With the season almost here, let's take a look at what the Wild's depth chart was before training camp.
Brunette Koivu Havlat
Sykora Sheppard Bouchard
Miettinen Belanger Nolan
Gillies Brodziak Boogard
Weller Pouliot Kalus
After attending the scrimmages this past weekend at the X, listening to exhibitions over the readio and following Russo's Blog, it would appear that there are a indidividuals that have created interesting situations during the pre-season.
Firstly, Pouliot has been given opportunities to play with skilled guys and has had mixed results. If he were to be kept on the roster, one would think it would be in a top-six role. No one has ever denied the skill-set, but rather the heart and intelligence to put in the effort needed to be a consistent NHLer. The main issue that helps Pouliot is the fact that in order for him to be assigned to Houston, he would need to pass through waivers.
Secondly, Bouchard has been placed back in the middle. Richards has tested him out there and I would be very surprised if that is where Bouchard ends up on opening night. Not only is he simply not good/big enough to be responsible defensively, he also did very poorly in the face-off circle against Columbus last Friday, going 3 for 11.
Another individual that has altered the above depth chart is Jaime Sifers. Coming from Toronto, the small defenseman has been getting rave reviews from everyone. He is definitely the one to challenge Scott for the 7th spot. He has been sticking up for teammates, making solid outlet passes and getting shots on net. Yes, he doesn't bring the physical presence of Scott...but if you are going to pay Boogard, you might as well dress him. (I will be writing a blog on the pros and cons of Boogard in the next few days)
Lastly, Gillies. Gillies, to me, is easy. I would put him in the minors to get 20 minutes per night, so that be can gain confidence in his offensive abilities. But, since he has speed and is a banger, he fits Richards' system quite well.
With that said, there are still two weeks left before the October 3rd opener against Columbus. Between now and then, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wild involved in a minor trade or buyout since I do feel one of the above individuals will cause one of the following to happen: Pouliot or Bouchard create logjam at center (I'm going with Pouliot before Butch), making Belanger expendable. Or Sifers makes the team as the 7th defenseman and Scott is put on waivers/bought out. I don't see us keeping Scott in the minors, taking time away from Falk/Stoner/Noreau.
That's allllllllllll folks.