Shortly after superstar rookie Kirill Kaprizov was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy last week, it became clear the Wild were going to have a few other award finalists.
Asked about what that would mean to the team, coach Dean Evason calmly replied, “It means we made a step, right?”
Indeed. With the 56-year-old Evason leading the charge this season, the Wild showed flashes of brilliance before bowing to the Golden Knights in the first round of the playoffs. There’s a lot of excitement about what the Wild could accomplish in the future, and the list of award finalists backs up that feeling.
On Friday morning, Evason was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award given annually to the NHL’s best coach. It’s a well-deserved honor for Evason considering the way he has helped change the culture in the Wild locker room since taking over.
Not surprisingly, Evason turned the attention away from himself.
“I’m extremely proud of our coaching staff,” he said. “We are proud of the stuff that we’ve started to instill in our group.”
Jacques Lemaire is the only other Jack Adams Award finalist the Wild have ever had. He won the award in 2003.
In addition to Evason, captain Jared Spurgeon was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship) and star defenseman Matt Dumba was named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy (dedication to the sport). Then, of course, there’s Kaprizov, more or less a shoo-in to win the Calder Trophy given annually to the league’s top rookie.
Though the individual awards are certainly a nice feather in the cap, the Wild would trade them for a Stanley Cup.
“We are excited about what we did this year as far as the regular season, and extremely disappointed that we aren’t still playing,” Evason said. “Every season when we go in, our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. So, in that sense, it was a failure. But we had a good regular season and we can build on that.”