Wild’s Haula enjoying fast start after tough sophomore season

USA Today

Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula is doing his best to put his sophomore slump behind him.

Haula has jumped out of the blocks in a hurry with three goals in two scrimmages in training camp after mustering all of just seven in 72 games last season. The 24-year-old Finn found himself playing primarily on the fourth line in 2014-15 after collecting six goals and nine assists in 46 contests during an impressive rookie campaign.

“He’s experienced the success and he’s experienced the hard parts,” coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press. “And so I think he was a little better prepared for that (this season), and that helped him head into the summer the right way.”

The Wild showed their faith in Haula by signing him to a two-year, $2 million deal last month, with $1.05 million coming in the second season.

Minnesota is banking on the spark that Haula showed during his breakout performance in the 2014 postseason, when he recorded four goals and three assists in 13 games. During the last playoff run, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher was a healthy scratch for eight of the 10 contests and scored just one goal as the Wild were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks.

(h/t Pioneer Press)