Since the team does not seem interested in giving us anything new or interesting to write about, I am going to step back and look around for something, anything to keep us entertained.
Today, we look at Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and what his role is on this team, should he return anytime soon from his concussion.
Make the jump, and let's try to have some fun.
Let me preface this entire post with a couple things. First off, there has been absolutely no indication that Butch is ready to return. As a matter of fact, all indications are exactly the opposite, that he is still very far from even returning to skating, let alone practice or game play.
Second, I like Butch. I like the game he plays, and I like the dynamic he brings to an offense. He is a class act kind of guy, and has been a loyal member of this squad for a long time.
Now, that said, he has no role on this team. None that I can find anyway. He is a play making, pass first, try to set up the beautiful play kind of guy. The roster is full of them right now. Martin Havlat has gone from being held on high as the heir apparent to Gaby for putting points on the board, and that just has not happened. Havlat's game looks an awful lot like Bouchards, save for the spin-o-rama at the blue line. So, even if Bouchard is a master of the play making type, the Wild still really do not need him.
Should Bouchard magically reappear in the line-up, where do they put him? Does he skate at center, a position the Wild desperately need help with? What line does he fit with? Does he go back to wing? Which skater deserves to be dropped from the roster to make room for him?
Sheppard has had very public struggles, but plays on the fourth line. They cannot send Shep down without clearing waivers, and there is still some doubt he would clear. Even if he did, Does Brodziak deserve the demotion to fourth line? Does Belanger? Brodziak and Belanger have played pretty well thus far this season, despite Belanger having a recent slump. There is no way Butch deserves a spot at center on this roster. Not to mention that he has had no time to learn the position, as was the hope coming out of training camp, and the Wild cannot afford to have on the job training happening at such a vital position.
I would listen to the argument of moving Pouliot to the fourth line center position, giving Butch a role back on the wing. That situation still begs many questions. Pouliot is playing the best hockey of his career right now, as sad as that may be. Is it worth sending him to the fourth line to give Butch a spot? Does Pouliot deserve the demotion?
Butch cannot possibly be counted on in a checking line situation, so he would have to skate on one of the top two lines. Does he replace Miettinen of Brunette on Mikko's line? Does he skate opposite Havlat? Does he displace Owen Nolan down to a checking role? Can he even be mentioned as a replacement for Clutterbuck or Boogaard at this point?
Mikko's line has shown some good chemistry. The Belanger, Nolan, Havlat line has shown some spark, only to be doused by the wet blanket that is Marty Havlat. The line of Brodziak, Clutterbuck, (fill in random winger here) have shown they can play both ends of the ice.Boogaard has had so many scoring chances this season it seems only a matter of time before one goes in. Heck, even Robbie Earl has shown he can play. Kobasew is out, as is Sykora, two guys who by pdigree deserve a spot before Butch does. They alreay have John Scott fighting, literally and figuratively, to stay in the line-up.
This team still is not what it can be. They are playing better within the system, but are still a roller coaster. They have only put together a handful of 60 minute efforts, and have yet to discover a finisher. (A side note, if I were Robbie Earl, I would be shooting the puck every time I touched it, but that's just me.)
It looks to me like Bouchard adds little or nothing to the team, even when he does return. So, Wilderness readers, what is Butch's role on this team? Say he were to come back for the next game. Were does he skate? Who does he displace? Who goes back to Houston? Who sits in the press box to make room for him? How many more questions can I ask before I finish this post?