We don't do much prognosticating here at Hockey Wilderness. Mostly because it tends to just make us look even more stupid than we already look most of the time. The other reason? Because we generally forget to make predictions until it is too late. Also, because we can't find two sets of people that agree if stats are predictive or not, so we just leave it for the people who have seen the replay.
Still, for the past two years, the good folks at the SBNation fantasy hockey site, The Scouts, have asked me to participate in their "Blogger's Breakouts" series. Last year, for the Wild I chose the big breakout year to belong to Guillaume Latendresse. Yeah, Latendresse played 11 games. Total. My back up pick last year? Matt Cullen, who had one of the worst point production seasons of his career.
Turns out, I have a history of this type of curse. Make the jump for those details, and a check up on the predictions I made this year.
History of the Curse
I am not a big jersey guy. I tend to have a great number of things on the list of things I need to buy (or likely fix), so dropping $100-300 on a shirt is not normally the top priority. Still, I have plunked down the cash on a few rare occasions.
- I bought a Mario Lemieux sweater in late 1992. I was young, saved up the needed funds, and searched high and low for a reputable dealer. Yes, kids, the web was not around then, so it made things like this difficult. As you may know, in early 1993, Lemieux announced he had cancer.
- When the Stars left for Dallas, I wrote them off. Dead to me. Norm sucks. I became a... shudder... Avalanche fan. I was given a Patrick Roy sweater, and later purchased one of my own. Home and away all covered. As soon as I had completed the set, Roy was arrested for domestic assault. No worries, though, the Wild were here to save me.
- I am not a baseball fan. At all. Still, the slider Francisco Liriano showed in his rookie year was so sick I had to show some support for the kid. He blew his arm out a week after I bought the jersey.
- I was given an Andrew Brunette jersey for my birthday in March of 2004.
- I chose a Brian Rolston sweater when I later became a season ticket holder for a couple years. I got that sweater in March of 2008.
It's sick, really.
My Current Curse
This year, I even tried to humor my way out of the curse, admitting fully I was a jinx. It didn't work. Even apologizing for choosing Latendresse as my breakout pick did not correct my hockey karma. Here are my predictions from earlier this year:
As much as I want to go with Latendresse again, just for the humor and irony of that selection, and the fact that it is a contract year for him, I am going with Devin Setoguchi. The Wild have long needed players like Setoguchi, and GM Chuck Fletcher went out and got them. He told media and fans that "he gets the puck, he shoots the puck," which, if he winds up on a line with Mikko Koivu, could be very good for Setoguchi's numbers. I often hear things like "he was on a line with Joe Thronton, and didn't capitalize, why will he now?" The simple answer is this: because Koivu will find Setoguchi, just like he found Antti Miettinen. The difference is that Setoguchi will bury the chance, while Miettinen enjoyed playing a good game of "give a souvenir puck to the kid in the upper deck."
Thirteen points, a -7, and he has played a game since December 6th. The curse continues. My bad. Apparently I must have punched babies in a former life or something. Anyone have a player they want to miss significant time in the 2012-13 campaign? I'm taking bids.
Second prediction was a "dark horse" candidate on the Wild to break out. Here is what I went with:
Pierre-Marc Bouchard has always been over looked. Hell, the Wild & NHL websites still list him as a center, despite the fact that I have never seen him skate a single shift at the position. He can be frustrating at times as he skates into the zone and spins away from the defenders, often times leaving himself open to have his pocket picked. At the same time, his moves are flat out dazzling, and defenders are terrified to over commit for fear he'll make the sick pass and make them look stupid.
Twenty-two points in 39 games played, on pace for 46 points. Not bad, but certainly not breakout numbers. Plus, he got a busted nose due to an unpunished dirty hit from behind. Yeah, this one's on me, too.
Then I went on to pick Taylor Hall as the league wide breakout player. He has 24 points. Of course, he has only played in 29, so maybe I have a chance here. Not that anyone would celebrate that particular victory with me.
Next up, I was asked to pick the Wild player I thought would breakdown. My answer?
With the departure of Brent Burns, the onus of being the top offensive type on the blue line falls to Marek Zidlicky. He is a 40+ point defenseman to be sure, but his injuries last year, his age creeping up, and the pressure to perform will all lead to the inevitable Minnesota sports conclusion of epic failure. We don't even have the benefit of a contract year to bolster the issue. Zidlicky is prime for a fall off in points, and with the young defensive corps, is not going to see much help. I wouldn't avoid him like the plague, but I hear the guys coming to pick him up.
Cue high pitched voice: Nailed it. Nine points in 27 games. That puts him on pace for 27 points for the year. Huge numbers that would, in his career, best only last year. When he skated in only 46 games.
The next two questions were pretty easy. How does the Wild's goaltending situation shape up? I said Backstrom is a game changer. He is. I win. Then I was asked to pick the top fantasy hockey player in the Wild's prospects. Is there another option than Mikael Granlund? If there is, I didn't go with it.
Finally, I was asked to determine just who, with the loss of Burns, and assuming Zidlicky would be there, would play the point on the power play.
Jared Spurgeon will be on the team out of camp. From what coach Mike Yeo told Mike Russo of the Minneapolis StarTribune recently, it sounds like the plan is to have Scandella start in Houston and play top pairing minutes rather than being a bottom pairing guy in St. Paul. Nate Prosser is close, but behind guys like Justin Falk and Scandella. So to answer the question, rather than give you a run down of the defensive prospects of the Minnesota Wild, Jared Spurgeon will see some second PP squad minutes on the point. He has the shot, he has the vision, and he has the ability to make the play. It likely isn't a 20 goal, 30 assist season for Spurgeon, but he should be in the 25-30 point range by the end of the year.
Keep in mind this was in September. Early September, so Scandella's jump to the big time had not happened yet. Prosser is up, after Falk and Scandella claimed their spots. Last I checked, Spurgeon was taking time on the power play point. He has 15 points, putting him on pace for about... 30.
I certainly am still cursed. Any player I pick to do well is either injured or leaves town. I have twice predicted, if only by accident, the player most likely to be injured and miss significant time. I'm not proud of this. Yet, I still have a fairly strong prediction record going for this season. Maybe I can become a millionaire like my stat friends soon.
Any predictions for the remainder of the year, Wilderness? List them below, and you can be wrong, just like me.