Time to fire this back up. We have a good three weeks of data to use, so we'll get a baseline for the players and set our analysts on the task of giving each of these guys a grade. The data we use will be completely subjective, with strong bias given to gut feelings and instinct. In other words, don't put any actual money into the analysis given. If you would like to invest in any of the players listed after the jump, please send cash directly to us and we will invest it in beverages and dinner, because you obviously don't need it.
As with last year, each player will be one of the following ratings:
Strong Buy - Feel free to invest heavily with your fan dollars. This player will deliver every time.
Buy - Getting results, safe bet to invest your fandom in. Will disappoint rarely.
Hold - The results aren't there, but it isn't time to give up yet. Buying or selling equally acceptable.
Sell - Time to seriously consider your investment decision. Results consistently not there, and the trend is they will not be there.
Strong Sell - The lowest of rankings. Time to get out, and get out now, before your investment is totally worthless.
The analysis will change from week to week, and are not equal from player to player. This isn't your daddy's stock market. Invest wisely. Enjoy.
Mikko Koivu (KAPT) - The Kaptain has been spotty. In the first year of his big contract, and given true scoring forwards for the first time in his career, Koivu has just three points through eight games. He is the best defensive player on the squad, but the team needs both ends of the ice. The team goes how Koivu goes, and right now, he isn't going. As the team leader on the ice, he needs to find a way to get things going with his linemates, and to get this team churning for a full 60 minutes. It's tough to admit, but right now, the Kaptain is a bit disappointing. Rating: Hold
Dany Heatley (HETR) - Heatley is a conundrum. Is leading the team in points (2G, 3A) and slotting in at seventh in the league in SOG good enough for Wild fans? It should be, but might not be. Latendresse also has five points, and comes $5 million cheaper. We think the expectations for Heatley are higher than high, and it may be time to wait it out to maximize your fake investment. Once that top line starts to really click, Heatley is going to take off. The question is, will you buy in now, or later? Rating: Hold
Devin Setoguchi (GUCH) - Shooting the puck. That's what Setoguchi said he would do, and that's what he is doing. Twenty four shots on goal, good for 15th in the league, and three goals on the year get him some bonus points. He has similar stats to Heatley at less than half the price. If this were an objective, purely stats based analysis of the facts at hand, they should both get equal grades. Setoguchi is a better buy at this point. Rating: Buy
Niklas Backstrom (BAX) - As is the case year after year, Backstrom continues to just do his job. Quietly, efficiently. Made to look foolish in a shootout against Ottawa, Backstrom won two others against the Oilers, earning him some street cred with the analysts. A 2.20 GAA and .920 save percentage will do just fine. Now, if only the team would support a bit. Rating: Buy
Marek Zidlicky (ZHID) - Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde is getting really old. So many attacked his contract back when he was playing well, and now that his contract is reasonable, his play has gone so far down hill Jack and Jill are laughing. Good Zidlicky has yet to arrive for the 2011-12 season, and it is hurting the Wild big time. It was going to take a team effort to replace Brent Burns, and thus far, Zidlicky is not holding up his end of the bargain. Rating: Strong Sell
Matt Cullen (TWI) - Another great start for Cullen. Three goals, some sick moves in shootouts, and a +2 rating all give him some serious consideration. He isn't going to light the lamp 50 times, but he is consistent enough to consider investing in long term. He isn't flashy, but he is getting the job done. Rating: Buy
Guillaume Latendresse (BTE) - Lats is tied for the team lead in points, giving him some serious upward movement on the stock charts, but now he is hurt. The risk / reward here is skewing back toward risk, and stock analysts are notoriously risk averse. If he can stay healthy, he adds a clear advantage to the team. If not, he isn't worth the investment. Rating: Hold
Pierre-Marc Bouchard (BALD) - The return of Butch to his old form was something that the Wild needed if they are to be successful. Right now, he is too busy gooning it up to score points, I guess. The ridiculous suspension derailed him a bit, and he currently has just three points. He'll improve, to be sure, just so long as Latendresse and Cullen can stay in the lineup and keep producing. Rating: Buy
Nick Schultz (MO) - Not much to say here. If you buy in, your money is safe. If you don't, well, don't ask later. Schultz has been steady, as always, and leading the back end ever so quietly. He is always a safe buy, just so long as you don't expect the stock to go through the roof. Rating: Buy
Greg Zanon (BLK) -What does it take to get the human bruise off the ice? Apparently a sore groin. Zanon has struggled in the early goings, which is disappointing to say the least. Generally a safe investment, Zanon's time may be winding to an end if the mistakes and gaffs don't stop. It has gotten so bad, ZZ Top was broken up. Not cool. Another painful rating, but the trend is there. Rating: Sell
Kyle Brodziak (GLUE) -Doing exactly what he has been asked to do is the hallmark of Kyle Brodziak. This season, he has been asked to lead the forecheck, and play defensive hockey. Check and check. Brodziak may end up the victim of the numbers game, and could be worth a solid pick at the deadline if the Wild are out. I have yet to meet a Wild fan who wants that to happen. How this guy has been offered an extension yet is beyond me. Rating: Strong Buy
Cal Clutterbuck (HIT) - His game has been thrown off by the crackdown at the NHL, and by the "victim" of his hits deciding to turn their back on him at the last second. If I were him, I might just plow someone through the numbers if they turn their back at the last second, but it turns out, Clutterbuck isn't the guy so many opposition fans think he is. He is playing well, and will be just fine. Buy in now, so when he turns it on, you are on board. Rating: Buy
Darroll Powe (POW) - Flying under the radar, but doing well on the forecheck. Powe has broken up several breakouts, and is hitting hard and hitting often. You can't expect much from a guy in his role, and he is living up to the expectations. As long as he leaves his Philly days behind, he'll be fine. Rating: Hold
Josh Harding (BKUP) - Harding has played just one game, but what a game. If the team had played for the full 60 minutes, they could have beaten the Wings. Coach Yeo called it the worst game of the season for the system. We fully agree. Harding's stock is high. If only goaltending wasn't seen as expendable in the NHL, Harding could be a real stud for someone. Rating: Buy
Brett Bulmer (JR) - No way they can send this kid back, can they? He has been outstanding in his limited role. Irritating the opposition, putting up some points, and playing the system impeccably. He has nothing left to learn in Canada, and can't be sent to Houston. He has to stay, and he has to be allowed to thrive. He's a good one. Rating: Strong Buy
Marco Scandella (PZZA) - The best offensive d-man on the roster. He is pinching at the right times, committing very few mistakes, making the breakout seem seamless, and leading the rush more often than not. Sure, he has some slip-ups, but he is young, and he is nowhere near as bad as Zidlicky on any given night. He's a gem, and the time to buy is now. Rating: Strong Buy
Colton Gillies (MBDY) - Gillies had been very good thus far this year. Huge on the forecheck, huge defensively, it is clear his time in Houston did him some good. He may not ever live up to first round pedigree, but at this point, what he is is more than acceptable. If he keeps up what he is doing, he'll be around for awhile. There are a few vets that could learn a thing or two from the kid. Again, not going to light up the box score, but Wild fans should know to look for more. Rating: Strong Buy
Clayton Stoner (STDY) - Stoner is one of the best players on the roster right now, as scary as that might be. Few mistakes, quiet and steady defensively, and ready to go at anytime. His game is similar to Schultz's, and that is a huge compliment. If you are down on this guy, you aren't paying enough attention. Rating: Buy
Jared Spurgeon (TINY) - Not himself right now. Being pushed around by bigger, stronger NHLers, Spurgeon isn't a liability yet, but with the need for big years from everyone on the blue line, Spurgeon's start has not been comforting. We still think he will be fine, but right now, he just sin't showing anything. Rating: Hold
Justin Falk (FLKR) - Only one game played, but Falk looked good. It is unclear what type of player Falk is going to be, so it is difficult to judge if he is moving on the right path or not. Is he a big, body clearing, physical player? Is he an offensive, breakout guy? Is he a two way player? We need more data to properly judge, and with Zanon and Mike Lundin out, we may just get it. Rating: Hold
Nick Johnson (WAVE) - Claimed off waivers, Johnson impressed early and often. Then, the season started, and Johnson was sent to the press box. Inexplicably so, if you ask us. He knows the system better than anyone on the team, and plays it perfectly. Strong in every area a third liner needs to be, Johnson needs to be on the ice. What it is we aren't seeing behind the scenes that keeps him off the ice is unknown. That's the only risk here. Rating: Buy
Brad Staubitz (BTZY) - Taking up minutes he doesn't deserve. That's the consensus among the analysts here. Taking bad penalties, and not adding much in the way of protection, he needs to be off the ice in favor of Johnson until he can prove he can contribute more than seven minutes of taking bad calls and disadvantaging the Wild. Rating: Strong Sell
Matt Kassian (SHIN) - Not likely to see much TOI, Kassian is an oddity on the roster. A strong, tough forward that actually imposes a bit of fear in his opponents, yet he is unlikely to see the ice without some injuries or a trade. Brad Staubitz will see minutes before Kassian, and that's a shame. If the Wild want an enforcer on the roster, they have one. Now, if they would just use him. Rating: Hold
Wild Power Play (SUCC) - The Minnesota Wild Succubus® Power Play brought to you by Hoover™ has returned this season. 3 for 31, with little hope in sight, the power play has not only become something that hurts their offensive chances, it also makes it so the opposition is not afraid to commit a foul, knowing there will likely be no consequences for those actions. The best way to protect your star player is not with Brad Staubitz or Matt Kassian. The best way to protect your top players is to make them pay for taking that penalty on the score board. Rating: Strong Sell