolston was a versatile forward who played three years of his long NHL career with the Wild. He scored at least 30 goals in each of his seasons with the Wild, including a team-leading 34 in his first year with the team. He played over 20 minutes per game on average for the Wild, due in large part to his important role on both their power play and penalty kill units. Despite playing in Minnesota for only three seasons, he has scored the 11th-most goals in franchise history (96), the sixth-most power play goals (39), the third-most short-handed goals (7), and the sixth-most game-winning goals (21).
10. Jason Zucker
- King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner
- Led the NHL in plus/minus in 2016-17
- Scored 132 goals for the Wild, fourth most all-time
Jason Zucker is a left winger who played the first nine years of his NHL career with the Wild. He is fourth all-time in franchise goals (132) and even-strength goals (107), fifth in game-winning goals (22), seventh in shots taken (1,049), and eighth in points (243).
Zucker won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2018-19 as the player in the NHL who best exemplifies the qualities of leadership and humanitarian contribution. He won the award for his work in creating the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, a space that allows hospitalized children and their families to experience Wild games safely and remotely.
- Pierre-Marc Bouchard
- Jonas Brodin
- Charlie Coyle
- Mathew Dumba
- Manny Fernandez
- Mikael Granlund
- Kirill Kaprizov
- Nino Neidereitter
- Nick Schultz
- Eric Staal
Who is the best Minnesota Wild goalie of all time?
Nicklas Backstrom is the best Minnesota Wild goaltender of all time. He leads all goaltenders in Wild history in games played with 409, wins with 194, shutouts with 28, and total minutes played with 23,248. In his rookie season (2006-07), he won the William M. Jennings Trophy alongside Manny Fernandez as the goaltending tandem in the NHL that allowed the fewest goals against during the regular season.
Who is the best Minnesota Wild forward of all time?
Mikko Koivu is the best Minnesota Wild forward of all time. He holds the franchise records for games played (1,028), assists (504), points (709), and total shots taken (2,270). He won 54.4% of his faceoffs while playing with the Wild, and finished top-10 in voting for the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward in the league four times. He was captain of the team from 2009-2020.
Who is the best Minnesota Wild defensemen of all time?
Jared Spurgeon is the best Minnesota Wild defenseman of all time. He has played the second most games in franchise history with 851, and has the fourth most points with 379. His mere 144 penalty minutes (0.167 per game) have led to him being top-10 in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player four times, all since the 2017-18 season. He was elected captain of the Wild in 2021, and still holds that post as of the end of the 2022-23 season.