As the week wraps up, your Wilderness editors bring you the last of our grades for the forwards. The staff will be post their grades for the RWs later today as well.
Bryan- Clearly the greatest right wing ever to play the game, Setoguchi is without fault, and has absolutely no negatives to mention whatsoever. The Wild should violate the CBA and renegotiate Setoguchi's contract right now and give him the maximum contract. If they have to trade Niklas Backstrom and Mikko Koivu to do it, so be it. There just is absolutely no way they can let Setoguchi go another day without paying him more than Sidney Crosby.* Grade: A++++*
Dan- Last season, if he wasn't scoring, he was pretty much useless. This season, he introduced a gritty side to his game and it has paid huge dividends. Not only does he hit and forechecks hard now, his new found skills have also helped his offensive production as now he can start creating his own chances rather than just rely on a playmaking linemate. (Dan forgot to give him a actual grade)
Emilie- Setoguchi's grade is really tough (I actually left his for last). As far as scoring goes, He was 2nd on the team for goals scored (although the beginning of the season was horrible for him) 5th for assists and 4th for overall points. But I can't help but think that Seto is better than what his stats are saying. Parise had almost twice as many shots as Seto did. Seto picked up his physical game a lot this season, and it suited him very well. If he continues to improve on that area of his game (as well as improving his goal scoring), he has a real threat to be handful for every single team that plays against him. I still feel like Seto can play much better than he did throughout the season, so that knocks his grade just a bit. B-
JS- He's kind of hard to grade as well. Sure, he found a physical side to his game, had a good offensive season and was generally working hard on the ice, but he mostly rode Matt Cullen's coattails. He proved himself to be utterly useless without Cullen and he really just had a good mid-season. What happens if Cullen isn't re-signed? Will Setoguchi disappear into nothingness? Could he find chemistry with Jason Pominville? Was it just a strange year? Well, based off what we've seen of him before, I'm kind of scared. It's like he became only slightly better than Cal Clutterbuck was supposed to be. Grade: C+
Bryan- Clutterbuck's hitting has become predictable, his irritation of other players subdued, and his agitation lessened. Maybe it was the short season, maybe it was something else, but Clutterbuck just did not seem as effective as he has been in the past. Usually players up their game in a contract year, but Clutterbuck seemed to lose a step somewhere. It's difficult to place it exactly, but something was missing. Grade: C
Dan- What happened? Clutterbuck seems to be a neutered version of himself. He still skates hard and forechecks with energy, but gone are the days where he delivers devasting hits that agitate the bejusus out of opponents. He has turned from the perfect third line forward to just a good third. C
Emilie- Cal had a rough year. He was all but invisible on the scoreboard, and even his trademark high hit count was pretty low (Setoguchi often end the game with more hits than Cal). For the firsts half of the season, it seemed like Cal's heart wasn't in the game, and while it got better as time went on I can't help but think how much better the team would have been if he had preformed to the level he played last season. He's made himself pretty expendable and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if he is traded in the offseason. C-
JS- Speaking of Clutterbuck, where the hell was he this season? Seriously, I barely noticed him. Sure, he still led the team in hits, but he also posted the worst point per game average since his rookie season, and that's mostly thanks to his ghastly 4.3% shooting percentage, 3rd worst among regular team forwards, surpassing only noted snipers Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka. The last three seasons, he maintained a shooting percentage close to 10%. Shooting at 10% would have added about 4 goals, which would have been closer to his average. He played well in the playoffs though, which is good. Can't have too many good playoff performers. That being said, lackluster season overall. He can do much more. Grade: C
Bryan- I'm not sure anyone expected Coyle to jump to the big team this season, let alone jump up and take the top line right wing position. He has the makings of a real threat, and showed real skill. No one will ever forget "The shift," making his place in Wild lore set already. He needs to finish a bit more often, and truly find his role in front of the net, but he is a damn fine hockey player, and will be a very good player for a very long time. How this kid barely even got a sniff on the power play is beyond me, but I guess it leaves something to look forward to next year. Grade: A
Dan- Coyle was good for a rookie but just isn't good enough to play on the first line in my opinion. Great kid, probably has a future with the Parise-Koivu duo but now just isn't the time. Sorry. B-
Emilie- No one expected Coyle to play as well as he did this year, and anyone who says they did is a big old liar. After watching him in Houston, I knew he had the talent, but he was still hesitant, like something was holding him back. I figured it would take him this season, and maybe into next season before he was ready to show the world what he's made of. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my life.
His first stint up was a little rough, but he went back to Houston and focused on exactly what the coaches and his line mates had told him to work on. When he was called back up for the second time, he showed that he earned his spot on the first line. He's nearly impossible to knock off the puck, and he will battle the best of them at the boards and come out on top more times than not. He still had some rookie mistakes, but overall the kid looked great. I'd like to take the shift out of a date, and maybe marry it if that's possible. B+
JS- Loved his play this season. He deserves an A just for ''The shift'' against the Canucks. His point production wasn't where a first line player's should be, but he only played 5-on-5 with pretty limited power play time. I love that he got penalty kill time, as it shows potential and versatility. There were some clear growing pains though; he fought the puck a lot, didn't always make the best choices and seemed hesitant at times. All normal parts of being a rookie. This kid will be good. His play along the boards is nothing short of beastly and it often takes two players to take him down, which gave more space to Koivu and Parise. He's the power forward we had during Guillaume Latendresse's prime. The question now though is ''Is he a first line player?'' I'd have to say no for now. Later? Who knows. We'll see what he does with his sophomore campaign. Grade: B
Bryan- Not much to go on here. If not for a disgusting Dustin Brown elbow, we may have more to work with here. Right now, it feels unfair to assess him. Grade: I
Dan- You rarely notice him but he gets the job done. I am still unsure if he was worth the price but he makes the Wild alot more dangerous. He wasn't around for long so its hard to give him a fair grade. B
Emilie- A lot of people like to knock Pominville because of who was involved in his trade. Anyone who actually watched the Aeros this season will tell you that although it stings a bit to lose Johan Larsson, neither him nor Matt Hackett were pieces that haven't or can't be replaced.
Pominville joined the team and did exactly what was asked of him. He started scoring goals (would have been nice to have more scored), and made the first 3 lines solid scoring threats that kept opponents on their toes. If Dustin Brown hadn't decided to show the world how dirty he can play (Like there was really any question), the playoffs would have had a completely different look. I'm excited to see what Pominville can do with a full season on this team. B+
JS- Kind of hard for me to grade him fairly since I missed about half the games he played with the Wild, but I know that he may have saved the Wild's season by scoring about a point per game when no one else was scoring. It's a shame the usual iron-man had to take an elbow to the face at the end of the season. I'm excited to see what he can do in a full season, but I'm wondering where he'll play. Could Yeo really keep this guy on the third line? Sure, it's basically a label, but it seems kind of wasteful. Then again, he'd be a good two-way complement to Brodziak and Clutterbuck, who play some tough minutes. His production would take a hit, but it would certainly alleviate Brodziak's load. Anyhoo, he was great, but it's a shame he didn't stick with the first line. The chances were there, but Parise and Koivu were both in a funk. Maybe they'll try again next season. Grade: B+
Bryan- The speed we were told about was not a myth. Mitchell is one of the fastest, if not the fastest player on the team. The forecheck Mitchell can create is impossible to believe if you do not see it with your own eyes. Yes, he's still a 3rd / 4th line guy, but if you were to give this guy the hands of Parise, he would be a super star. He's good, and the Wild made a huge impact to their team in signing him. Grade: B+
Dan- An underappreciated star player for the Wild. What made our fourth line so good half way around the season was its speed and tenacious forecheck, large thanks to Mitchell's game. He isn't going to score too often but he's going to cause some create some havoc on crucial minutes that need to be killed. B+
Emilie- Mitchell was the catalyst of the 4th line this season. His speed is remarkable, and there were so many times I actually felt bad for him because he was stuck with guys who, for the most part, aren't the fastest or greatest play makers. He played very well when he had another skill player on his line. I am hoping that he gets bumped up to 3rd line next season and can continue having success with skilled guys. B
JS- Clear improvement over many of the 4th line players the Wild have had in the past. I think he should have been the third liner instead of Clutterbuck this year, but he made the 4th line a playable one and had some chemistry with Rough and Stumble. (Guess which one Stumble is. I'll give you a hint: He has an overhyped pet rabbit and his name rhymes with Bonopka). He did have a slow start, but like all new players to the team, he didn't have time to adapt to his new environment without a pre-season, all thanks to Bettman and the Bad News Fehr. I can't overstate how great it was to have a 4th line Yeo could actually rely on once in a while. As far as 4th liners go, I can't really fault him on much. I liked him. Grade: B
* Just checking to see if you are all alive.