Predicted Fates: Moving Parts

Well, it looks like I'm late on the draw... the roster already went to 23 players... First of all, great job on making the initial roster Brett Bulmer! I thought for sure they'd see you off!

Since I'm late on the post (I'm 8 hours ahead of Central Time... thanks US Army!) I'll instead explain the significance of the current moves and predict what is probobly in the Wild's best interest with players on the IR and of course, the work horse himself, Brett Bulmer.

Nate Prosser and Drew Bagnall: Prosser and Bagnall were the two defensemen assigned to Houston to start the season. Both are interesting players to think about on the roster as both bring certain elements to the table which benefit the Wild. Prosser is a very well rounded defenseman who is able to play in all situations and hold his own. He's valauble on the power play due to his natural offensive skills, and is servicable on the PK due to decent smarts and ability to position fairly well. Prosser's big knock, however, is the same as his strengths: he does everything well, just not exceptional. While an all-situations defenseman is an asset to any team, this Wild squad needs to start picking its strengths and using them against the opposition. It's going to be a battle for blood night in and night out to be picked for the third pairing come the regular season. Prosser's demotion to Houston may be within his best interest. He put up decent numbers in the Aeros regular season, especially for his first in the pros. His performance in the post season left a little to be desired, however and further seasoning is definately nothing close to career banishment at this point. Prosser is really only one season removed from his final year of NCAA play, and further polishing may result in the Wild developing an all-situations defenseman with some above average offensive upside.

I imagine the Wild had a few decisions to make when it came to logically planning what to do with Drew Bagnall. Bagnall is a physical defenseman with a definate mean streak. One could call him an enforcer, but it should not be forgotten that Bagnall isn't exactly a slouch on defense. At age 28, Bagnall isn't a prospect anymore, but with as many young players the Wild has, having a little bit more maturity in the room never hurts. Bagnall's physical play would have been something the Wild would have liked as last season, as it seemed they could never clear the front of the net, leaving poor Niklas Backstrom out to dry on numerous occasions. However, his size and physical play may indeed be missed, but its important to realize that the young guys with roster spots all have good frames and it can be counted on they will be asked to pick up the physicality. The final argument against Bagnall is he's a triple digit PIM collector. With the amount of youth on this Wild squad, penalties need to be reduced to keep the young guys fresh and assignments clear. Clutterbuck and Staubitz are already 200 PIMs collectively and you can bet both will be told to lighten up their time in the sin bin.

Matt Kassian: Kassian will begin the season on the injured reserve. Kassian has proved to be an excellent policeman in the AHL, and can definately stand up to the job in the NHL. Kassian is currently blocked by Brad Staubitz and unless Staubitz proves to be unable to protect the likes of Koivu, Heatley, Seto, Bouchard and Latty, he'll most likely spend the entire season in Houston, proving he can further withstand the life of a professional goon. Kassian is definately a better fighter than Staubitz and plays meaner, but Wild fans should remember the woes the late Derek Boogaard (RIP) brought when he was here; he was a no-factor in anything other than intimidation and head bashing.

Mike Lundin: Lundin will also begin the season on the IR. Unlike anybody else, however, Lundin should be a lock to replace somebody upon his return. Lundin is known for his superior skating and great positioning on defense. With a defensive corp that is ripe with rookies, Lundin's consistancy as a good, smart defender will help even out the Wild's defense. Lundin will never impress anyone on the score sheet and in fact, fans will probobly deem him fairly useless as the season drags on and may never receive the credit he deserves as a night-in, night-out guy. Regardless, Lundinw will play an important role upon his return and this means someone has to go...

Marco Scandella: Scandella made the big club to begin with, but his position is temporary pending the return of Mike Lundin. Between the four young guys of Scandella, Falk, Stoner and Spurgeon, Scandella is probobly the rawest talent at this point. The Wild have hopes Scandella can mature into a top four defenseman who excels in all situations and retains some above average offensive upside. Scandella had a pretty decent stint in Houston last season, posting 19 points in 33 games and was praised for his ability to keep up with the play. What he lacks, however, is Spurgeon's more developed offensive game at the NHL level and the physicality and refined defensive game that Falk and Stoner bring to the defensive zone. Scandella will look at another year in Houston and prove to the high management that he can not only repeat a good season in the minor club, but improve his already vast skill set to maximize his potential.

...and... starting for Minnesota... BRRRRREEEEEETT BUUUUULLLLLLMERRRRRR!

Well Bulmer proved me wrong. He's here to at least start the season with the big club and should see some action coming. Unfortunately, even though I've been proved wrong once, I still believe Bulmer will head back to Kelowna for some more CHL time before the puck drops in game 10. To me, although Bulmer's work ethic is indeed outstanding, he's still too raw for a full time NHL job. Bulmer would most likely benefit from being able to spend a season in Houston, but he obviously cannot do that until he's 21. Probobly the biggest reason why I don't believe Bulmer is here to stay is that he's still developing into his body and needs to seriously bulk up before being thrown into the grind of a full 82 game schedule. His skills could, but in my opinion shouldn't be, developed at the pro level. It's important to remember Bulmer was drafted as a bit of a project and project players require careful steps to maximize what the organization feel they should become. I see Bulmer playing all 9 games and heading back to the Rockets with a good sight picture of what the NHL is like and good expectations set for himself. Upon his departure, Cody Almond is the next prospect in line, but at that point it could be a crap shoot of who to call up. Well... he's proved me wrong once, if a second time, I promise to shut up about Brett Bulmer going to the CHL for the rest of the season.

Well there you have it folks. Sorry about the failure in terms of post timing... give me a break, I'm a rookie!

The opinions posted here are not those of Hockey Wilderness

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