ST. PAUL, Minn. Given the extra time afforded him by the NHL lockout, Mike Yeo has already spent half a year envisioning the type of lines and defensive pairings he can put on the ice for the Minnesota Wild.
After the Wild's July 4 shopping spree netted Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two biggest names on the free-agent market, the second-year coach started scratching power-play units and shootout lineups on pieces of paper that have seemingly had time to yellow by now.
Some saw the two free agents both signed to 13-year, 98 million contracts -- as saviors for a franchise that has missed the playoffs for four straight years. Yeo was able to see something else.
He knew Minnesota already had the pieces to put around Parise and Suter, a roster that surprisingly gave the Wild the NHL's best record in December 2011 before injuries struck, good fortune wore off and Minnesota fell precipitously in the standings.
Just take a look at the power-play groups Yeo could only dream about...