I saw this segment on NHL Live yesterday, so I figured I would give this a try on here. This one is not pretty so please read with caution:
1. Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre Marc Bouchard will not return this year: Russo hinted at this the other day, I believe. But to expect either of these two players to return to action this year, is rather ridiculous. Both are battling concussion symptoms (Latendresse returned briefly in December, but had a relapse after throwing his body around too much), and as we all have seen, this takes a lot of time to recover from. The Wild have suffered greatly with both out of action due to the team’s lack of depth, and it will continue moving forward with both out of the lineup. So please don’t expect both to return at all this year…but one can hope right?
2. The Matt Cullen signing has failed: If hockey were a 2 month sport, Matt Cullen would Wild’s top scorer. But, unfortunately, it’s not. And Cullen has been abysmal in the months not named October or November in his two seasons in a Wild sweater. In 56 games this year Cullen has posted an 11-18-29 line, and is a -7 on the season as well. He is on pace to score around the same amount as he did in 10-11 (12-27-39 in 78 games). Cullen was brought in to add some offense and some depth to the power play. But he has done nothing to that extent (It pains me to watch him on the power play now). When you are being paid $3.5 million, you have to put up more than 39 points in a season. Too bad we have to endure one more year of this.
3. Time to resign Kyle Brodziak: Before injuries to Latendresse and Bouchard, Brodziak was playing unbelievable hockey. But, he has come back down to earth a bit, but nonetheless, it’s time to sign him to an extension. Brodziak has been the team’s best center at times (sorry Mikko) this year, and held sometime on the top line while Mikko Koivu was down with injury. He is a very valuable asset to this hockey team now and for the future, so locking him up should be a no brainer for GM Chuck Fletcher.
4. We still got the better of the Heatley-Havlat trade: Despite Heater’s slow production pace to start the year, he has picked it up as of late. He currently holds a line of 19-21-40 and has played in every game this season. Heatley still has a shot to hit the 30 goal mark this season (He needs to score 11 in the team’s final 26 games), something that has not been done since Marian Gaborik resided in St. Paul. Meanwhile, Havlat has seen injuries holding him back to just 26 games so far this year, and has produced horribly (2-13-15) on a very offensively gifted team. So if there is one thing Wild fans can hold their head up about this year, it’s this trade that landed us Dany Heatley.
5. This team will not make the playoffs: It can’t get much worse than this. This team was atop the NHL standings in mid December. But since, it’s been a train wreck. The team has lost all confidence in its ability to do anything. And it cost them their spot atop the NHL standings, the West, the division, and now it will cost them an appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s been a very painful couple of months for the State of Hockey, and it won’t get better until next season. The front office might as well admit defeat and start trading some players (Zidlicky, Zanon, Harding) and get something in return. In fact, at the rate their playing, they could end up with a top 5 pick in June’s entry draft. And what’s the harm in that?