With the approach of the season, you will see a multitude of season previews flying at you from every site covering the game, this one included (watch for it the week of 9/26). With as many times as we have done this, it should come as no surprise that more often than not, the previews are exceptionally wrong come the end of the season. It is an exercise in futility, and yet we do it anyway, because the readers like them.
However, sometimes a season preview is just so frustratingly bad that it has to be considered for discussion. The fact that the preview comes from our friends over at Puck Daddy gave me pause before writing this, but some things were simply so inaccurate that they cannot slip past without mention. I write this with all due respect to the writers, to Greg Wyshynski, and to the Puck Daddy blog itself, one of my favorite daily reads.
After the jump, we look at the season preview of the Minnesota Wild.
One of the big things people do with Puck Daddy is assign all writing to Wysh. Let's be clear, he did not write the post. Instead it was written by Harrison Mooney, the newest member of the PD team, and the co-editor of Pass it to Bulis, a Canucks blog that does some fantastic work (but is still a Canucks blog).
The preview starts out well enough, recapping the arrival of Dany Heatley and Mike Yeo, going over some of the basics at hand. Mooney mentions that the Wild were bad at everything, which is true, unless you count being outshot. They were really good at that.
It quickly goes off the rails, though, with this line:
But the Setoguchi trade required parting ways with Brent Burns, Minnesota's stalwart on the back end, and Burns was never replaced. As a result, the Wild are now the proud owners of the league's worst blueline.
The league's worst blue line? Cam Barker plays for the Oilers. THAT is the worst blue line in the league.The worst blue line in the league? I would really enjoy the justification for that claim. I don't like Brent Burns being gone any more than the next guy, and Burns is a world class talent and will be missed on the ice, but the league's worst blue line because of the departure of one player? I'm not buying it.
One of the youngest blue lines, maybe. Not a source for offense? Sure. But the worst blue line in the entire league? A group that returns five regulars from last season? A defensive corps that couldn't have been that bad since the Wild finished 28th in the league in scoring, and yet finished 20th in the league in the standings. The defense obviously did something right.
If we are talking the loss of a puck moving defenseman, let's be clear on one thing. Brent Burns struggled in that area. He is a great defenseman, but leading the rush was not his strongest area. Big, rangy, great offensive nose, All-Star of a defenseman. But puck moving? No.
And how exactly does a team go about replacing a Brent Burns type player? The Sharks gave up what amounts to three first round picks for him. Should the Wild have turned around and given up the same to "replace" him?
We could bog down in this all day. We'll move on.
The Wild likely won't miss Havlat and Brunette -- not with Heatley and Setoguchi coming in to replace them. Both should be improvements over their formers.
Barring injury, this isn't a place for an emphasized should. Heatley and Setoguchi are improvements over their formers. The loss of Bruno in the room will be tough, but Setoguchi is faster, younger, and quite frankly, better. Havlat... well... cutting out a cancer is never a bad idea.
Still, the Wild may find it just as difficult to score as last season, especially if the forwards have to facilitate all their own breakouts. Boy oh boy, is this team ever gonna miss Brent Burns.
There it is. I think Harrison needs to watch more Wild games and stop making assumptions. Marek Zidlicky is the best puck mover on the team, not Brent Burns. Are they going to miss him? Absolutely. Are they lost without him? Absolutely not.
Yeah, Burns out scored the rest of the blueline combined. Zidlicky also missed 36 games last season and had no business playing through an injured shoulder for most of the 46 he actually played. Jared Spurgeon was a revelation, and should grow even more into his role as a rush leading, puck moving defenseman.
The Wild also chose to let Antti Miettinen move on to the KHL, and John Madden, Jose Theodore, Chuck Kobasew and Cam Barker go to free agency.
Save for Theodore and Madden... good riddance. And both of them have been more than replaced.
Harrison then goes on to explain the top line of Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Setoguchi will be relied on due to... wait for it... a lack of offense behind them. He pays lip service to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and then goes off the rails again:
It would also help Cal Clutterbuck, who may be emerging as a second line winger. He finished with a career-high 19 goals last season, and a full year of skating with a playmaker like Bouchard could see him foray into 20-goal territory for the first time since he played for HPK Hameenlinna of the Finnish League in 2002-03.
Let me leave this to someone else.
Cal Clutterbuck isn't a second line winger, even on the Minnesota Wild. Now, granted, he is a fill in second line winger, but he is best served on the third line, in a checking role and adding a bit of offense where he can. He reached 19 goals on the third line last season. Is one more than that completely out of the question?
And why is Clutterbuck on Harrison's second line, anyway? Is Guillaume Latendresse injured already? And who does Harrison have centering this line? Bouchard? Man, I hope not. Matt Cullen is the second line center, with Kyle Brodziak challenging for the role.
Question added at Noon: When did Cal Clutterbuck play in Finland? Other than during the Premier Series last year, that would be never. (Thanks to those who brought that up, I forgot to.)
Wild fans love them some Cal Clutterbuck, but his role is to shutdown and intimidate. His offense is icing on the cake.
Moving on. Again.
At this point, Harrison moves on to talk about Nicklas Backstrom. Yes. Nicklas. With a C. In net for the Wild. Good thing, too, because with the offensive talent the Wild have added, it will be nice to add Nicklas' 65 points coming from the backstop position this season.
(Hint... the Nicklas with a C plays for the Capitals. C for Capitals)
Chuck Fletcher returns for his third year as Minnesota's general manager, and this team is now markedly different than when he arrived. But are they better? Goodness no. At some point, someone is bound to recognize this.
Nope. They aren't better at all. They off loaded a cement block from the blueline, a souvenir puck dispenser at forward, a personality cancer, and added two goal scoring forwards with a history of 30+ goal seasons. Oh, that's right, they lost Burns. Season over.
The Sharks are shoe ins for the Cup, now. Engrave it. Don't even play the games.
But wait! The section after that gives us a full detail of how Jared Spurgeon is going to have a breakout year. So... he's going to have a breakout year, insinuating he is going to have a fairly good season, but no way he can fill the role of Burns. Right?
While Dany Heatley's two 100-point seasons have everyone assuming he's going to be an upgrade on Martin Havlat, that may not be the case.
Please just go read THIS and we'll move on.
Wild fans should be concerned. It's very possible that San Jose won this trade.
We aren't. At all. But thank you for your concern.
If Marek Zidlicky or Mikko Koivu were to go down, the Wild would spent so much time in their own zone, the zambonis could go green and only clean one side of the ice.
Because Nick Schultz, Matt Cullen, and Kyle Brodziak are no longer on the team.
They'll suffer everywhere.Goal prevention will be a problem for this group, as Nicklas Backstrom has never had such underwhelming shutdown support in front of him.
Again... five of six starting defensemen are returning. Only one is gone. The shutdown guys are still here. The offensive guy left. That has nothing to do with shutdown anything. Yowza.
And the coup de gras:
Expect the Wild to finish at or near the bottom of the league.
Without a definition of "at or near" there is too much wiggle room here. I've got the Wild anywhere from 6 to 9 in the west, depending on injury luck. I certainly have them competing for a playoff spot should they stay healthy. Near the bottom of the league? Nah. I've already got $5 on a bet with someone who feels they finish below the Oilers.
We'll see where the Wild end up. Could be in dead last, but I'm not buying the justifications.
If you made it all the way down here, congrats. 1500 word is a lot to digest. The short version of this post is this - don't let a Canucks writer preview the Wild anywhere but on a Canucks blog. More importantly, don't let someone who doesn't pay any attention to the team write the preview. Or, at very least, give them access to a roster and a copy of the StarTribune to get the lines and players correct.
You do good work, Harrison. This... wasn't it.