From mid-April to the start of May in 2014, the hockey world saw Erik Haula burst onto the scene as he and the Minnesota Wild won their seven-game playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche before falling in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the course of the 13 games, the rookie scored four times and assisted on three other Wild goals.
Prior to his impressive postseason, Haula had six goals and nine assists in his 46 games played during the regular season while playing just 10:09 a night. Not a bad stat line regardless of his playing time, but 15 points while playing 10 minutes a game just added to the hype.
Entering the 2014-15 season, there was a bit of a spotlight on Haula. He performed at a high level during the Stanley Cup playoffs and was noticeable during his rookie campaign. This season he saw his average ice time increase by exactly two minutes, but Haula’s game never jumped like many expected it would.
The 24-year-old played in 72 regular season games while recording just seven goals and seven helpers, which was the second lowest point total among all Wild forwards with 50-plus games played.
He put 92 shots on net, which isn’t a bad number while seeing 12 minutes of play a night in a 72-game span. He also had 38 takeaways on the year, which stood as third most among all Minnesota skaters.
The regular season statistics seem to be the trending topic throughout and that is because Haula’s 2014-15 postseason numbers are virtually nonexistent as he played in just two of the team’s 10 total games. He saw no playing time in the six-game series against the St. Louis Blues and played in Game 2 and Game 4 against the Blackhawks, scoring once as the series ended in Game 4.
The forward has shown glimpses of impressive play, and that doesn’t necessarily show up on the score sheet, but he still has that question mark hovering around him. This makes the decision the Wild now have to make regarding the restricted free agent even that more difficult.
Erik Haula snapped a span of 177 minutes and 11 seconds the #MNWild went without a goal from a forward. pic.twitter.com/9ATddcZDcp
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) May 8, 2015
In looking at just the centers ahead of Haula on Minnesota’s roster, you have Mikael Granlund – another Wild RFA – veteran Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle and pending unrestricted free agent Kyle Brodziak. While Haula may be pushed to the wing, he is still listed as a center on the Wild’s roster page and took 573 faceoffs in the regular season as a bott0m-six center.
Following Granlund, Koivu, Coyle, Brodziak and Haula, the Wild are thin up the middle of the ice.
The re-signing of Haula should be towards the top of the to-do list for Minnesota this summer.