Minnesota Wild Season Grades: Forward Corps

Not sure anyone needs to be told just how frustrating the Minnesota Wild offense can be. Pass first, shoot three minutes from now just doesn't cut it in the NHL, and this squad proved it yet again. Out shot so many times we stopped counting, it is not surprising they didn't make the playoffs. 

As the Great One said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Maybe it is best the Wild call Wayne Gretzky, or just have the forwards watch some film. Or buy a poster. Shoot. The. Puck. It works for so many teams, so many times a night, it is mind blowing to see it not even get attempted by the Wild. 

To add to it, the defensive forwards didn't do much better. All in all, a rough year. How rough? Make the jump.

GRADES

JS- GRADE: C- (Editor's note: JS goes on a little math rant here. Buckle up.)

As much as I'd like to say the forwards, as a whole, were good, there are too many things that make them horribly sub-par. First of all, the 2nd year of the ''new high-tempo, high-offense'' system yielded 11 goals LESS than it did last year. Of course Latendresse alone should've scored more than 11 in a full season, but this means pretty much no one, except Clutterbuck, truly stepped up their goal scoring a notch. The inability to outshoot the opponent night after night after night also hurt this team big time. You can score if you don't shoot, unless the opponent throws it in their own net, which isn't a reliable source of goals. They didn't help Backstrom and Theodore nearly enough as they had to keep the team in the game most nights for lack of scoring. What I'll do is take all of our evaluated players' grades, multiply them by the number of games they played and divide it by the number of players and then by the average number of games they played to give a fancy-pants mathematical grade for the forwards as a group.  

Clutter : 76  A = 304

Brodz : 80 B+ = 264

Koivu : 71 games B+  =  234,3

Havlat : 78 games  B  =  234

Madden : 76  B = 228

PMB : 59 A- = 218,3

Brunette : 82 C+  = 188,6

Cullen : 78  C = 156

Staubz: 71 C = 142

Nystrom: 82 C- = 139,4

Mittens : 73 D+ = 94,9

Kobasew: 63 D = 63

Sully: 21 C- = 35,7

Wellman: 15 C- = 25,5

Peters: 11 C- = 18,7

Lats: 11 D+ = 14,3

Average number of games: 59,1875

2360,7 / 16 / 59,1875 = 2,5 = B - - or C+ +

... However, AS A GROUP, they played 82 games, so I also did the same process, but using 82 games instead of the average number of games:  

Total =  2360,7 / 16 / 82 = 1,8 = C-

This actually feels more accurate. I feel the forwards as a group wasn't better than C- . It's hard to give more than that when you have one player break the 20 goal barrier and a whole lot of playmakers and grinders who just can't score, not that that's all their fault, but when someone needs to step up, they fail most of the time.   It's interesting to note that I put all the players in order of the number of Grade X games and I feel it gives a very good idea of who the best were for this team this year. I feel the order is pretty accurate. Also, Koivu and Havlat are uncannily close, which is funny since they both got 62 points this year.

From the Editor: Still with us? Good.  

Elise- GRADE: C- 26th in the league in goals for, not great at face-offs, no real sniper or finisher. The forwards had some good times and some bad times, as did the team, with little consistency. They weren't terrible, but they weren't great either, so right below average grade for them.

Bryan- GRADE: F Just like last year, the individual grades suggest a passing effort from the forward corps. Far from it. As a group they managed to score fewer goals than last year, which is a marvel in itself. The defensive side of the game also suffered as the defensive forwards simply did not do what they needed to secure the puck and clear the zone. While the offensive production will get the attention, the lack of lock down defensive play from those paid to stop the opposition is one of the major stories of this season's failure.

If the defensemen are going to be involved in the offense, the forwards, especially the checkers, need to be better. Much, much better. Shutting down the likes of the Sedins and Pavel Datsyuk is no simple task, but it sure would be nice to see them shut down the secondary scoring at the very least.

Oh, and shoot the damn puck, would you?

Nathan- GRADE: D Fewer goals scored than last year. Same goal differential. One 20-goal scorer. Two 50+ point scorers. No marked improvement in offense or defensive play from the forwards. 

Yet another season looking at the playoffs from the outside. The forwards can look in the mirror as to the biggest problem with this team.

Cumulative GPA: 1.13 D

Final Thought

The forward corps is the biggest area of need for this franchise, and has been for awhile. Only one true scorer has ever played for this team, and he is out east, disappearing in the playoffs for a new team. It's time to find a new one. Is that scorer already in the system? Will he come via trade? Via free agency? No one cares, as long as he shows up soon.

Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass... good things happen when the puck goes to the net. Basic, simple, pee-wee level hockey knowledge. Been ten years, no one shoots the puck. Arg. One player will not fix the problems. However, goals win games, so solving that would certainly help. The team has defensive depth, use it to find a guy who shoots. 

Last point: The Wild have only had one player break 200 SOG the past three seasons. What other streak is three seasons old? Coincidence? Doubtful.

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