Forgot to change the opening paragraph. Sorry all. Kids these days and all that.
This week has been much better than last. The team is playing well, listening to the coach, and getting results. While the team as a whole is playing well, there are always some stars, and some disappointments. The Wild are no different. Certain players have stepped up, mostly the young guys, while some players have taken clear steps backwards.
Over a month in, we have some disturbing trends among the people the Wild were to count on, and some magnificent trends from those who were not expected to be ready. Enjoy this while it lasts, folks. It could be all season, or it could come to a crashing halt at any time.
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.
Note: The analysis will change from week to week, and are not equal from player to player. It's just our thing.
Mikko Koivu (KAPT) - Defensively he is one of the best in the game. Offensively, he has yet to find his groove with Heatley, and his other wing is being changed out more often than Kim Kardashian's husbands. He is still putting up points, and he is getting done the job Mike Yeo wants him to get done, so it's time to buy on the Kaptain. Rating: Buy
Dany Heatley (HETR) - Still scoring when it counts, Heatley may be flying under what fans expected of him, but he is performing well, and the line is being checked hard every game. It's tough to say the guy isn't performing when he keeps putting up points, and yes, playing solid defense. Fans want more, but the analysts say he is paying off. Rating: Buy
Devin Setoguchi (GUCH) - Eight points (4G, 4A) is good enough from him to warrant some buy in at this point. The team is performing well, and Setoguchi is scoring where ever Mike Yeo puts him. He is shooting at will, and eventually that has to count for something. Rating: Buy.
Niklas Backstrom (BAX) - Backstrom has all but lost his #1 status as the Wild's top goalie. Josh Harding took the reigns and doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon. Backstrom will get back in, but he better bring his top level game or his spot will be as the most expensive backup in the league. Rating: Hold
Marek Zidlicky (ZHID) - Mike Yeo had a long talk with Mr. Zidlicky and #3 responded with a career high +4. The problem? In a 5-1 game, he had just one point. While one point is good most nights, in a thrashing of a division rival, you have to be comfortable knowing your top d-man is going to help out. The truth is the top d-man did, but Zidlicky isn't the top d-man. Rating: Sell
Matt Cullen (TWI) - We knock him down a bit, he responds with two goals against the Canucks. We're tempted to list him as a "strong sell" just to see what else could happen. Instead he moves back up. It might not be every night, but Cullen is scoring, and he playing the best hockey we've seen from him in years. Rating: Buy
Guillaume Latendresse (BTE) - With Benoit Pouliot a near every night scratch in Boston, and Latendresse finding some scoring touch again, we are comfortable calling him BTE once again. It is a tenuous nature, that label, but right now, he has earned it. Buy comfortably. Rating: Buy
Pierre-Marc Bouchard (BALD) - Game winning goal against the Nucks, along with two assists. Eight points through 12 is about what you should expect from Bouchard. Anything above this is icing on the cake. Remember, he's good for about 60 points a year. He is on pace for about 55 right now. Buy in if you please, or hold. Rating: Hold
Nick Schultz (MO) - The go to guy when the fecal matter is about to hit the fan, Schultz is the only vet on the blue line still doing his job. Quietly, efficiently. We're always comfortable buying on Schultz, just don't expect any huge jumps. Rating: Buy
Greg Zanon (BLK) - Still injured, no time table, and not even skating. That's not good. Stoner is working his way back, Nate Prosser is playing well... Zanon could be the odd man out. Tough to say, but injuries can do that, especially when the youth is doing what the coach wants and winning games. Rating: Sell
Kyle Brodziak (GLUE) - If you haven't bought in yet, you're behind the curve. Watch him and his line every night. Consistently the best players on the ice. The Wild need to get him locked up. Soon. Rating: Strong Buy
Cal Clutterbuck (HIT) - Moved back into his comfort zone, he is back to doing what he does best, annoying the pants off of the opposition. Any time you can draw two players into taking misconduct penalties on the same "play," you're doing your job as a pest. Still has one of the best shots on the team, too. Need to see it more. Rating: Buy
Darroll Powe (POW) - Has been better, but still not ready to issue a buy on him. Hold off just a bit longer. Call us crazy, but fourth liners can do more. Rating: Hold
Josh Harding (BKUP) - Four starts in a row? Three GA in four games? Yeah. We're completely on board here. Buy at will. Rating: Strong Buy
Marco Scandella (PZZA) - We're ready to call it. Scandella is the best all around d-man on this team. He is strong defensively, is chipping in some offense, and is working on leading the rush. If you think this kid is going back to Houston, you're nuts. Welcome to the NHL, kid. Rating: Strong Buy
Colton Gillies (MBDY) - Still playing his game, still outplaying many vets on the team. Would have loved to see him as a player if he had been developed properly the first time through. Now? Just as good, just a little late. Rating: Strong Buy
Clayton Stoner (STDY) - Coming back from a hand injury, until something changes, Yeo isn't going to swtich things up. It's good to know, however, that Stoner is waiting in the wings to come back. Prosser can play a couple more, head back with some confidence, and Stoner can step right back in. Rating: Hold.
Jared Spurgeon (TINY) - Playing much better, but still needs a few more games before we're ready to issue the buy rating on him. The slow start was just too slow, and now he has to prove he deserves it again. Don't sell, but buy at your own risk. Rating: Hold
Justin Falk (FLKR) - The reason why Greg Zanon may not get to come back. Falk is out playing even Nick Schultz right now. Big, strong presence, using his size, making his case to stick around. Unless he makes some giant gaffes, Zanon won't be missed. Rating: Buy
Nick Johnson (WAVE) - Working his tail off, Johnson should probably have more goals than he does right now. He is the new Eric Nystrom, only he certainly seems to be faster and better than Nystrom. We're comfortable with him as a buy. Would love to see him hit the back of the net a few more times, even if that isn't really why he is here. Rating: Buy
Nate Prosser (STIF) - Called up to replace Stoner, Prosser is playing well. He isn't going to light up the world, and he is still very young, but he certainly doesn't look out of place, which is a huge compliment. Not ready to issue a rating just yet, so just hold on him for a few more games. Rating: Hold
Brad Staubitz (BTZY) - Still not sure how he gets to play and Bulmer goes back to junior. He may be a bit better this last week, but we're unconvinced of his value. He has fallen so far, it might take a ladder strapped to a rocket ship to get out of this hole.. Rating: Strong Sell
Wild Power Play (SUCC) - Meh. Improving, but still not great. Should be much better with the talent out there. We're seling this all day. Who wants it? Rating: Strong Sell
Matt Kassian (SHIN) - Sent back to Houston, Kassian will actually get to play now. We're still not sure why he was still here, to be honest. Go back, beat some people, Kass. You're welcome back anytime you can actually come to play. Rating: Hold
Brett Bulmer (JR) - Sent back to play against children, we're not sure what Chuck Fletcher was thinking here, but it is what it is. We're keeping the kid as a strong buy. Can't wait to see him back. Rating: Strong Buy