Friday, December 7, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10 Recap

As you saw in yesterday's post, we unveiled the #1 Wild player of all time. If you missed any of the posts, here they are again:

Thank you to all of those who kept checking back on a daily basis.

Next week, I will begin my Top 10 prospects list, so please check back.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #1-Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik
Seasons With The Wild: 8
Goals: 219
Assists: 218
Points: 437

On June 23, 2000, the Wild took part in the expansion draft, with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that draft, they built most of their team up for their inaugural season. But when they came out of that draft, they were missing an elite goal scorer on the team.

The very next day, the Wild held the 3rd overall pick in the 2000 Entry Draft. And following Rick DiPietro and Dany Heatley, the Wild selected 18 year old Marian Gaborik from Slovakia.

Gaborik had all the tools required to be the superstar the Wild needed. He had skilled hands, he could fly down the ice, and he had a snapshot that was far superior than most other players.

The good news was, he was very successful in bringing those elite tools to Minnesota.

In 8 seasons in Minnesota, Gaborik set most offensive records for the team, and set the bar for those records pretty high. At the time of his departure, Gaborik held the Wild all time record for Goals, Assists, Points in a Wild career, and also set many single season records in the same categories.

"Gabby" found a way to score at least 30 goals respectively, in 5 seasons here. He was the go to guy. The player you wanted to shoot the puck on a power play. During his time here, there perhaps was no other player in the league, who meant more to his team's success, than Marian Gaborik was to Minnesota.

Marian's finest season came in the 2007-08 division championship season, when he set the Wild single season record for goals, assists, and points when he put up a 42-41-83 line. He did it with his countryman, Pavol Demitra on his wing. And as we noted in Demitra's post last Wednesday, the two were great linemates together.

But despite the great goal scoring production from Gaborik, the big problem with him was his inability to stay healthy (A certain lower body injury was always the problem). Just 4 out of his 8 seasons here, he played in more than 71 games. And in those 4 seasons he did not, he averaged 49 games played.

And even though he had shortened seasons, he still found a way to score 30 goals in at least 5 seasons. So not a bad consolation prize for being oft injured.

In his final season in Minnesota, Gaborik went down with an injury early on in the season, and returned very late in March. But more importantly, the Wild were unable to trade him away and get something in return because he was shelved for all but 17 games in 2008-09.

The following summer, Gaborik departed Minnesota and signed a big contract with the New York Rangers (The same team he scored 5 goals on, in one game). In 3 seasons in New York, Gabby has scored 40+ goals in 2 of them, while staying surprisingly healthy.

Marian Gaborik, didn't exactly leave Minnesota on great terms. And now that its been a few seasons, the saltiness of his departure has left, and we can all just sit back and appreciate his time spent here.

He has been the best player in the short 11 year history of the franchise. But, the question is, will he still be #1, in another 11 years?

That concludes the Wild All Time Top 10 List! Thanks for reading along!
#1-Marian Gaborik

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #2-Mikko Koivu

Mikko Koivu
Seasons With The Wild: 7
Goals: 108
Assists: 253
Points: 361

Following their inaugural season, the Wild held the 6th pick in the 2001 Entry Draft. With that 6th pick, the Wild chose TPS forward Mikko Koivu. And the Wild struck gold when they drafted Saku's younger brother (Kudos to Tampa Bay, Florida and Anaheim for drafting Alexandr Svitov, Stephen Weiss, and Stanislav Chistov respectively ahead of the Wild drafting Koivu).

It took him 5 years before he finally made it to the Wild, but once he made it, it became very clear why the Wild drafted Koivu.

Koivu uses his elite vision and hands to set up the guys on his wing to score. He is a pass first guy, but when the situation calls for it, he can make a nice highlight goal himself. Unluckily for Koivu, he has spent most of his years, playing without a great forward on his wing (Until Heatley joined him last year), so his stats have really yet to fully get to where they can be.

(I didnt need to put this video in here, but Greenlay's pylon comment is awesome)

But more importantly, Koivu has been a tremendous team leader. He was named team captain a couple of times under the Jacques Lemaire system, but then in 2009, he was named the first permanent captain in team history. It is a position he still holds to this day, and will more than likely not lose it for as long as he plays in Minnesota.

In the 2008 playoffs, Koivu stepped up and scored 4 goals, in the team's 6 games played, including a go ahead goal with just under 2 minutes left in Game 2. But, since then, the Wild have yet to return to the playoffs (Ironically, most of that time has been under Koivu's captaincy). But give him another chance, and he will shine in the Stanley Cup Playoffs again.

Mikko Koivu, comes in at #2 in Wild history, in terms of the best player. But, he is the greatest leader this team has ever had.

Come Back tomorrow and see who comes in at #1
#2-Mikko Koivu
#3-Wes Walz
#4-Andrew Brunette
#5-Brian Rolston
#6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #3-Wes Walz

Wes Walz
Seasons With The Wild: 7
Goals: 82
Assists: 100
Points: 182

Following a 2 game stint with Detroit in 95-96, Wes Walz decided to take his hockey talents overseas. He bounced around in Europe for the next 5 seasons. But then in 2000, the NHL expanded by 2 teams, and Walz was given a chance to play in the NHL again with the Minnesota Wild.

Walz had a very quick turn around, making the transition back to the NHL very easy for him, scoring 18 goals in the Wild's inaugural season (The 18 goals was tied for the team lead with Marian Gaborik and Darby Hendrickson).

But, it wasn't being a goal scorer that made Walz a player the Wild kept around. It was his great defensive skills, as he was constantly being matched up with the opposing team's top line, and continually shut them down. Walz also was on the team's top penalty kill line, leading one of the league's top PK units during his run here.

During the Wild's improbable run to the conference finals in the 03 playoffs, Walz stepped up in a big way, scoring 7 goals and 6 assists, in addition to being on the ice with the likes of Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund.

After 6 full seasons with the Wild, Walz took a leave of absence in the 7th season after playing 11 games. After a month of being off the grid, the 37 year old Walz, returned to St. Paul and announced his retirement from hockey.

Walz has been one of the more popular players in team history (A recent HW post suggests #37 should be retired), despite the fact you rarely found him on the scoresheet. So that truly goes to show, how good he was defensively.

Because an entire fan base saw it, and still to this day, loves him for it.

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #2!
#3-Wes Walz
#4-Andrew Brunette
#5-Brian Rolston
#6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #4-Andrew Brunette

Andrew Brunette
Seasons With The Wild: 6
Goals: 119
Assists: 202
Points: 321

Following the Wild's inaugural season of 2000-01, they signed little know free agent forward Andrew Brunette to a 3 year contract. Brunette had just come off two seasons spent with the Atlanta Thrashers, in which he had scored 50 and 59 points respectively. Brunette came to the team, and became an anchor on their top scoring and power play lines.

Brunette never was gifted with his feet. So he had to make up for that, with his hands. Brunette was one of the more able stick handlers in the history of the franchise, and made a nice living around or behind the net, setting up scoring opportunities. He also was rarely injured, playing in all but 3 games of his 6 seasons in Minny.

In his first season with the Wild, he set a franchise record for most assists (48) and points (69) scored in a season (Both records have since been broken).

But Brunette's claim to fame with all Wild fans, of course, came in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. In Game 7 of the Quarterfinals against Colorado, Brunette put on a display of patience and stick handling, and scored the overtime winning goal to send the Wild on to the next round. No goal has even come close to being as significant as Bruno's goal in that game.

Brunette was released following the 03-04 season, and spent the next 3 in Colorado, much to the torture of Wild fans (He took it to us pretty good in the 08 playoffs). But, the following summer, then GM Doug Risebrough admitted it was a mistake to let Brunette leave (A pretty easy thing to say when he scorched your team in the postseason), and brought him back on another 3 year deal.

Over the course of the 3 year deal, Brunette played no less than 80 games and averaged 22 goals and 31 assists in those 3 years, while anchoring the Wild's top line with Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen. Unfortunately for Bruno and the rest of us, the Wild could not get back in the playoffs during his second stint here.

When you think of top players, you certainly won't be thinking of Andrew Brunette. But he certainly was solid, and was consistent in giving you 20 goals and 35 assists from the second line.

But he comes in at #4, because he is the hero Minnesota Wild fans needed...

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #3!
#4-Andrew Brunette
#5-Brian Rolston
#6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #5-Brian Rolston

Brian Rolston
Seasons With The Wild: 3
Goals: 96
Assists: 106
Points: 202

In July of 2004, Doug Risebrough signed 31 year old Brian Rolston to a 4 year contract, to help boost a stale Wild offense. He was coming off a season in Boston, where he scored just 19 goals and 29 assists, but at that point, he was better than any in house option they had.

Unfortunately for Rolston and the Wild, the 04-05 season was lost to a lockout, as well as a year of that contract he had just signed.

But once the puck dropped again, the Wild had found a second line scorer they sorely needed.

In his 3 seasons in Minnesota, Rolston tallied at least 31 goals, and set a career high in goals, assists, and points in 05-06, when he scored 34-45-79 to lead the Wild in scoring that year.

Rolston was a good skater, but what set him apart from the league, was his slapshot. Rolston would use it in any situation, whether it was a penalty shot, or in a shootout. No goalie in the league stood a chance against Brian Rolston's slapshot.

He was also a team leader, being named the team captain a handful of times during his tenure here (Back then, the captaincy was handed out on a monthly basis under Jacques Lemaire). He was instrumental in leading the team to the playoffs twice, and the team's lone division title in 07-08.

Even though he only played 3 seasons here, Brian Rolston made a tremendous impact to the team on the ice. After his tenure ended in Minnesota, Rolston has played for 3 other teams (Devils, Islanders, and Bruins), and he has yet to show anything close to what he was here in the State of Hockey. So we hope he can say that his best years, were his years with the Wild. Because all of us Wild fans should feel that way...

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #4!
#5-Brian Rolston
#6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Seasons With The Wild: 9
Goals: 98
Assists: 229
Points: 327

The Wild drafted Pierre-Marc Bouchard with the 8th overall pick in 2002. He was coming off a season in the QMJHL where he posted a line of 46-94-140 in just 69 games played. Without a doubt, the Wild made the best possible pick at that point in the draft (Only two other players drafted in the first round, behind PMB, made an All Star Game), a rare credit to former GM Doug Risebrough.

Bouchard played 50 games for the Wild the following season. What they found, was a forward with great hands and elite vision on the ice to create scoring plays. He also used his phenomenal foot work, to turn defenders and goalies alike inside out, while him and his teammates were on the attack.

It took him two full seasons with the Wild, before he finally made his breakthrough. In the 05-06 campaign, Bouchard ranked third on the team in scoring (17-42-59), only trailing the big stars of Rolston and Gaborik. In the following two seasons respectively, "Butch" scored 57 and 63 points, while playing in 163 out of a possible 164 games.

Following the 2007-08 season, the Wild signed Bouchard to a 5 year extension. And now we are in the final year of that contract (Lockouts do not stop the contracts from going. If a year is lost, the player loses a year on his contract), and it has been disastrous. In the first game of the 09-10 season, Bouchard suffered a concussion, and never played again that year. He had played in parts of the next two seasons to follow, but he still battled post concussion symptoms, which is why he was held out more times than none.

He has yet to fully return to that player he once was. Should the lockout end, and any type of season gets saved, Bouchard should be at 100% (Fingers crossed!), and we will get to see a glimpse of that great player one more time. Because his future in a Wild sweater, beyond the 2012-13 season, is very uncertain.

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #5!
#6-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #7 Niklas Backstrom

Niklas Backstom
Seasons With The Wild: 6
W-L-OT-SO: 160-109-42-26
GAA: 2.42
Save Percentage: .918

In the summer of 2006, the Wild signed little known Finnish goaltender Niklas Backstrom, to: 1. Fill the vacant roster spot left by Dwayne Roloson and 2. Back up Manny Fernandez. Backstrom had put up solid numbers playing for Oulun Karpat of the Finnish SM-liiga league (32-9-10-10, 1.68 GAA in his final season there), and decided to come play alongside the world's best players.

Following a Manny Fernandez knee injury in late January of 2007, Backstrom was thrown into the Wild's net as their number one goalie. He helped lead the team to their second playoff appearance, and earned his spot as the Wild's number one goalie. Its a position he still holds this day.

To date, Backstrom holds the following records for a Wild goaltender: Wins (160), Save percentage (.918), and Saves (9,213). His best season in the NHL, was by far, his first. He went 23-8-6-5 with a GAA of 1.97 and a save percentage of .929 in just 41 games. He has not come close to touching those in the seasons since.

But despite a bit of a fallback on the numbers, Backstrom has been a rock for the Wild in net (Except for maybe shootouts...). He has done a good job in keeping the Wild in games, especially in the ultra fierce Northwest Division.

Niklas Backstrom had some very tough holes to fill, when he followed Fernandez and Roloson between the pipes. But, he did far better than any of us had hoped, and he has cemented himself, as the best goalie in the franchise's short history.

Check back tomorrow to see who comes in at #6!
#7-Niklas Backstrom
#8-Brent Burns
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #8-Brent Burns

Brent Burns
Seasons With The Wild: 7
Goals: 55
Assists: 128
Points: 183

Brent Burns checks in as the only defenseman on this list. It took him a few seasons (Rotating back and forth between forward and defenseman), but he finally broke through as the big scoring d-man the Wild needed, in 07-08 when he notched 15 goals and 28 assists. In the combined 3 seasons prior to 07-08, Burns notched 12 goals and 35 assists.

Burns had injury riddled seasons in 08-09 (8-19-27 in 59 games) and 09-10 (3-17-20 in 47 games), but still had decent numbers in those seasons before bouncing back in 2010-11 with 17 goals and 29 assists, while once again anchoring the Wild's top d-man unit.

Burns was also a big physical presence (6'5", 225 pounds), and was not shy to throw his body around. In fact in 2 seasons (07-08, 10-11), he registered over 80 minutes in the penalty box, but more of that was due to his sometimes poor play in the defensive end, rather than his physical play.

There aren't many other defenseman who can even come close to cracking this list (Nick Schultz, Filip Kuba, Marek Zidlicky?). But Burns was the only one out of the bunch who stood out. 

Luckily for us, the Wild were smart to trade Burns while his value was high and he was traded at the 2011 NHL Draft in St. Paul for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and the 28th overall pick (Zack Phillips). So not only was Burns good for us when he played for us, he is still doing wonders for us now that he is gone. 

By all means isn't the best defenseman ever. But he did enough to crack this top 10 list, despite the injuries taking his best seasons away.

Check back tomorrow to see who comes in at #7!
#8-Brent Burns

Follow Giles on twitter @gilesferrell

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #9-Pavol Demitra

Pavol Demitra
Seasons With The Wild: 2
Goals: 40
Assists: 78
Points: 118

In the 2006 draft, then Wild GM Doug Risebrough decided to give up :s #17 overall pick and top prospect Patrick O'Sullivan to get the veteran forward Pavol Demitra away from Los Angeles (It was the #2 Draft Moment in Wild History, as ranked on this blog this past June). It instantly boosted a stale Wild offense, giving them a former 30 goal and 90 point scorer in Demitra. Oh...and he was going to play on the same line as his countryman Marian Gaborik.

From the opening puck drop of the 2006-07 season, Demitra was the man Gabby needed. But, he was also what the team needed. During that season, Demitra finished 2nd (Behind Brian Rolston) in points on the team, putting up a 25-39-64 line. He instantly became a fan favorite, helping the Wild to their 2nd playoff appearance in team history.

The following season, Demitra saw a drop off in goals (only scored 15), but carried the same number of assists (39), while being a driving force behind Gaborik's (42-41-83 +17) and the Wild's (Division Champs) season.

But unfortunately for Demitra and the State of Hockey, he could not help the team get that elusive Stanley Cup (Lost to the Ducks in 5 in 2007, and lost to the Avs in 6 in 2008), and the team let him leave via free agency following 07-08.

Following his tenure with the Wild, Demitra played a season and a half with Vancouver before he was released. He then played in the KHL for Lokomotiv Yarolsavl in the 2010-11 season.

Just prior to the 2011-12 season, Demitra was set to play for Lokomotiv once again, but he was killed along with the rest of his team as their jet crashed just as it was about to take off.

Pavol Demitra was one of the more underrated players in the NHL during his time. He was a 30 goal scorer 3 times in his career, and was consistently good at putting up at least 65 points in a season. He didnt quite have that type of success here, but, his contributions to the State of Hockey will never be forgotten.

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #8. 
#9-Pavol Demitra
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez 

Follow Giles on twitter @gilesferrell

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wild All Time Top 10: #10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez

Dwayne Roloson                                                       Manny Fernandez
4                        Seasons With The Wild                       6
62-71-26-17                     W-L-T-OT/SO                   113-102-20-20
.917                          Save Percentage                          .913
2.39                     Goals Against Average                      2.47

Never in the brief history of the franchise, has Minnesota been blessed with a better tandem of goalies (With all respect to current tandem of Backstrom/Harding).

They are counted as one, because at the time, you never singled out one goalie as better. You always referred to the Wild goaltender as Roloson and Fernandez.

Fernandez was a Wild original. He was on the team from the very first game until his trade to Boston following the 06-07 season, when he was replaced by Niklas Backstrom. Roloson joined the Wild in their second season, and left them at the trade deadline of 05-06, when he went on to help Edmonton reach their first Stanley Cup Final since 1990.

Together, the pair registered 132 wins and averaged a 2.45 Goals Against Average between them in 4 seasons (Would of been 5, but the lockout of 04-05 happened).

But perhaps, there was no better shining moment for the both of them during the Wild's run to the conference finals in 2003. Yes, the Wild won both series in 7 games, but during those series, there was a goalie switch, that helped turn the momentum to the Wild's favor, enabling to come from behind from a 3-1 deficit both times.

Thats how the tandem worked, one would be in, then when he would start to fall off a bit, the other would step in and pick up the slack.

Roloson did earn an All Star appearance for the Wild in 2004, when the game was held here in St. Paul. During that season Roli posted a line of 19-18-11 with a meniscule 1.88 GAA. Manny's best year came in 05-06 when he went 30-18-7-1 with a 2.29 GAA.

Both goalies could of/should of been a #1 during there time here. But instead, they split the time, and shared the rewards.

The Wild weren't a very successful team during the duo's time together (Lack of offense...). But, they always gave the team a chance to win. Every night.

Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #9.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Friday, October 26, 2012

More Cancellations

Today, the NHL announced the cancellation of all its games through November 30th. The cancellation brings the total of NHL games canceled this season to 326. This situation just gets more infuriating with each passing day. Also take in the fact that the NHL and NHLPA hardly speak, and that adds more fuel to the rage fire.

If no agreement can be reached by sometime next week, the NHL will have to cancel with Winter Classic and the All Star Game.

The fact is, is that this is a crucial juncture for the league and its players, and yet, no talks are scheduled. So unless a miracle happens, the Winter Classic (Which was set to be played in the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan) and the All Star Game (Set to be played in Columbus) will fall victim to this lockout.

Well done NHL and NHLPA. You represent this game so well.

funny gifs

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Monday, October 15, 2012


Saturday was slated to be opening night for the 2012-13 season. Instead, Xcel Energy Center was open for the few season ticket holders willing to come on out for an open house and skate around.

It seemed more like a graveyard. "Come on out and take a look at something that has been taken from us", should of been the slogan for this event. The locker rooms were empty. The concession stands were closed down. And there were no pee wee hockey players yelling "programs!" as you entered the arena. It was almost as if they were trying to push us to the brink of insanity.

It was just a painful reminder that NHL hockey is very far away. In fact, the reason there has been no posts on this blog for the past month is that there is just simply no desire to write about something that does not exist for the moment. I do have a lot of content ready to be blogged up, but as I said, there is just no desire to write about hockey at this point.

Maybe my mind will change on this at some point.

But for now, its just an empty feeling...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wild Rank 87th In Ultimate Standings

Yesterday, ESPN released its annual ultimate standings for 2012. The "Ultimate Standings", are an in depth ranking of all 122 professional sports teams between the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL).

The rankings take into account the following factors: Bang for the Buck, Fan Relations, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaching, and Title Track.

The Wild were ranked 87th (3rd out of the 4 Minnesota pro sports teams. Timberwolves-71st, Twins-83rd, and Vikings-100th) out of the 122 teams.

Their factors were rated as follows (Again, out of 122 teams):
Bang for the Buck: 102
Fan Relations: 61
Ownership: 70
Affordability: 93
Stadium Experience: 6
Players: 95
Coaching: 70
Title Track: 103

Ross Marrinson of offered this explanation for the Wild's ranking: "Even the beautiful Xcel Energy Center -- ranked by fans as creating the best stadium experience in the NHL -- can't hide the mediocre product skating on its rink, as the Wild continue to wither away in the doldrums of hockey irrelevance: 78th overall in 2010, 92nd in 2011 and 87th in 2012. Fans don't feel that the team demonstrates a commitment to winning (the Wild haven't eclipsed 90 points since the 2007-08 season) or gets enough from the money it spends. They voted the team in the bottom third of the NHL in seven of the nine categories. The excitement of getting a team after the North Stars bolted to Dallas has faded, and fans are left with an organization that's charging too much -- at $62.63, the average ticket price is ninth highest in the league -- and providing too little success (only three playoff appearances in 11 seasons). The Wild made a huge splash in free agency this year, signing the homegrown Zach Parise and former Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, which should help in the players and ownership categories, ranked this year at 95th and 70th, respectively. But for now, the Wild are where they've always been: searching for a talented team to match their state-of-the-art arena."

Hopefully, in the next few years, the Wild can move further up the ranking chart now that they should have a solid future ahead of them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A New Face In The State Of Hockey: Zach Parise

Zach Parise
195 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: July 28, 1984
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota

No free agent was more coveted in the NHL this summer than Zach Parise. And for the first time in...well...ever, a top free agent chose to sign in Minnesota. The Wild signed Parise to a 13 year contract worth $98 million on July 4th, giving him one of the longest and highest paying contracts in the NHL (Ryan Suter got the exact same deal).

In his 7 seasons in the NHL, Parise has been an offensive force, scoring at least 30 goals in 5 of those 7 seasons (He only played 13 games in 2010-11 due to a torn meniscus in his right knee). In 08-09, he set career highs in most major offensive categories when he put up a line of 45-49-94 and registered a +/- rating of +30. Parise is coming off a 31 goal, 38 assist season, helping the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Finals (Parise scored 8 goals and 7 assists in the Devils' run to the finals).

But there is much more to Zach Parise than his offensive skills. He is a very skilled defensive forward, making one of the better two way players in the game. He was an anchor on the Devils PK, leading them to the #1 PK ranking (89.6%) this past season. He set a career high with 3 shorthanded goals last year, making him all the more dangerous when his team is on the PK.

Additionally, Parise is a proven team leader. In 09-10, he was named alternate captain of the Devils, before being named their captain in 2011-12. Now that Parise is on the Wild he will serve as one of the team's alternate captain to Mikko Koivu (Please, don't think for a second Parise will be captain while Mikko still wears the Wild sweater. This is Mikko's team.).

Parise is a fierce competitor and plays the game very hard. Adding his skills to his desire to win every night makes him one of the game's best players.

He came within 2 wins of the Stanley Cup this past summer. He could of easily stayed in New Jersey so he could of given it another try to win it all with the only team he has ever played for. But he chose an alternate route. He believed the Wild had a greater future and gives him a better shot to win the Stanley Cup at some point than the Devils do. And that's ultimately why Zach Parise chose to sign with the Wild.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001 Zach Parise!

This was the fifth post in a five post series on the Wild's free agent signings. We have previously looked at Jake Dowell, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell, and Ryan Suter

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Face In The State Of Hockey: Ryan Suter

Ryan Suter
198 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: January 21, 1985
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin

Since he came into the league in 2005-06, Ryan Suter has been just about as solid as you can get in terms of defenseman in the NHL. He has played no less than 70 games a season. He has 5 straight seasons of scoring at least 30 points. And he carries a career +/- rating of +43. He is clearly, the right man to anchor the Wild blueline in the next decade.

Suter is not known for being a goal scorer (career high in goals in a season is 8). But that could be in part due to playing with an even better defenseman in Shea Weber all his years in Nashville. So now that Suter is free of Weber, you could perhaps see an increase in goal scoring now that his defensive partner will be Tom Gilbert.

Suter, as before mentioned is an iron man. He will play no less than 90% of the team's games. And last year, he was 3rd among all defenseman in time on ice by averaging 26:30 per game. Take into account his likely partner, Gilbert, averaged 31 shifts last year, you will see plenty of the two on the ice in the upcoming season.

Last year, the Wild seemingly shuffled a few players out there as the quarterback of their powerplay (Matt Cullen got the most time), due to lack of offensive defenseman (A big reason, in my opinion, that the Wild PP was atrocious in 11-12). Suter will now be stepping into that role, and moving whatever forward Mike Yeo wanted to put on the blue line, back to forward, and giving the Wild two bold power play lines. 

In addition to his skills, Suter is a proven leader. He served as alternate captain in Nashville the last few seasons, and will serve in the same capacity here in Minnesota. 

Ryan Suter is just about everything the Wild need in terms of a defenseman. And I for one am glad, he chose to take up residence in the State of Hockey for the next 13 years.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001: Ryan Suter

This is the fourth post in a five post series on the Wild's free agent signings this offseason. We have previously looked at Jake Dowell, Zenon Konopka, and Torrey Mitchell. Tomorrow will be our final installment in this series by taking a look at Zach Parise.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A New Face In The State Of Hockey: Torrey Mitchell

Torrey Mitchell
190 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: January 30, 1985
Birthplace: Greenfield Park, Quebec

Mitchell was signed by the Wild just a few hours after free agency opened on July 1st. He signed a 3 year, $5.7 million deal (Cap hit of $1.9 million per year) to be a stronghold on the team's 3rd line.

You may remember Mitchell, as the Sharks player who checked Kurtis Foster into the boards in San Jose and broke Foster's femur, just a few weeks prior to the 2008 playoffs (That was a huge blow to the Wild).

Mitchell does not jump off the page statistically (30-43-73 line in 260 career games). But if you watch him closely, he brings speed and gritty play to the table, something Mike Yeo is always looking for to add to the squad. He also will add some depth to the lower lines, something the Wild did not have much of in 2011-12. Mitchell is also a pretty decent penalty killer, so look for him to help bolster a pretty decent PK unit from 2011-12.

(Mitchell doesn't score often, but when he chooses to do so, he can make it look pretty)

He had played his entire 5 year career with San Jose to this point, so in addition to his gritty play, he will also bring some valuable postseason experience to the Wild. He has played in 55 playoff games thus far in his career, and that puts him up there with Dany Heatley (66), Matt Cullen (63), and Zach Parise (61) as team leaders in the playoff games category.

Torrey Mitchell has the characteristics to fit the Mike Yeo system perfectly, so look for him to be a valuable part of the Wild for the next three years.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001 Torrey Mitchell!

This is the third post in a five post series on the Wild's free agent signings this offseason. We have previously looked at Jake Dowell and Zenon Konopka. Tomorrow, we will take a look at Ryan Suter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New Face In The State Of Hockey: Zenon Konopka

Zenon Konopka
209 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: January 2, 1981
Birthplace: Niagara On The Lake, Ontario

Konopka was a July 1st signing, when he signed a 2 year deal worth $1.85 million ($925,000 cap hit per year). He played for Ottawa last season, and he posted 193 penalty minutes, which was third in the NHL behind Derek Dorsett (235) and Zac Rinaldo (232). 

As you can imagine, Konopka was simply brought in here to be the team's enforcer. Between 2009-2012 Konopka has spent those three seasons with three different teams (Lightning, Islanders, and Senators), but has racked up 765 penalty minutes, the most of anyone during that time.

Plain and simple, Zenon Konopka is here to throw some hits, and drop the gloves.

Like most bruisers, he doesn't give you much offensive production (11 career NHL goals). So he will be a mainstay on the fourth line for the next two seasons.

After Derek Boogaard left the team, we all thought Brad Staubitz was the team's future enforcer. After a year and a half of that project, Staubitz proved to be a poor replacement. But, they have found a proven NHL tough guy in Zenon Konopka. And I for one, am glad to have him on the team for the next two years.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001, Zenon Konopka.

This is the second post in a 5 post series on the Wild's free agent signings this offseason. Yesterday, we looked at Jake Dowell. Monday, we will take a look at Torrey Mitchell.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A New Face In The State Of Hockey: Jake Dowell

Jake Dowell
198 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: March 4, 1985
Birthplace: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

For those wondering, when did the Wild sign Jake Dowell? Well, he was signed about an hour before guys named Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed on with the team. (No, that is no way implying Jake Dowell helped bring Parise and Suter here)

There is not much you can say about Jake Dowell except for the fact he will drop the gloves when he needs to.

In his short NHL career, Dowell has racked up 133 penalty minutes in his 154 games played. In 08-09 with Rockford, Dowell spent 128 minutes in the box in his 75 games played.

He has scored a few goals in his time, but please by no means expect him to do so, while wearing a Wild sweater (11-22-33 line in his NHL career).

(Here's rare footage of a Jake Dowell goal)

Dowell projects as a fourth liner, who should only see time with the club if big bruisers Zenon Konopka and Matt Kassian are unable to play. So look for him to spend more time with Houston this year, protecting the club's best prospects.

Dowell was a 5th round pick in 2004 by Chicago, and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in 07-08. He is coming off a season spent with the Dallas Stars where he posted a line of 2-5-7 in 52 games and had 53 penalty minutes.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001, Jake Dowell.

This is the first part of a 5 part series on the Wild's free agent signings this offseason. Tomorrow's new face will be Zenon Konopka

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Its rather hard to believe, but one year ago today, I launched this blog. And what a year it has been (Not to mention, I started with a god awful background and I finally got a good one for the forseable future.).

In this year, we saw the Wild jump out as the best team in hockey in 2011-12, through mid December before suffering a collapse of historic proportions, en route to their fourth straight year of not making the post season.

But perhaps the pinnacle of this past year, came in July when the Wild bagged the two best free agents on the market in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.

Also in this year, I have been fortunate to come across some great blogs and some great people behind them:

-I love the guys over at Hockey Wilderness. They do tremendous work, and their content is second to none. They have set the gold standard for Wild blogs.

-Nate and Dan run First Round Bust, and they do a fantastic job doing so. Their work on prospects is outstanding. They have been huge in helping me get the stuff I put out there with their many mentions of my work, so a big thanks to them.

-Some of the other bloggers I've interacted with over cyberspace include: State of Hockey News, Jacques Lemaire's Trap, and Gone Puck Wild. Give these guys a follow, and read their stuff.

Of course it would be foolish to not acknowledge Mr Russo and all his fine work he gives us during the year. He is truly second to none among beat writers in the NHL. 

A big thanks to my friend Graeme, who continues to push me into being a better hockey fan. Truth be told, I started this blog to help me be as knowledgeable about the Wild and NHL as he is.

But lastly, thank you to everyone who continues to read the stuff I put on here. Especially in the past few months, everyone has been very kind in giving a few minutes of their day to read what I write.

So here's to hoping I can make the next year with the Team of 18,001 a better one than the last one.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Vacation Time Is Over

 I decided it was time to end my hiding and come back out and start blogging about my favorite hockey team. So in the next few weeks I'm gonna try and get as much in here as I possibly can, despite my seemingly full schedule. So please bear with me.

First of all, upon my return today, I noticed that I broke my monthly record for pageviews in the month of July, despite my last post coming on July 9th. So a BIG thank you goes out to everyone for helping me shatter the record again after I broke it in the month of June.

Over the next few weeks, I will have a few series of posts, including my new updated top 10 prospects list, and The Welcome To The State of Hockey series that I also did last year.

Also this week, the blog will be celebrating it's one year anniversary. So there will be a special post for that.

Lastly, while I was away, the Owners of the NHL and the NHLPA exchanged their first proposals in the hopes of reaching a new agreement on a CBA before the September 15th deadline, when the current CBA expires and the players will, unfortunately, be locked out. And unfortunately, there is no evidence to believe that the two sides will reach an agreement before the deadline. So don't expect the season to start on time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Parise and Suter Watch: Final Entry

(Left to right: Owner Craig Leipold, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, GM Chuck Fletcher, HC Mike Yeo)

This afternoon, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter took to the podium at Xcel Energy Center and donned Wild sweaters for the first time since signing equal 13 year, $98 million deals last week.

It was still surreal seeing both of them in Wild sweaters. It quite hasn't sunk in that both of them will be part of this franchise for the next 13 years. And it might not until they hit the ice this September for training camp (CBA permitting!).

Since the signing, we have talked about having realistic expectations and a new culture of winning. But, all there is really left to do is go out in the ice and perform.

So we bid farewell to the Parise and Suter Watch. It was a fun ride. But the even better ride begins this fall.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Culture of Winning

Yesterday, we talked about having realistic expectations for the 2012-13 season now that the Wild have Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on board.

But, eventually, with each passing season, there will become higher expectations. So say next year, we expect a playoff appearance. Then the next year we will expect, a second round playoff appearance, then a division title, and so on. Without a doubt, Craig Leipold, Chuck Fletcher, and company have their work cut out for them now that they have opened up a brand new culture to the State of Hockey: A culture of winning.

No, you simply cannot expect to have this culture just by signing Parise and Suter. Fletcher created this, by building up his farm system with immense talent (Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, etc.), while his NHL team struggled. Then last year he made some bold moves (Heatley and Setoguchi) to change it up in the locker room. And as we saw in the 11-12 season, his boldness paid off through mid-December. But then the bottom fell out from under the team and they limped across the finish line.

But now, Fletcher has his prospects signed and ready to play in Houston, and he has the big club looking its best, ever since he came on following the 08-09 season.

And now the real work begins. The team will open the season, and every other season for the following 12,  with the highest expectations in the history of the franchise. And now every time 18,000 fans flock down to St. Paul to see the Wild play, they will be expecting a Wild victory.

All because Chuck Fletcher has done what he was hired to do: Create a culture of winning.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Realistic Expectations

In case you lived under a rock all day Wednesday, the Wild signed on coveted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The news was by far the most celebrated news since it was announced that Minnesota was getting a hockey team back in June of 1997.

Today, there has been a lot of talk on what expectations are for this team, now that they have Parise, Suter, and their talented prospects signing on to play with either the Wild or their AHL affiliate, Houston. There have been some out there (Bleacher Report), who believes that this team has instantly become a Stanley Cup contender overnight. But, most realistic people (such as myself), believe this team has elevated themselves to a definite playoff team, but not much more than that.

Even with Suter in the fold now, the defense on this team is still very young and inexperienced. Youngsters Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, and Justin Falk (who signed a 1 year contract yesterday) look to improve from their first full season in the NHL in 2011-12. Tom Gilbert was brought in at the trade deadline to add some offensive to the blue line. And Clayton Stoner is back with the team on a new two year deal and he brings some much needed physicality to the defense. Its not exactly the best, but potentially, it could be a good one.

The Wild offensively should be solid with the top 3 lines consisting of Heatley-Koivu-Parise, PMB-Granlund-Setoguchi, and Cullen-Brodziak-Clutterbuck. They should be in the 10-15 range in terms of goal scoring in the NHL.

So, yes, we all should expect playoff hockey next April. But should we expect Mikko Koivu to be lifting the Stanley Cup next June? No.

But it will be the most fun we have had in 4 years…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Parise and Suter Watch: Christmas In July

It happened.

The news Wild fans had been seeking for more than a year, finally came this morning when free agent F Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter both signed on with the Minnesota Wild. Per Russo, both players signed 13 year deals worth $98 million. That pans out to around $7.5 million annually for the pair.

Honestly, I don't think I can go much into this at this point. I'm too fired up. I'll break this down more when I calm down.

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Suter and Parise Watch: Waiting Game

Late this morning, Zach Parise arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Not to be taken to Xcel Energy Center, to be introduced as the newest member of the Minnesota Wild, but merely he is just going home. 

After 2 days at his agent's offices in Toronto, Parise best felt he could make the long awaited decision from his home after talking to his loved ones. Reports have the Wild, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Pittsburgh all making huge offers to the Devils captain.

Meanwhile, Ryan Suter continues to ponder his decision from his farm in Middleton Wisconsin. Many believe Suter will be waiting until Parise makes up his mind, before he decides to sign on somewhere. Its believe by some (Including Lou Nanne who spoke on KFAN yesterday) that if Parise signs in Minnesota, Suter will too. But should Parise sign elsewhere (Say, Pittsburgh), Suter will most likely end up in Detroit.

There has become an abundance of impatience on twitter between yesterday and today with the lack of decision on Parise's and Suter's part. But you have to understand, they are about to sign on with a team for the majority, if not all, of the remainder of their careers. And, when you have 5-6 teams knocking at your door, you want to take your time and make the right decision.

A decision could come as early as tomorrow from the Parise camp. But, I'd give him another day due to the 4th of July (Happy 4th in advance!), so look for his decision on Thursday. And you could bet Suter's decision follows closely thereafter.

UPDATE: Shortly after this was posted, Russo reported the the Wild contingent of Owner Craig Leopold, GM Chuck Fletcher, and Head Coach Mike Yeo met with Suter today in Madison, Wisconsin. This following reports that the Detroit Red Wings had been to Madison earlier in the day and visited Suter.

So following this report, one could assume that Detroit and Minnesota are the two finalists in the Ryan Suter sweepstakes (Unless more teams visit him on Wednesday). 

UPDATE 2: Later this evening, Russo was back at it again as he tweeted some rather interesting tidbits after his talk with Josh Reimer from NHL Home Ice. 

His first tweet was that Parise said he talks to Devils GM Lou Lamoriello 2-4 times per day since this process has begun. 

And tweets 2 & 3 were regarding Parise and Suter. Parise was quoted as saying he would love to play with Suter on a team, and that the two of them have been talking and that they also plan to talk (if they haven't already) again tonight. 

Russo ended by taking a guess that Parise will take one more day to decide his future and sign on with a team on the 5th. And as stated above, Suter will more than likely sign on shortly after.

To see my previous posts in the Suter Watch series, please click here

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wild Sign Konopka & Mitchell

This morning at 11 am, free agency opened up in the NHL. About 90 minutes later, the Wild announced they had sign F's Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell. Konopka was signed to a 2 year deal worth $925,000 each year and Mitchell was signed for 3 years worth $1.9 million each year.

Konopka has played parts of 7 seasons in the NHL and has bounced around seemingly every year. He has previously played for Anaheim, Columbus, Tampa Bay, New York Islanders, and Ottawa. The only team he has spent more than one season with is Tampa Bay (2008-2010). Konopka is an enforcer and has ranked atop the PIM charts in the NHL the past three years (265, 307, 193 PIMs in those respective years). He will bring a tough guy element to the Wild that the team has not had since the late Derek Boogaard left the team. But, one would argue that Matt Kassian did a solid job in that role in the limited time he got up here last year.

Mitchell comes over from the San Jose Sharks after spending parts of 5 seasons playing for them. He will add a more gritty element to the team and will spend time on the third or fourth line for the next three years. Mitchell has never put more than 23 points in a season, so don't expect to find him on the scoring sheet much. As Russo pointed out in his blog today, Mitchell has good speed and is an excellent penalty killer, a player Coach Mike Yeo loves to have.

So far, we have seen the Wild get much tougher here in free agency. With these moves now in hand, it would appear that Chuck Fletcher and his staff will be focused on signing the big fish in the free agency pool (Parise, Suter).

Welcome to the Team of 18,001 Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Low Expectations

Tomorrow is the day we all have waited for.

For over a year, Wild fans, including myself, have been dreaming about this day. The day when New Jersey F Zach Parise and Nashville D Ryan Suter hit the free agent market, and the Wild are at their doorstep offering them a deal they can't possibly say no to.

But, the Wild won't be the only ones offering the two most coveted free agents contracts when the clock hits 11 am central time Sunday morning.

Parise could end up re-signing with New Jersey without even hearing another offer. But, should he hit the open market, he is expected to receive offers from the following teams: Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. And if you had to rank teams, most would have Minnesota at the bottom of that list.

Suter, meanwhile, will test the open market. As Russo has hinted for the past week, Suter will probably take a few days before he signs on with someone. Nashville has been trying to re-sign him before free agency starts, but he wants to see what is out there. But when the doors open up on Sunday, Detroit, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh are all expected to throw offers his way. And again, Minnesota is not at the top of many lists when it comes to signing Ryan Suter.

This is something the we all have waited for. But, the other teams in the mix for these two guys are powerhouse names in the NHL right now. They have the opportunity to win now, and they can give them the money they so desire. Minnesota can offer them the money, but only the opportunity to win a few years down the road.

Chuck Fletcher has such a tough sell, and to be honest, he may not have the tricks up his sleeve to sell them on coming to Minnesota.

I will be watching closely and hoping on Sunday (And the days after), that the Wild can sign the two.

But will be expecting either of them to sign on here? Absolutely not. And you shouldn't either.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farewell Guillaume Latendresse

Today, Russo confirmed what was first reported last night: Guillaume Latendresse will become a free agent on July 1st.

Guillaume followed up the news on twitter today by offering up the following statements:
"Thanks to all the Wild fans, the organization, the coaching staff, and the players. I'm moving forward on a new chapter in my career. That decision was made because I have a son of 4 years old in Montreal and I think he needs me. We will see what the market has to offer. Thanks to everybody in Minnesota, you guys were great to me."

This was not the news one would of hoped for from Latendresse and the Wild. Latendresse had just played 27 out of the 162 games in the past two years due concussion symptoms. The Wild were hoping he would come back on a one year, bonus laden deal, as the two sides had been talking for almost a week now. But it was clear that Guillaume wanted to move closer to home.

He would of loved to remain in Minny, but he felt it was time to move on. It stinks, but you have to respect his decision. He is not leaving for money, he is leaving for family.

So as we bid adieu to the Guillaume Latendresse era in Minnesota, we look back at some of Guillaume's finest moments in a Wild sweater.


But perhaps there was no better goal, than the one that tied the game at 5, capping off an epic comeback by the Wild on January 9, 2010.

Farewell Guillaume. You will be missed by the Team of 18,001.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Suter Watch: Preds To Make One Last Effort

I had a Suter Watch entry on the blog yesterday, but I felt there was sufficient news today on the subject to post another one.

In his blog today, Preds beat writer Josh Cooper, gave us an update on where the Ryan Suter situation stands with the Predators. He says that Nashville GM David Poile will make "one last ditch effort" to re-sign the all star defenseman before he becomes a unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Suter is by no means expected to re-sign with Nashville before July 1st, but Cooper has often speculated that Ryan could very well end up returning to Nashville after testing the free agent waters.

But, to make matters worse for Nashville, today, one of their plan B options for if Suter left, Dennis Wideman, had his rights traded from Washington to Calgary and the Flames instantly inked him to a 5 year, $26.25 million deal (Well done Calgary...not!)

When healthy, Wideman can put up similar numbers to Suter (Wideman can score goals a shade better than Suter). So should we expect Suter to sign a similar type of deal come July 1st? No. Suter has been considered the best defenseman on the market, so at minimum you can expect him to make $6 million per year. And Suter will definitely be receiving a contract that is longer than 5 years. Bank on it.

The stakes just got that much higher for Ryan Suter. Man I can't wait till July 1st.

Here are my previous posts in the Suter Watch series:
"Is There Really A Chance?"
"Extension Talks Over"
"Potential Suitors"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Suter Watch: Potential Suitors

In my last post on the Suter Watch, I mentioned that it would appear that Ryan Suter would more than likely be heading to free agency. Shortly thereafter, multiple media outlets were reporting that Suter had broken off talks with Nashville for an extension and will go to free agency on July 1st. 

So now that it is clear Suter will be available to anyone come Sunday, here is a look at the potential teams who could sign the free agent D-man:

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers lost their best defenseman and team leader, Chris Pronger halfway through the 2011-12 season when he suffered a nasty concussion. The timetable for his return is unknown at this point. And on July 1st, their next best defenseman, Matt Carle will become a free agent as well. So the Flyers could potentially make a run for Suter if they so choose to move on from Carle. They are viewed more as a long shot to sign him, but they should be considered nonetheless. 

Nashville Predators: The Predators made a strong push to resign Suter this offseason. But, he has chosen to test free agency and see what is out there for him. As it has been noted many times, Suter could simply be testing free agency, but ultimately he could just re-sign with the team he came up with. Nashville may not give him the best offer, in terms of money or future, but it should be seen as a strong possibility that he returns to the Music City.

Minnesota Wild: No team could use an established defenseman on this list more than Minnesota. They have some good young d-men on their roster, but they lack a veteran presence and a d-man with good offensive skills. Minnesota perhaps, presents the best chance for Suter to win long term with their young prospects set to begin their entry level contracts. But, it would be a few years before Minnesota can potentially be a Cup contender. That is something other teams on this list, can offer him more instantly. 

Detroit Red Wings: There is a gigantic hole on the #1 defensive pairing for Detroit entering 2012-13. They lose their team leader and face of their franchise in Niklas Lidstrom when he retired earlier this month. The Wings do present a great chance to win down the road, and they are one of the most revered franchises in the NHL. The Wings are considered a favorite to land Suter, but the question is: Does he want to fill the shoes left by the legend, Lidstrom.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Before the NHL Draft, the Penguins had little cap space to even be considered in the mix for Suter. But a couple of trades later (Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek), the Pens have sufficient cap space to go after Suter and, if they can move Paul Martin, Zach Parise too. The Penguins need a defenseman much like Suter to man the powerplay with Kris Letang, and one who can provide efficient work in the defensive zone (See the Penguins defensive play in the playoffs against Philly). Pittsburgh, much like Detroit, is a top canidate to land Ryan Suter's services.

This is the third post in the Suter Watch series. To read the others click here and here

2013 Hockey Day Minnesota Announcement

Today, on their Wild Road Tour, the Minnesota Wild announced their matchups for the 2013 Hockey Day Minnesota, which will take place in Grand Rapids.

It will once again feature three high school games (2 played live, and one on tape delay), and they will be played on Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids. Those games are as follows: Eagan vs Hibbing, Benilde St. Margaret's vs Grand Rapids, Hibbing vs Grand Rapids (Girls, also on tape delay).

The college game features the University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota in their final meeting as WCHA rivals (Minnesota moves to the Big 10 conference the following year).

And capping off the night will be the Wild taking on the NHL's favorite franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins in what should be a very good matchup (Assuming of course Zach Parise doesn't sign with Pittsburgh. Knock on wood!).

The times will be announced at a later date. All games will be broadcast on FSN North (Ugh!).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wild Draft Recap: Rounds 2-7

In surprisingly the same amount of time it took to go through the first round last night, the NHL finished up the final 6 rounds of the annual entry draft this morning. The Wild held a pick in every round this morning and in every round but the second, it was the 7th pick of the round (The second round pick was 16th in the round, which was acquired in the Marek Zidlicky trade). Here is the list of players the Wild drafted today:

2. Raphael Bussieres LW Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
3. John Draeger D Shattuck-St. Mary's (MN)
4. Adam Gilmour C Nobles (MA)
5. Daniel Gunnarsson D Lulea (Sweeden)
6. Christoph Bertschy C Bern (Swiss)
7. Louis Nanne LW Edina HS (MN)

Add the first round pick Matt Dumba to that list, and you have 3 defenseman taken with the first 5 picks in the draft. So clearly, there was more of an emphasis on that position for Chuck Fletcher and his staff.

Its far too early to grade this draft. It will take quite some time before we know the answer on any of these picks, so judging any of them would be a complete waste of time right now.

I've already seen some negativity regarding the team's final pick, Louis Nanne (Yes, the grandson of former North Star Lou Nanne). People seem to think the team picked him just to say we have some Minnesota players in our system. Come on folks, be real. The team drafted him, and all these players because they felt they were the best player available on the board. Quit making such idiotic remarks.

Now that the draft is over, we now look ahead to 8 days from now when NHL Free Agency begins. Its the day we all have been waiting for, but will it be as glamorous as we all hoped?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wild Select Matt Dumba

Tonight, with the 7th overall pick, the Minnesota Wild drafted defenseman Matt Dumba from the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Dumba scored 20 goals and added 37 assists in his 2011-12 season with Red Deer. He projects to be a #1 defenseman with great offensive skills. But obviously, he will be 2-3 years away from actually suiting up in the iron range red.

The Dumba selection came as no surprise to me. I was slightly hoping they would take F Flip Forsberg, who had fallen to the Wild at #7 (and eventually fell to Washington at #11), or if they truly wanted a d-man go with the more physical Jacob Trouba. But, Chuck Fletcher stuck to his guns, and chose Dumba.

The decision to go with Dumba fills a hole in the Wild system. They lack a high offensive upside defenseman in their system, and their NHL roster for that matter.

So all in all, I am pleased with Chuck Fletcher's decision to draft Matt Dumba.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001, Matt Dumba!

Draft Links

Tonight, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will step to the podium at Consol Energy Center just after 6 PM and kick off the 2012 NHL Draft. Everyone wants to know who will Edmonton take #1? Will Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, and/or Roberto Luongo be traded tonight? Well, in just a few hours, our questions will be answered.

  • Instead of trying to cram one last post in before the draft, I figured I would just throw out some links from some other blogs as to how the Wild will approach this draft. 
  • Hockey Wilderness looks at the history of the 7th overall pick. 
  • Jacques Lemaire's Trap goes through the possible players the Wild could select with the 7th pick tonight.
  • First Round Bust gets some of the Wild blogosphere together to tell you who they would like to see drafted (Yours truly is one of the bloggers to speak in this piece).
  • Russo chimed in today with his pre-draft thoughts. 
  • Grant Sonier posted his final mock draft for He has Murray going #1 to Edmonton, Ceci to the Wild.

I will be heading out to Tom Reid's for the Wild Draft party later tonight. Should be a good time. I will have a post up upon my return (unless I go nuts at the bar :D), recapping the first round and the Wild's pick tonight.