It is a rite of passage at this point. A major sports outlet discusses the best of the NHL and either completely botches the facts about the Wild, or they simply pretend they don't exist. Craig Leipold wants to raise the profile of the team to get them into a Winter Classic type event. Judging by the season previews and other "coverage" of the Wild, he still has a long way to go.
Bodog has the team earning around 83 points, a number certain to keep them out of the playoffs. Most sites have them finishing outside the playoffs, many near the bottom of the league. None of this is good, and the sheer mass of negativity surrounding the team makes you start to wonder what the deal is.
Then, TSN puts out its "Top 50 NHL Players" list, and allows us to discuss how Sidney Crosby is still considered the number one player in the league, while a grand total of zero Minnesota Wild players make the list.
Make the jump and lets take a look at this list. Help us out. Who is too high? Too low? Not on the list but should be?The list is broken up into five pages, each page containing 10 players. We'll take this one page at a time.
The first page isn't bad, save for the ranking of Crosby ahead of the likes of Ale Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. This reeks of a sales pitch, using the NHL's poster boy as the top ranking player, despite missing half the season with injury, and no timetable of a return to the game. None of that is his fault, but when we are discussing value, who has more? Crosby and his now deep concussion problem, or Stamkos and Ovechkin with no real injury history to speak of and who were on the ice producing all season?
Page two is solid, even the Eric Staal at 17 pick. No, really, Stall is a great player, and deserves to be up there. A two way player who isn't afraid of the physical game, is a leader, and still puts up some solid offense? Sounds pretty valuable to me. Not sure I would rank him ahead of guys like Rick Nash, but its not my list.
On page three, the 21-30 best players in the league, we go off track. Anze Kopitar is the 21st best player in the league? Really? We are clearly taking into account the new additions to the team, and forgetting oh so many much better players. You know, like the guy at 22... Evgeni Malkin. Who you taking first in an expansion draft? Kopitar or Malkin?Page three is so messed up, it's like they started two teams, one at the top spot, and one at the last spot, and just met in the middle.
Moving on to the 31-40 page, we are met with... whoa... what the? Chris Pronger? The page may have been led with "The man who used to be Chris Pronger," but the current incarnation is a shell of his former self. Injuries, lack of production, and a lack of fear of his presence make Pronger at 31 a disappointment. Bobby Ryan comes in at 33? Yikes. I'm taking Ryan before some of the guys on page one, let alone Chris Pronger. Danny Briere makes the list? Why? Sixty eight points and an injury risk makes the list? I am officially confused. And Keith Yandle? That's a stretch to me, even as a Yandle fan.
The final page is led of with Roberto Luongo at 41. Great placement. Average goalie on a great team. It is tough to separate the two, but let's just say Lu isn't leading the Florida Panthers to the Cup Finals anytime soon. Some of the confusion on this page would be rooted in the fact that Marian Hossa makes the list. If Dany Heatley is off the list, why is Hossa still on it? Neither have shown the brilliance they have in the past, and Hossa is an injury risk. I'm thinking Jeff Skinner needs to be higher on this list as well. At least above, you know... Kopitar.
If my very fast count is right, 21 teams are represented on the list. That means TSN feels that multiple teams have so many players that are so good that a player like Mikko Koivu is worth leaving off the list.
Look, I get it. Dany Heatley had an "off" year. Devin Setoguchi has not claimed a spot as a truly elite player yet. There is no one in the forward or defensive ranks that deserve much convrsation beyond Heatley, Koivu, and Setoguchi. Niklas Backstrom hasn't had a good season recently, so I can see leaving him off. But how, in the name of everything that is good and right in this world is Mikko Koivu not on the list?
Eric Staal, Anze Kopitar, Chris Pronger, and Marian Hossa make the list, but Koivu doesn't? Given a choice among those five players, Koivu gets picked before all but maybe one of them, and Hossa only goes first if a Hawks fan is involved.
The Wild are not going to light up the world anytime soon. I get that, but how do you leave a guy universally included in the "best two way forward" conversation off the list?
I don't want to indulge in the "everyone hates the Wild" mentality. They can hate them all they want, they can pretend they don't exist at all. That's fine. But when putting together a list of the top 50 players in the league, and players who play the same game as Koivu, but not nearly as well, are included and he isn't? Someone messed up.
I need some of whatever the good Canadian stuff is there days.