As we continue our summer school courses, we shift our attention to the forwards, and specifically, the Left Wings. Just so everyone is on the same page, we used the positions that NHL.com, and Wild.com list the players under.
Make the jump, and let's continue our look back at the year that was.
#15 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild
Aug 24, 1973
|2009 - Andrew Brunette||82||25||36||61||-5||12||12||0||3||0||129||19.4|
Yes, Andrew Brunette was amongst the team leaders in goals and points, and played on the top line. However, on how many other teams would a 36 year old garbage goal getter and power play specialist play on the top line? No, that's not a knock against Bruno, but rather an indication of the lack of top flight offensive talent on the roster. Yeah, Bruno outplayed expectations, and again showed why Risebrough was a moron for not keeping him here, but 61 points isn't enough for a first line guy on a top team.
Buddha: B Get it? B, for Brunette? No? Oh, OK. Bruno gets a B because he seems to be one of only a handful of guys that plays every night. It is not very often you hear someone calling out Brunette for not playing the game, for not trying hard enough. Despite that fact, he is always one of the first to say he did not give enough that night. The guy is one of the heart and soul of the team. This is evident by the fact that even in the advanced stages of the end of his career, he is still skating on the top line of an NHL squad.
Side note: I think Bruno wants out of Minnesota. I think you see him get dealt at the deadline when (not if) the Wild are barely hanging on to hope that they will make a long playoff run.
JS: Grade: B+ Still the same warrior he's always been, broke the 100 goal mark as a Wild player. Hasn't showed much signs of slowing down, had a really good season.
#48 / Right Wing / Minnesota Wild
May 24, 1987
|2009 - Guillaume Latendresse||78||27||13||40||-3||16||7||0||4||0||160||16.9|
Nathan: B+ with Minnesota, C overall
If we take a look at Latendresse's stats with the Wild alone, he's at 56 games, 25 goals, 12 assists for 37 points. Still not top flight numbers, but definitely what you want from a second line guy. There is much room for improvement in consistency, as he had streaks of seven and five games with no points, but he's only 22 years old. The kid showed that he can live up to the expectations of a 40 goal, 80+ point guy. He just needs the linemates. He is the prototypical power forward this team has sorely lacked. I can't wait to see him locked in.
Buddha: A+ BTE gets a rare A+ grade from me. Regardless of the fact that this guy came in after being traded for one of the worst failures in team history, the kid can flat out play. He was a scoring machine to finish out the year, elevated the game of Martin Havlat, and given a solid center for the line, will score 40 goals next season. Yes, I said it. 40. Lats is by far the best scorer on the team, and the only thing holding him back is the fact that his line mates continually gave up on the play. He is big, he plays physical, and he scores goals. How in the heck do you give the guy anything but the highest grade possible?
JS: A No one expected anything more than maybe 10 goals out of this guy, but he quickly became a fan favourite and leading goal scorer for the Wild. One of the few players that consistently gave 100% and he made hits, shots and plays.
#38 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild
Jun 02, 1985
Robbie Earl did everything the team asked of him when he was brought up. He came in, played the grinder/energy line role, potted a few goals and set himself for a decent contract somewhere else next season. It's too bad, I'd like to see what he could get with a full season as a fourth liner here.
Buddha: C Earl is another example of a guy who did his job, and not much else. He did not exceed expectations, he did not shine with a light never seen before. He was a great call up, probably the best call up of the year. However, he did not make a name for himself, and I don't see that he secured himself a spot on an NHL team. He is a Rule VI UFA on July 1st, and if I were betting with your money I would not bet that he is wearing a Wild jersey next season. He is a solid checking line winger, one of 400 or so guys that can play the position. Nothing against Earl, he just did not impress.
JS: B- Good call-up, had a couple of key goals for us, showed good energy and speed.
#24 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild
Jun 23, 1982
He can't score even with multiple opportunities. Nobody fights him, he's starting to take more penalties than he draws and is such a liability in a defensive game, that he sees limited time. Dan Carcillo can score. Steve Ott can score. Sean Avery can score. These are the new "enforcers" in Colin Campbell's NHL.
Sorry Boogey, but I think your time here is done.
Buddha: C Now, this is a difficult player to grade. DO you give him an F based on the fact that he plays around four minutes a game and hasn't scored since the Carter administration? Or do you grade him on his physical play and ability to knock out an opponent in one punch? The question you have to ask, is what is his role on the team? He is the enforcer. He is only expected to play four minutes a game. Like it or not, the coach wants him on the bench, so he's on the bench. He did his job, and he did it well. He gets an A+ as an enforcer, and an F as a hockey player. Averaged out, it's a C. Couple that with the fact that he did exactly what he was asked to do, and nothing more, he gets a C.
JS: C- He's still the king of the heavyweights, but he didn't scrap as often as we would've liked him to, probably because people are scared shit-less of him. Took way too many penalties, but a lot of them seemed to be reputation calls. He had flashes of good offense, almost scored like a bazillion times.
Still not enough scoring from a position of offensive power. Left wing should be where you see goals. These guys don't score enough to earn starting time on other rosters. In fact, only two guys listed as true left wingers get enough playing time to really matter. The problem is not necessarily with the guys, but the makeup of the roster. This franchise needs to add two very solid left wingers in the offseason.
Buddha: D How in the world do I give out two C's, a B, and an A+ and then give the group a D? Well, you see, this is a team game, and they did not play as a team. They struggled with the system and did not score enough goals to win. The defense from the forwards was nearly non-existent, and they simply did not play well enough to earn better than a D. Sure, individual efforts were solid, even extraordinary in some cases. However, when you take the parts and make them a whole, the equation changes. There is no way any group of forwards deserve to be told they did their job, even in an average manner. The forwards, as a group, were below average.
JS: B For some reason, good left wings are harder to find then good right wings. I think we've got solid left wingers who have a bit of everything: A good grinding forward (Bruno), a power forward that can score about 35 goals over a regular season (Lats, let's hope he stays that way), a good energy winger (Earl) and a scrapper (Boogs, although he may be leaving)