Hockey World Blog Season Previews 2010: Minnesota Wild

Key Offseason Losses: Derek Boogard, Owen Nolan

Key Offseason Additions: John Madden, Matt Cullen

Last Season Ranking: 13th, West

Captain Mikko Koivu looks to lead a rebuilding Minnesota Wild this year to a less than likely post season appearance.
Captain Mikko Koivu looks to lead a rebuilding Minnesota Wild this year to a less than likely post season appearance.

Offense: The Minnesota Wild have a 1-2-3 punch in captain Mikko Koivu, Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette. Koivu and Havlat are both balanced players capable of putting the puck in the net while Brunette is a good set up man.

Antti Miettinen, new addition Matt Cullen and winger Guillaume Latendresse are also key roles for the team. Miettinen should reach the 40 point mark if not even more this season. Cullen will be the pivotal tool for the team’s second line, netting only 16 goals last season, but adding 32 assists between both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators. Latendresse, since coming to Minnesota, has really clicked posting 37 points in 55 games played. Latendresse is really an under rated player and should be considered for depth in any fantasy team.

From there another true player worth watching, partly because of the name, the other part of his physical play style, is Cal Clutterbuck. If Clutterbuck can stay healthy, the team may have a decent three lines that should help the team in close games.

Defense: You can guarantee veteran Marek Zidlicky will post at least 40 points this upcoming season. Brent Burns looks to stay healthy after playing reduced schedules in his last two seasons and Nick Schultz looks to do better than his previous seasons career high of 20 points. The remaining 3 defenseman look to add some talent as well as a lock down defense keeping the shots toa minnimum.

Goaltending: Niklas Backstrom will be the number one goalie again with Josh Harding normally backing him up, however harding has recently torn an ACL and MCL and is expected to be out for a bit leaving either Anton Khudobin or Wade Dubielewicz to see NHL play time.

Backstrom has had trouble fighting with back problems last season, but if healthy, could put up some decent statistics. Those statistics though will come in the likes of save percentage only, as with the lack of depth in the defense, Backstrom will be facing a lot of shots this seasons. If you do happen to pick him up on your fantasy team, play him as your number two goalie, and watch for good match-ups as it is very possible he could rebound from a poor season last year in shutouts. He only had 2 shutouts last season, a career low, but two seasons ago he had 8.

Season Outlook: The Minnesota Wild are still one to two players away from a competitive team, which not only sucks for the fans, but the team itself. Strong minded players will determine if the team is competitive or not on a day to day basis, but it is highly unlikely that the Wild will make the post season this year. Watch them for what it is worth and try not to worry too much, you could be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. The Wild are developing and should be back in the mix in a few years.


    • We didn’t ACQUIRE Koivu, Lats and Shep in the off-season, we re-signed them. Hell, Koivu’s contract was an extension!

      Key off-season departures… you put Boogaard, but not Nolan?

      The first line is NOT Bruno-Koivu-Havlat, you switched up Mittens and Havlat, and if you had at least watched a few games last season, you would know this. Geez, Havlat and Lats was our big one-two punch!

      you didn’t talk about prospects, you didn’t mention we’re rolling with four lines now with the release of Boogaard and the signings of Madden, Staubitz, Nystrom and the emergence of rookies…

      Soooo yeah….

  1. I consider contract extensions and off season signings an acquisition. I could see your argument for Koivu with the extension, but seeing it extended, I see that as an acquisition. As for signings, they could have gone elsewhere, hence an acquisition.

    Depsite it being the new NHL, Boogard is a pivotal role when healthy to keep the other team in check. As for Nolan, I thought there still is a chance for him to be signed by the team, and hence I did not put him as a loss. If he is not signed, then yes I do see him as a loss.

    The rest is subject to own opinion. Lines change all the time. As for rookies coming up, I made no mention because I do not feel the Wild have a shot at a post season.

    Forgive me for not watching as many games of a team that ended 13th out of 15th in the West. You make it sound like I shortchanged them. They were not worth my time last season and they won’t be worth my time this season.

    A friendly wager. If they make the post season I will write an article of apology. If they don’t make the post season, you write an article of an apology questioning my foresight and I will post it on the site.

    • Nowhere in my comment did I question your predictions, I’m just saying your ”research” was lacking. The Koivu Havlat line had been tried last season, and it failed, so I really don’t see Richards breaking up Havlatendresse. Also, if you had done a little bit of ”research”, you would have found that the Wild won’t be re-signing Nolan. If you’re going to make an article like this, don’t do it half-assed, notice that you didn’t get one good mention so far.

      And no, keeping what you already had shouldn’t be considered an addition, I don’t know in what world you live in that would make your argument work. I could maybe see it for UFAs, but for RFAs and extension, IMO, you’re keeping what you already had.

  2. Not all RFA’s have to be signed. Teams have the rights to make an offer, but if they choose not to, then the person becomes a UFA.

    Acquisition: the act of contracting or assuming or acquiring possession of something. The team did acquire the possession of the players more than what they had before.

    Lines change. As you most likely are accurate in your line belief, however, I do believe they will be mixed up if things begin to falter. Perhaps it is the fact of growing accustomed to Babcock and the Wings that leave me to this.

    As for Nolan, I thought there still was an outside hope, as he could be slotted to the AHL in case of an injury.

    My offer still stands on the predictions.

    • yes, I know about RFAs, but they are rarely abandonned (although, in some special cases, it does, like Antti Niemi).

      Well, ok, that’s acquistion, but I think it’s different from addition.

      Lines change, but not always. The Bruno-Koivu-Mittens line has been together for 2 years and it’s extremely likely the only one who could break it up is Pierre-Marc Bouchard. It could happen, but as of right now, it’s common knowledge in Minny that the 1st line is Bruno-Koivu-Mittens and the second is Havlat – Latendresse and very likely Cullen, that’s all I’m saying.

      I truly believe the Wild can make the playoffs, but there are a lot of ifs. It’s going to be a tight race, just like every year.

  3. JS,

    I like the Wild, and I respect your knowledge. I do to hope they make it, however I feel that the West is really going to be tough this year. It is indeed possible, but like you said, some “ifs” do need to fall into place.

    For a team that has not seen the post season in two years, it would be nice for the fans and the team to make it. Hopefully they do… but not at the expense of Detroit or Phoenix not making it.

    • I doubt very highly the Wild would knock Detroit and Phoenix out of spots, but I think 8th or maybe even 7th can be realized with our new acquistions who will help immensely in the two-way aspect of the game, which was a weakness last season. Burns, Bouchard and Backstrom need to come back to their former forms too, but we have the tools to make the playoffs. Do we have the tools to make some damage in the playoffs? I’ll have to see no. I’m optimistic yes, but I’m also a realist…

      By the way, Matt asked me if I wanted to help you guys out with some guest posts about the Wild. I already write for Hockey Wilderness, but I agreed to his proposition. Guess that means I’m a temporary member of your team now!

      Oh, and sorry I sounded like a bastard before, but as an intense fan of the Wild, I just had to put in my two cents.

  4. You forgot to include the full definition of “acquire.” From Webster’s: ” to come to have as a new or added characteristic, trait, or ability”

    New or added. Latendresse, Koivu, & Sheppard are not new or added. And your argument that extensions qualify as acquisitions falls flat as well, as Koivu’s extension does not go into effect until next season. Your comments read more like someone who was caught in the act of poor writing and is trying to cover themselves.

    The Havlat-Koivu on the same line tells me you know nothing about the team, and were assigned a topic you knew nothing about and simply made assumptions based on the roster.

    Tell me how a lack of depth at defense equals more SOG against. There are only two d-men on the ice at any time, meaning the depth factor is exactly two at any given time. Keep in mind it is not the number of shots that matters, but the quality of those shots. A good defenseman keeps the shots out at the perimeter, making them low % shots. Depth at the position has little to do with it.

    If you want depth, they have multiple prospects ready to step in the number six role if needed. The top pairing could change at anytime, and not lose a step. Right now, it isn’t a depth issue, it is a chemistry issue, and putting the right people on the ice at the right time.

    The Wild are not “rebuilding.” Rebuilding involves selling the top talent for picks and prospects. Name one move that has made that happen. Rebuilding teams are not $2.5 million from the cap. Rebuilding teams do not ink Mikko Koivu to a seven year deal. They trade him for two first round picks and a top prospect.

    No mention of Bouchard returning, and your only othe rplayer to watch is Clutterbuck? How about Burns? How about Barker? How about the new defensive guys? What about Brad Staubitz and his ability to fill the void left by Boogaard and Scott?

    This was the weakest season preview I have read regarding the Wild. You should be ashamed of yourself, and the site should be ashamed for posting it.

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