Back a couple weeks, we took a detailed look at the defensemen on the roster. This week, we decided to focus in a position that for a decade was a source of trouble. In the offseason, Chuck Fletcher made a point to bring in some talent at the pivot. With the addition of Matt Cullen and John Madden, the Wild were to be a much better team down the middle.
Things don't always work out the way you planned them in July. The coach has to make adjustments, swap out lines and see what works. Chemistry and results let you keep your pivot. Winning always helps, too. The way the lines are set up is not how they were planned on paper, and as of right now, that looks to be OK.
So, did the acquisitions work? Who are the blue chips, is there any Fan Commitment Value left to be had? Make the jump and find out.
Mikko Koivu (KAPT) - A market analysts worst nightmare. A blue chip stock with consistent returns, paying a solid dividend, but is not trending upward. The question that then remains is if the stock is worth the long term investment it will take for those dividends to pay off. The answer here is an obvious "yes." If Koivu doesn't score 30 goals this season, no one should panic. He never has. If he doesn't put up 100 points, it's going to be OK. He never has. When you buy in to Koivu, you are buying into a long term, stable stock.
Kyle Brodziak (GLUE) - Brodziak has once again been tasked with a role outside his pay grade. Centering two playmakers such as Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard is something a grinder like Brodziak should not be doing. He is, however, doing the job, and will likely not be moved off the line unless there is a massive shake up of the lines. Despite the talent around him, Brodziak is not going to turn into a 70 point player, nor a 20 goal scorer. His true value still comes in on the defensive side of the puck, allowing Havlat and Butch to be a bit more creative with the puck.
Matt Cullen (TWI) - When Cullen was signed, it was clear that the purpose was to be the number two center, partnered with Havlat. They showed solid chemistry, but then it all just shut down. Cullen missed a couple games with a minor injury, came back and is now centering Cal Clutterbuck and a wing to be named later. Granted, Clutterbuck enjoys the second place spot in goals on the team, but this just does not seem to be the right place for Cullen. The fact that the team is winning means Cullen is stuck here for a bit. It will be difficult for him to meet the expectations we had for him on the third line.
John Madden (BOOM) - I hate to say it again, but Madden has not been great. I get it. He is a shutdown guy, not a scoring center. He is matched up against the best of the opposition every night, and he is bound to have bad nights, just like anyone else. However, his entire line looks beatable. I was expecting more from the checking line, and especially from Madden. That said, the PK is 17-17 lately, and Madden is a big part of that. Improvement in this line will guarantee a better result in the standings. The best offense is a good defense, right Sun Tzu?
The Rest of the Market
Minnesota Wild (W) - The Wild are rolling right now. Sure, they got blown out by Dallas, but they rode a hot streak from 14th in the conference all the way back into playoff contention. Every Wild fan alive knows to be cautious, to not go all in with this squad, because it could all turn right back around in a second. However, right now, they have confidence, and they have shown they can win. So long as they continue to trust each other, and continue to trust the system they play, they should be fine. Buy in now, folks, but hedge your bet.
Todd Richards (SUIT) - I haven't read a "fire Richards" post in awhile, so maybe we are past that. Probably not. The next time they lose three in a row, the calls will come raining down yet again. I, for one, will not be one of them. With what he has to work with, he is doing about as well as anyone could be expected to. The players look to have finally "got it" and are playing the way he tells them to. Magically, they are winning in the process. He still has some things to learn, such as when to pull a goalie, but if he wins, I guess you take the good with the bad.
Brent Burns (IJ) - All Star defenseman Brent Burns. It has a ring to it, doesn't it? In a season where it has all come together for Burns, he even defeated the dreaded "Russo curse" and did not break both legs after Russo recently wrote about him in the Strib. Leading the team in goals from the blueline, having a monster year defensively, Burns is what every fan saw he could be for years. He is still on an upward curve, so we haven't even seen how good he really is. I say the next title should be "Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns." Anyone with me?
Rating: Strong Buy