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yave1964

Wild offseason primer

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I have been doing these for every team for years in here, I think this is team 26 this offseason so far, I have deliberately saved the Wild (as well as the Flyers) for towards the end as we have such a large contingent of Wild fans in here and quite frankly in these I call em as I see em, sometimes that tends to piss people off who think that their own team has the 21 best players in the game currently on the roster but that is not my intention, just a quick recap from an outsider point of view who lives and loves the greatest game going. Feel free to explore the whole place, look at some of the other teams pages if the mood strikes and you have time, don't feel you only have to post in the Wild section, all are welcome all over the place in here.

Dave

 

FINAL RECORD 2017-18 45-26-11 101 points, 3rd in the Central, lost in five games to the Jets

 

  Kind of a strange year for the Wild, yes they had a 100 point season which is still a nice benchmark to shoot for even in the loser point era but something felt off all year. They had a 5 game winning streak and a four game winning streak but other than that it was win a few, lose a few all year long. They never were particularly cold but they never really gained a lot of traction either, they just went along, had a 101 point season and then went home in five quick games against Winnipeg.

  Eric Staal continued to prove that his signing was no mistake as he fired in 42 goals, Granlund had a very nice 67 point in 77 game season, one of my favorite players, Jason Zucker continues to overachieve and set new highs with 33 goals. Ryan Suter continues to be all things to all people playing nearly 27 minutes a night in all situations and putting up 51 points with Dumba right behind with 50 making the Wild one of only three teams with two 50 point defenseman. Brodin did a good job of establishing himself as a shut down guy with a nice first pass and Spurgeon is a very underrated defender rounding out a very underrated top four. .Dubnyk tended to run hot and cold but there are tons of teams who would be thrilled with a 35 win 2.52 goals against netminder. Also on defense Nick Seeler got his feet wet and didn't do too bad. Cullen and Winnick were professional bottom line guys who did a decent job.

  as for what went wrong, well lack of depth kind of doomed the team, Koivu continues to slip, he was okay but is better suited to a middling minute 3C role and playing a 2C role seems to be a bit much at this point. Coyle missed 16 games and only managed 11 goals. Nino Niederreitter managed 18 but missed 19 games and really never found a defined role. Parise missed half the year, he did manage 15 goals in only 42 games tho. Tyler Ennis, seriously I don't understand why he was brought in. Stalock had a decent stretch as the backup goalie but also had times where he looked like an AHL backup. Joel Eriksson Ek was horribly misused, he averaged 12 minutes and change of ice time and literally averaged 6 seconds of power play time, IMHO he was set up to fail and I  think his best days are ahead of him, not sure what he did to Boudreau to get this kind of disrespect.  Kyle Quincey, Chris Stewart, Mike Reilly all were given ice time and found wanting and donated elsewhere for not a lot.  Prosser took a step back and may struggle to maintain a spot in the rotation. 

 

FREE AGENTS

Cullen and Winnick were solid bottom line guys who could move up in a pinch ,both are UFA and at their age probably wont be back. The big problem they have is Zucker and Dumba are both RFA and commanding a big payday and unless the cap goes up the Wild have just 7 million in room so someone may need to be moved out to clear cap space. At some point this year Staal will have to be addressed as he only has one year left on a sweetheart of a deal he will certainly want more on his next deal.

 

TOP PROSPECTS: Joel Eriksson Ek, IMHO has middle six written all over him but was misused all year, nobody alive can contribute when used as he was last year. I think he just needs 15 minutes of ice time a night with a shot on the very weak second power play and at the least he turns into a 40ish point guy with upside from there. Jordan Greenway came aboard after the Olympics and although very young the man mountain looks like a third line left winger who may move up, 15-20 goals and a snarl to his game he excelled at Boston U as a power forward. Nick Seeler is silky smooth and while it takes defenseman longer to develop than forwards he looked like he belonged after Reilly was donated to Montreal and he claimed his job. I am not a fan of Olofsson, he just looks like a warm body to me. Luke Kunin may replace Cullen as a 4th line center who can move up in a pinch, little upside but very usable. Carson soucy is someone that a lot of folks are high on but I am not so sure if he will make it. Kirill Kaprizov is a little jitterbug and creative force on the wing but he is staying in Russia for at least another year but the Wild are justifiably thrilled with his abilities.

  Overall, not bad, lots of young depth players some with upside and a chance to move into key roles. Lots of teams sitting much worse. The knock might be no top tier player ready to step in but overall Eriksson Ek, Greenway, and Seeler alone ready to step in should make Wild fans happy.

 

OFFSEASON QUESTIONS

 

WHAT WILL STAAL DEMAND ON HIS NEXT DEAL AND CAN THE WILD PAY IT?

After years of making 8 million with the Hurricanes he signed a deal at 3.5 million per for three years with the Wild in the same free agency class that saw the Wings and Bruins over pay and over term Nielsen and Backes. This is likely his last chance at a payday, I would think that based off his performance 3 years at or around 6 million per is not an unreasonable ask. The problem is the Wild next year are looking at 22 million in cap space with only 12 players under contract so it may be tight. If the kids develop at a million per or so for the three mentioned above plus Soucy, Kaprizov (next year) and Kunin it helps fill out the roster and make it doable. If they take a step back and or prove they need replaced it may make Staal unaffordable.

 

 BOUDREAU, HOW LONG IS THE LEASH? A new GM is aboard and a new broom sweeps clean as the saying goes, there is every reason to believe that a slow start may send him packing. I have long been a Boudreau apologist because his regular season results speak for themselves but at some point you have to say he may just be the Hockey version of Gene Mauch and move on.

 

ARE THEY CUP CONTENDERS OR IS IT TIME TO RETHINK THINGS? well they have a damn solid top four on defense and Seeler in the mix and I always start by looking at a back end first. There top line of Zucker, Staal and Granlund is more than capable. To me right now I say no but a qualified no, they need to develop a middle six, Koivu and Coyle are best suited as second third liners and are punching above their weight class a bit, If Parise can stay healthy, if Greenway and Eriksson Ek develop, if another middle six center is added to the mix, they could compete but that is a lot of ifs.

  Dubnyk is another question mark, as I mentioned he won 35 games with a decent goals against but he never quite felt right last year. A team can win a cup without a stellar netminder, the Wings won a few with Osgood as an example and he was an average netminder but it takes a special team to outperform their goalie. If Dubnyk performs like last year, no, I think that regardless of what else the team does they are just a bit short, if he finds a way to take it up a notch absolutely, a great defense, a solid top line and a defind middle six with Dubnyk 10 percent better could win a cup.

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If the team can afford him, fair chance Winnik could be back, but it all depends on the deals given to Dumba and Zucker.  Boudreau likes him and for his role he did what we asked of him.  As far as Staal goes, despite his tremendous production and being a good locker room guy...we'll probably say 'no thanks' to an extension.  Not because the team wants to part ways, but the team already hitched its wagon to Kaptain Klydesdale for two more years at $5.5 million with a no movement clause.  

 

Staal should've been the one that was extended.  Koivu's value continues to slide, especially with the crackdown on cheating in the faceoffs which makes him barely 50% at his draws which is crap for a guy you send out for most important faceoffs.  

 

Koivu should be bumped down to the 3rd line, but most people realize that is something the team will probably shy away from because everyone is so afraid of 'Angry Mikko' except the fans who find that whole myth to be laughable.  Eriksson Ek or Coyle should get the 2nd line center spot.  Russo thinks Coyle might get that chance.  Eriksson Ek, while better in a checking role than I think many of us expected is a waste playing on the 4th line.  

 

Minnesota doesn't really have much room for free agents with the extensions to Zucker and Dumba likely.  Unless it starts trading guys line Nino Niederreiter, Zucker, Coyle or Granlund.  Ennis is expected to be bought out but that won't provide a ton of cap relief.  

 

I am expecting this team to backslide despite whatever 'tweaks' it tries to make just because we'll probably be older and slower than we were a season ago.  Suter's injury probably means he out of the lineup when the puck drops in October.  That will be tough for this team to overcome.  I hate him, but he's the team's best defender by far.  

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@CreaseAndAssist

 

Out of curiosity why do you hate Suter? a minute munching defenseman who can and does play in all situations and scores 50 plus points, I would take him any day of the week. I was devastated when he signed with your boys and not Detroit. 

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9 minutes ago, yave1964 said:

@CreaseAndAssist

 

Out of curiosity why do you hate Suter? a minute munching defenseman who can and does play in all situations and scores 50 plus points, I would take him any day of the week. I was devastated when he signed with your boys and not Detroit. 

 

(sigh)  He lacks urgency in just about everything he does.  Its obvious he isn't THAT coachable and basically dictates his ice time and his defensive partners.  I feel pretty confident in saying Scott Stevens left because of him.  I tire of watching him control the power play, and teams backing off of him as they let him take a weak wrist shot from the point that is basically just playing catch with the goalie.  42% of his points were secondary assists, he's an absolute disaster in overtime where he again overhandles the puck puts the team in awful situation when he carries it beneath the goal line; the opponent takes it away for an odd man rush and usually scores.  He's pretty lazy on his line changes.  Oh and he has zero personality and uses his influence with our current owner to dictate other roster / personnel decisions.  

 

Watch

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, you tell me who almost seems giddy that his boss just got shitcanned.  

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We've also answered the Cup contenders question on another thread.  You're not going to find many Wild fans who really feel this team is on the cusp.  If they do, they probably also think Mikko Koivu is the best player to have ever played in the NHL so you can toss that opinion into the circular file.  

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2 hours ago, yave1964 said:

@CreaseAndAssist

 

Out of curiosity why do you hate Suter? a minute munching defenseman who can and does play in all situations and scores 50 plus points, I would take him any day of the week. I was devastated when he signed with your boys and not Detroit. 

^ What CreaseAndAssist said.

Plus about a million and a half to two million of his salary was a hand-me-down from Parise to urge him to come here. Legitimately he's not worth the kind of money he's getting.

 

Make no mistake, Suter is a very capable d-man but in the Weber-Suter era in Nashville where they commanded a ton of attention as a defensive duo... Weber was the sh!t whereas Suter was the non-flashy stay at home guy. The Wild got Suter and automatically he was put in all kinds of offensive roles and for three horrendous years he sucked. I literally found myself counting how many times a game on the PP the puck would dribble over his stick and trickle outside the blue line. Absolutely NERVE-WRACKING! Lazily he'd opt to poke his stick out at the puck to stop it instead of moving his feet to get in front of it. It used to happen 3-4 times a game and sometimes 3 times on a single PP. Suter is still non-flashy (not that flashy counts) but if he can spare a half breath as opposed to moving his ass he more often than not spares a half breath.

 

He's also one of two players (he and Zach Parise) who sold out Mike Yeo and hired Adam Oates to help with the PP.

 

He's a millionaire playing like a millionaire.

 

Also don't forget: Three times in two years he was quoted after a game saying they pretty much let up (or gave up.) No, HE might have given up but many of the younger players on the team didn't give up. His attitude is horsesh!t.

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Suter logs the most ice time, in part because he CHOOSES to prolong his shifts.  He stays out there and while he should still lead the team in ice time; he adds 2-5 minutes more per game just by logging long shifts.  This is especially true in overtime where he'll try to stay out there almost 2 minutes and then make a very lazy change which usually leads to disaster for our team.  

 

IMO, he does what he wants because he knows he can and that one phone call to the owner is all that is needed to get what he wants if someone tries to stand in the way.  He got into it with Torchetti, and Russo has tried to tip toe around it...but its obvious he has far more power in what happens with this team than ANY player really should.  

 

I think he's overrated and I wasn't even mad he wasn't there for the playoffs.  I was tired of watching him lazily floating through shifts.  Lets not forget, it was Parise AND Suter who invited Adam Oates to come talk with them about the power play and it was these two going to Yeo asking that he consider some of Oates' suggestions.  So this is an issue that has persisted through 3 different coaches...two GM's and counting.  

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5 hours ago, CreaseAndAssist said:

 

(sigh)  He lacks urgency in just about everything he does.  Its obvious he isn't THAT coachable and basically dictates his ice time and his defensive partners.  I feel pretty confident in saying Scott Stevens left because of him.  I tire of watching him control the power play, and teams backing off of him as they let him take a weak wrist shot from the point that is basically just playing catch with the goalie.  42% of his points were secondary assists, he's an absolute disaster in overtime where he again overhandles the puck puts the team in awful situation when he carries it beneath the goal line; the opponent takes it away for an odd man rush and usually scores.  He's pretty lazy on his line changes.  Oh and he has zero personality and uses his influence with our current owner to dictate other roster / personnel decisions.  

 

Watch

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, you tell me who almost seems giddy that his boss just got shitcanned.  

 

Hockey players aren’t the most forthright individuals when it comes to what they’re really thinking. The safety of clichés and formulaic answers is usually too comfortable to pass up. So when 

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defenseman 

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 shared some of his pointed thoughts on head coach Mike Yeo’s line juggling in practice, it made some waves.

“I don't know what they're thinking," Suter said Monday after he spent the practice paired with left-shot 

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 (

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)
. "It's different, I need to play with a right-handed defensemen to give me more options in the neutral zone, offensively and even coming out of the D zone. It's not fair to put a guy on his offside. I don't know if it's just for practice today or what it is, they didn't say anything."

Yeo had apparently given his team the what for in practice, so perhaps tensions and tempers were perhaps a little higher than usual.

Maybe cooler heads have prevailed, but Suter was singing a different tune Tuesday ahead of the team’s big game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Or at least he was backtracking on his comments a little bit.

Suter’s comments didn’t bother Yeo, though. In fact, it may have actually been part of the desired result from his in-practice shuffling.

 

The Wild have lost three straight games and six of their last seven. Frustration was bound to creep in at some point during this stretch. Sometimes that frustration spills out and “leaves the room.”

However, Suter’s comments from Monday gives us some very rare insight into the inner workings of a player’s mind and that’s a good thing. That he prefers to play with a right-shooting defenseman is actually some valuable information. He spent a ton of his minutes last year playing with Brodin and now it sounds like that wasn't something he was totally comfortable with.

Usually a player is going to say, “It doesn’t matter who I play with, I’ll just play my game” and we've learned absolutely nothing. But Suter reveals that it really does matter who they play with, something that is always assumed but rarely confirmed by the players.

And the defenseman may be on to something. As TSN’s Travis Yost points out, Suter’s numbers while playing alongside right-shot 

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, like he has almost all of this season, are indeed better.

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I am not buying Suter's comments as a good thing.  He likes playing with Spurgeon because he does so much of the work for him.  Brodin is just sort of there.  Suter has to do more work; so he doesn't like it.  He can't be as lazy as he wants to be, like when Spurgeon is his partner.  

 

And let's face it, Spurgeon is a better defenseman at both ends of the ice than Brodin...so you're naturally going to get more points by playing with someone who is naturally more productive from an offensive standpoint.  

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Two players who I have always felt are misused and their play suffers for it are Boone Jenner in Columbus and Charlie Coyle, for the exact same reason. 

  Both have shown promise, both can play center but truthfully both are better suited to playing on the wing (though to be fair from what I have seen Coyle has turned himself into a pretty good faceoff guy. IMHO both are responsible defensively and are more than capable of putting up 50 point seasons but it is asking too much of them to play center full time in a top six role. put them on the wing, let them do what they do best which is wear down an opponent and contribute offensively and you have a hell of a player. Ask too much of them and their overall game suffers. Just because they can do something, play center in a pinch does not mean that out of need you continue to move them inside and have them do so. I have always been a believer in taking advantage of strengths not just using a player who can fill a role and letting those strengths suffer. Obviously you see Coyle quite a lot more than I do and maybe I am off base with this assessment and just projecting Jenner onto him. I just believe in playing to strength not playing to need and making a strength suffer.

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2 hours ago, yave1964 said:

Two players who I have always felt are misused and their play suffers for it are Boone Jenner in Columbus and Charlie Coyle, for the exact same reason. 

  Both have shown promise, both can play center but truthfully both are better suited to playing on the wing (though to be fair from what I have seen Coyle has turned himself into a pretty good faceoff guy. IMHO both are responsible defensively and are more than capable of putting up 50 point seasons but it is asking too much of them to play center full time in a top six role. put them on the wing, let them do what they do best which is wear down an opponent and contribute offensively and you have a hell of a player. Ask too much of them and their overall game suffers. Just because they can do something, play center in a pinch does not mean that out of need you continue to move them inside and have them do so. I have always been a believer in taking advantage of strengths not just using a player who can fill a role and letting those strengths suffer. Obviously you see Coyle quite a lot more than I do and maybe I am off base with this assessment and just projecting Jenner onto him. I just believe in playing to strength not playing to need and making a strength suffer.

No, you are dead on with Coyle. The Wild kept playing him at center and he couldn’t win a face off to save his life. When they finally wised up and moved him to wing he turned into a much better player. Now I’m hearing rumors that the Wild want to move him back to center. I’ll chalk last season poor showing up to the broken leg and the wrist problems. But Coyle needs to have that breakout season the Wild keep promising us he’s going to have...it’s been going on three seasons or so now that he’s going to breakout...

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Prosser played great last year. Stabilizing force on the third pair.

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6 hours ago, yave1964 said:

Two players who I have always felt are misused and their play suffers for it are Boone Jenner in Columbus and Charlie Coyle, for the exact same reason. 

  Both have shown promise, both can play center but truthfully both are better suited to playing on the wing (though to be fair from what I have seen Coyle has turned himself into a pretty good faceoff guy. IMHO both are responsible defensively and are more than capable of putting up 50 point seasons but it is asking too much of them to play center full time in a top six role. put them on the wing, let them do what they do best which is wear down an opponent and contribute offensively and you have a hell of a player. Ask too much of them and their overall game suffers. Just because they can do something, play center in a pinch does not mean that out of need you continue to move them inside and have them do so. I have always been a believer in taking advantage of strengths not just using a player who can fill a role and letting those strengths suffer. Obviously you see Coyle quite a lot more than I do and maybe I am off base with this assessment and just projecting Jenner onto him. I just believe in playing to strength not playing to need and making a strength suffer.

 

Meh, Coyle is what he is.  He's a player who is a teaser.  He'll be a force of nature in the pre-season and then just kind of goes through the motions in the regular season.  I agree with Rotten, he's better on the Wing, and the idea of placing him as a center is not too good for a guy who is going to lose his draws.  He could have easily been an assertive player on the 3rd line, but he's chosen to sort of fade into the woodwork.  We end up hearing after the season is over is that he's really hurt and couldn't do his job.  Not sure if that's something to admire or to be disgusted because his pride doesn't allow him to do his job the way it needs to be done.  

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41 minutes ago, CreaseAndAssist said:

 

Meh, Coyle is what he is.  He's a player who is a teaser.  He'll be a force of nature in the pre-season and then just kind of goes through the motions in the regular season.  I agree with Rotten, he's better on the Wing, and the idea of placing him as a center is not too good for a guy who is going to lose his draws.  He could have easily been an assertive player on the 3rd line, but he's chosen to sort of fade into the woodwork.  We end up hearing after the season is over is that he's really hurt and couldn't do his job.  Not sure if that's something to admire or to be disgusted because his pride doesn't allow him to do his job the way it needs to be done.  

 

So this season is going to be Charlie Coyle's breakout season...right? Right? 🤣

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Like many promising Wild players Coyle busted his ass, landed a nice $$ contract then backed off into oblivion.

 

His biggest claim to fame in highlight reels is when he waved to a little kid banging on the glass trying to get his attention. It got 3.6 million views.

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Rotten nailed it.  I've said as much on Twitter.   I have little doubt he's a nice guy.  And by what I can tell he's pretty unselfish.  Unfortunately, he fades into a supporting role a little too easily.  He could stand to be more greedy and the coaching staff have told him as much, but he continues to be content to be more of a role player.  The team needs him to be greedy, take his shots when they materialize etc...but he just doesn't take the reins when he needs to which always leaves you wanting more hence why I called him a teaser.  

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When Coyle first came up at center I thought he should stay there, he didn't score at center, but good things happened when he played center. Then they bounced him back and forth between center and wing, and I think he is just confused at where he should be.

I would give him about a fourth of a season at center with consistent linemates to show what he can do and trade him if he doesn't show improvement

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47 minutes ago, Tomdog said:

When Coyle first came up at center I thought he should stay there, he didn't score at center, but good things happened when he played center. Then they bounced him back and forth between center and wing, and I think he is just confused at where he should be.

I would give him about a fourth of a season at center with consistent linemates to show what he can do and trade him if he doesn't show improvement

 

If he has another garbage season, you might as well put him on waivers...because you're not going to get squat for him.  I think his confidence is kind of in an abyss.  Not being utilized in a consistent role does that, but he needs to be more assertive and selfish.  Multiple coaches have said that and its time he acts on that advice.  He needs it and the team needs it.  

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1 hour ago, Tomdog said:

When Coyle first came up at center I thought he should stay there, he didn't score at center, but good things happened when he played center. Then they bounced him back and forth between center and wing, and I think he is just confused at where he should be.

I would give him about a fourth of a season at center with consistent linemates to show what he can do and trade him if he doesn't show improvement

One thing to consider about moving him to center, is that there is already Staal at the #1 slot and Koivu at the #2 slot (as much as we want him out of that slot, it's not happening for at least two years.) So that leaves Coyle to be the #3 or #4 center with Ericksson-Ek. 

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Coyle has all the tools to be another Jamie Benn... Only on right wing instead of on left wing like Benn.

He's got size, decent speed (when he wants to show it) and a distinct nose for the net (when he wants to show it.) He's harder to knock off the puck than Benn, but if it wasn't for his 'aimlessly pass the puck away' and 'constantly losing himself along the boards doing nothing' style as opposed to being more assertive going toward the net more often... He's got all the tools physically to be a superb right wing. His conscious needs a good swift kick in the ass.

 

Of all the players on the Wild, Coyle has the biggest opportunity to be a superstar but he's leaning back too often instead of leaning forward. His mind has been groomed into is his own worst nightmare thanks to Andrew Brunette taking so much time to show him how to play along the boards. Ever since then Coyle's been as CresaeAndAssist said, in an abyss.

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Coyle is kinda Galchenyuk-like player: lots of potential, but stuck in this lame center-winger-ok-center-again-wait-no-go-to-the-wing-left-right-no-center-well-funk-dat. Doesn't help, but I'm questioning his ability to hurt himself and get out of the hole.

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Coyle needs to find an angry milf and discover there's a whole new world out there and his body really can endure a hell of a lot more than he ever thought.

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Wonder what Cole would attribute to his lack of success...? I would think he has to be very frustrated as well - would be curious what he attributes to why he isn't producing...  Would be interesting if he has an insane season the year his contract is up...

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I still don't mind when Coyle doesn't score as long as the line maintains the offensive zone and someone else scores and he contributes, but this will only happen if the yo yo game ends. Pick a position, wing or center, one or the other.

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I like EEk - but he also reminds me somewhat of Coyle... I hope EEk can put up some points this year - no doubt he's looking at all those opportunities he had this past year - but they just didn't want to go in...  Anyways, I hope he's one of the bright spots in the upcoming year...

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      I have been doing these for every team for years in here, I think this is team 26 this offseason so far, I have deliberately saved the Wild (as well as the Flyers) for towards the end as we have such a large contingent of Wild fans in here and quite frankly in these I call em as I see em, sometimes that tends to piss people off who think that their own team has the 21 best players in the game currently on the roster but that is not my intention, just a quick recap from an outsider point of view who lives and loves the greatest game going. Feel free to explore the whole place, look at some of the other teams pages if the mood strikes and you have time, don't feel you only have to post in the Wild section, all are welcome all over the place in here. Dave   FINAL RECORD 2017-18 45-26-11 101 points, 3rd in the Central, lost in five games to the Jets     Kind of a strange year for the Wild, yes they had a 100 point season which is still a nice benchmark to shoot for even in the loser point era but something felt off all year. They had a 5 game winning streak and a four game winning streak but other than that it was win a few, lose a few all year long. They never were particularly cold but they never really gained a lot of traction either, they just went along, had a 101 point season and then went home in five quick games against Winnipeg.   Eric Staal continued to prove that his signing was no mistake as he fired in 42 goals, Granlund had a very nice 67 point in 77 game season, one of my favorite players, Jason Zucker continues to overachieve and set new highs with 33 goals. Ryan Suter continues to be all things to all people playing nearly 27 minutes a night in all situations and putting up 51 points with Dumba right behind with 50 making the Wild one of only three teams with two 50 point defenseman. Brodin did a good job of establishing himself as a shut down guy with a nice first pass and Spurgeon is a very underrated defender rounding out a very underrated top four. .Dubnyk tended to run hot and cold but there are tons of teams who would be thrilled with a 35 win 2.52 goals against netminder. Also on defense Nick Seeler got his feet wet and didn't do too bad. Cullen and Winnick were professional bottom line guys who did a decent job.   as for what went wrong, well lack of depth kind of doomed the team, Koivu continues to slip, he was okay but is better suited to a middling minute 3C role and playing a 2C role seems to be a bit much at this point. Coyle missed 16 games and only managed 11 goals. Nino Niederreitter managed 18 but missed 19 games and really never found a defined role. Parise missed half the year, he did manage 15 goals in only 42 games tho. Tyler Ennis, seriously I don't understand why he was brought in. Stalock had a decent stretch as the backup goalie but also had times where he looked like an AHL backup. Joel Eriksson Ek was horribly misused, he averaged 12 minutes and change of ice time and literally averaged 6 seconds of power play time, IMHO he was set up to fail and I  think his best days are ahead of him, not sure what he did to Boudreau to get this kind of disrespect.  Kyle Quincey, Chris Stewart, Mike Reilly all were given ice time and found wanting and donated elsewhere for not a lot.  Prosser took a step back and may struggle to maintain a spot in the rotation.    FREE AGENTS Cullen and Winnick were solid bottom line guys who could move up in a pinch ,both are UFA and at their age probably wont be back. The big problem they have is Zucker and Dumba are both RFA and commanding a big payday and unless the cap goes up the Wild have just 7 million in room so someone may need to be moved out to clear cap space. At some point this year Staal will have to be addressed as he only has one year left on a sweetheart of a deal he will certainly want more on his next deal.   TOP PROSPECTS: Joel Eriksson Ek, IMHO has middle six written all over him but was misused all year, nobody alive can contribute when used as he was last year. I think he just needs 15 minutes of ice time a night with a shot on the very weak second power play and at the least he turns into a 40ish point guy with upside from there. Jordan Greenway came aboard after the Olympics and although very young the man mountain looks like a third line left winger who may move up, 15-20 goals and a snarl to his game he excelled at Boston U as a power forward. Nick Seeler is silky smooth and while it takes defenseman longer to develop than forwards he looked like he belonged after Reilly was donated to Montreal and he claimed his job. I am not a fan of Olofsson, he just looks like a warm body to me. Luke Kunin may replace Cullen as a 4th line center who can move up in a pinch, little upside but very usable. Carson soucy is someone that a lot of folks are high on but I am not so sure if he will make it. Kirill Kaprizov is a little jitterbug and creative force on the wing but he is staying in Russia for at least another year but the Wild are justifiably thrilled with his abilities.   Overall, not bad, lots of young depth players some with upside and a chance to move into key roles. Lots of teams sitting much worse. The knock might be no top tier player ready to step in but overall Eriksson Ek, Greenway, and Seeler alone ready to step in should make Wild fans happy.   OFFSEASON QUESTIONS   WHAT WILL STAAL DEMAND ON HIS NEXT DEAL AND CAN THE WILD PAY IT? After years of making 8 million with the Hurricanes he signed a deal at 3.5 million per for three years with the Wild in the same free agency class that saw the Wings and Bruins over pay and over term Nielsen and Backes. This is likely his last chance at a payday, I would think that based off his performance 3 years at or around 6 million per is not an unreasonable ask. The problem is the Wild next year are looking at 22 million in cap space with only 12 players under contract so it may be tight. If the kids develop at a million per or so for the three mentioned above plus Soucy, Kaprizov (next year) and Kunin it helps fill out the roster and make it doable. If they take a step back and or prove they need replaced it may make Staal unaffordable.    BOUDREAU, HOW LONG IS THE LEASH? A new GM is aboard and a new broom sweeps clean as the saying goes, there is every reason to believe that a slow start may send him packing. I have long been a Boudreau apologist because his regular season results speak for themselves but at some point you have to say he may just be the Hockey version of Gene Mauch and move on.   ARE THEY CUP CONTENDERS OR IS IT TIME TO RETHINK THINGS? well they have a damn solid top four on defense and Seeler in the mix and I always start by looking at a back end first. There top line of Zucker, Staal and Granlund is more than capable. To me right now I say no but a qualified no, they need to develop a middle six, Koivu and Coyle are best suited as second third liners and are punching above their weight class a bit, If Parise can stay healthy, if Greenway and Eriksson Ek develop, if another middle six center is added to the mix, they could compete but that is a lot of ifs.   Dubnyk is another question mark, as I mentioned he won 35 games with a decent goals against but he never quite felt right last year. A team can win a cup without a stellar netminder, the Wings won a few with Osgood as an example and he was an average netminder but it takes a special team to outperform their goalie. If Dubnyk performs like last year, no, I think that regardless of what else the team does they are just a bit short, if he finds a way to take it up a notch absolutely, a great defense, a solid top line and a defind middle six with Dubnyk 10 percent better could win a cup.
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      ^ What CreaseAndAssist said. Plus about a million and a half to two million of his salary was a hand-me-down from Parise to urge him to come here. Legitimately he's not worth the kind of money he's getting.   Make no mistake, Suter is a very capable d-man but in the Weber-Suter era in Nashville where they commanded a ton of attention as a defensive duo... Weber was the sh!t whereas Suter was the non-flashy stay at home guy. The Wild got Suter and automatically he was put in all kinds of offensive roles and for three horrendous years he sucked. I literally found myself counting how many times a game on the PP the puck would dribble over his stick and trickle outside the blue line. Absolutely NERVE-WRACKING! Lazily he'd opt to poke his stick out at the puck to stop it instead of moving his feet to get in front of it. It used to happen 3-4 times a game and sometimes 3 times on a single PP. Suter is still non-flashy (not that flashy counts) but if he can spare a half breath as opposed to moving his ass he more often than not spares a half breath.   He's also one of two players (he and Zach Parise) who sold out Mike Yeo and hired Adam Oates to help with the PP.   He's a millionaire playing like a millionaire.   Also don't forget: Three times in two years he was quoted after a game saying they pretty much let up (or gave up.) No, HE might have given up but many of the younger players on the team didn't give up. His attitude is horsesh!t.
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      ^^ Thinking about it - could it be how we actually pick and draft these people? For example, they're all incredibly polite, and I wouldn't doubt if they say "sorry about that" when they run into an opponent...  Could it be that our staff relies very heavily on "he's a nice guy and therefore I think we can mold them" - when those types of players all have that "kind gene" in their system that makes them attractive to our scouts...?   EEk and Coyle have very similar styles - but also Granny, Suter, and a handful of others from a demeanor perspective - even a Pomminville - all incredibly nice and polite people...  I'm talking the kind of people who just don't get all that worked up very often. Maybe that's our issue...(?) I'm not saying we need to be stalked with a bunch of Stewart-types, but maybe in addition to the system we play - there is also a personality component at play as well...  
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      I think you may be on to something. One thing the wilds scouts do is draft guys who are big, but play small. Size doesn't always turn into physicality. I'm kind of sick of seeing big guys play small.
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      (shrugs)  That's a great question.  The only thing I can gather is the established vets are threatened by them or they see Zucker, Nino etc as hindrances to bringing in other free agents.  I have long felt; even going back to Zucker's early emergence as a speedy scorer that he was shamed for his exuberance, skill, and scoring ability.  The vets hated his confidence and want to take the puck and score so they have complained to coaches, gotten his role reduced.  Honestly, is there any explanation why Zucker usually has to wait until the last minute or less of 3-on-3 overtime for him to see the ice, while Koivu and other slugs get 2-3 shifts?  He's your 2nd leading goal scorer and he gets little power play time and almost not opportunity in overtime.     I know we kind of tease Coyle about his acts of kindness towards kids.  But Zucker is about as active as it gets from a charity point of view and has all the playing intangibles I think you would want on your team (speed, scoring ability).  IMO, that's a player the team should lock in if they can, not deal him while giving boring as a rice cake Koivu around.  
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      Which has been brought up years ago when he (Zucker) kept being send back and forth to Iowa. It's all I could ever come up with going way back then and have said as much.   Granted, he lacked defensive skills but so did Gaborik. Who sat Gretzky when he was young and lacked defensive skills? Nobody. Yet of course Zucker is no Gretzky but putting a damper on someone with eagerness, desire, drive, ambition... Heart? Crazy dumb.   As mentioned prior to coming here to this board I noted how attractive Zucker would be for other teams if the Wild ever decided to deal him. He and his wife, so busy off the ice and with what he brings to a team anyway is like a marketing duo worthy of a really nice contract elsewhere... Especially after (in all honesty) not making much money here over the years which has always been wrongly slighted. The truth is he's always been screwed by the Wild.

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