After what could be considered a surprise season for many owners in the WHL, the Minnesota Rink Rats ended their "cinderella" season with a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Edmonton Express. The Rink Rats, ranked 7th in the Campbell Conference at season's end, made the playoffs for the 1st time in 5 seasons and more than doubled the team's wins from the previous season.
The team relied on the strong play of MVP candidate Ryan Miller and Captain Marc Savard to turn around the team's fortune and bring success back to this storied franchise. Solid play from young players such as Derek Roy, Nikolai Zherdev, Jay Bouwmeester & Jamie Heward as well as the addition of veterans like Darcy Tucker and Brian Leetch before the trade deadline helped lift the team to the playoffs, but in the end the Express proved too much.
The offseason will provide a few question marks for Minnesota as to the direction of the club. The team will most likely return with a core nucleus consisting of Derek Roy, Brent Burns, Jay Bouwmeester and Ryan Miller but has some question marks as to the status of the rest of the roster. Players such as Darcy Tucker, Geoff Sanderson, Mike VanRyn, Karel Rachunek, Mike York and Josef Vasicek are considered to be on Minnesota's trade block to bring in a few extra picks for this year's draft. Rumors have also swirled that Minnesota may again consider moving Captain Marc Savard who still provides quite a bit of scoring potential, to get into the 1st round of this year’s draft plus a rookie or prospect. Johnny Oduya, Nikolai Zherdev, Rob Schremp and Dustin Boyd may also be on the move if the right offer were in place.
“We’re going to consider all our options and go from there” stated GM LaDouceur. “We’ve got a solid group of players on this team and a couple that are on the verge of going to the next level. We need to continue to find ways to improve and develop our young players. I'm real proud of what we did this season. We're a young club and to improve that much was nice to see. Our fans treat us well in Minnesota and they deserved to watch a winning club.”