Wild veterans Parise, Staal still leading the way

Zach Parise and Eric Staal turned 35 this year, but the veteran forwards, both drafted in 2003, are still producing.

Parise leads all players 35 and older with 14 goals in 35 games this season, while Staal ranks second with 12 goals. Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter is the only other 35+ player with at least 10 goals this season.

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Defenseman Ryan Suter, who turns 35 in January, leads the Wild with 20 assists. He’s set up Staal and Parise four times each this season and has helpers in four straight games, tied for the second-longest active assist streak in the NHL.

Parise and Suter will have a former teammate to contend with when the Wild finish off their three-game road trip in Phoenix on Thursday.

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper, drafted by the Wild in 2009, has been among the league’s best goalies this season. Kuemper ranks second in the NHL with a .935 SV% and a 1.97 GAA this season.

Kuemper spent parts of five seasons with the Wild after making his NHL debut in 2013, posting a .910 SV% and a 2.60 GAA in 102 games.

Minnesota fans should recognize at least one other familiar face on the other end of the ice Thursday: Former Gophers star Phil Kessel. The veteran winger has produced against the Wild over the last few seasons.

Kessel is averaging 1.38 points per game against the Wild since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, tied for fifth in the NHL over that span amongst players with at least eight games played against Minnesota. Kessel leads the Coyotes with six power-play goals and has seven goals in 36 games this season.

Statistics via Sportradar