The biggest story of any training camp is always "Who's going to make the team?"
This is even true when the answer is obvious. We all like to think that there's always an intense competition, that everyone is working to earn their way on to the roster (even when not everyone really has to). So, in the spirit of speculating and trying to find answers to this elusive question.
We're going to break down the final roster hopefuls by position, starting with the goaltenders. This picture has really cleared up in the last week or so, with Josh Harding breaking his foot and the signing of Darcy Kuemper, but there's still a bit of room for intrigue, here. Let's get to it!
Note: These odds (which all assume health) are very scientific, and they were created from algorithms that were derived from the trigonometry of my gut feelings. I used cosines and everything, don't dispute me!
Pros: Darcy Kuemper is 24, and saved Mike Yeo's season with his excellent play in January and February. He was in the Top-10 in goalies in Even-Strength Save%, and even though that may regress, it's still very encouraging. He's proved himself as a legitimate goaltending prospect at every stop he's been at, and he's earned a chance to see if he can be a starting goaltender for an NHL team. He even has playoff experience now, where he was very good until a concussion derailed him.
Cons: [sarcasm]He's a total me-first guy who held out all summer for an absurd contract and a one-way deal instead of taking what the Wild initially offered and who risked the Wild's season by playing with a concussion, even though literally every player with a concussion (misguidedly) initially tries to play through it.[/sarcasm] Really, the only real flaw with Kuemper is experience, he only has 40 NHL games under his belt, and that's if you count playoffs. But like with any 24-year-old in the real world, the only way they'll get experience is if someone gives them experience. He's done all he can, it's his turn to get a shot.
Odds He'll Make The Roster: 100% He's on a one-way deal, and the Wild won't put him in the AHL now that Harding is out of the picture.
What His Odds Should Be: 100%. The Wild need to see what they have in him, and there's not really much of a chance that he's out-performed by other options to a degree that forces him off the roster.
Pros: Niklas Backstrom is healthy now, which raises the likelihood of him not being abysmal like he was last season. He's shown that he can handle a share of the workload, if needed, even if he did falter a bit down the stretch while starting every game ever in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Backstrom has been a serviceable (if overpaid) goalie for the Wild for years, and he could easily do fine as a back-up who can start ~30 games.
Cons: Did I mention that Backy was abysmal last season? Because he was. He had a sub-.900 save percentage. If Ondrej Pavelec and a 90-year-old Martin Brodeur are going "Well, I sucked last year, but at least I was better than that guy", that's not good. He's 36, which means that you're going to fear his injuries from last season flaring up again. He's done starting 50, 60, 70 games, so if Kuemper goes down, there's a problem.
Odds He'll Make The Roster: 100%. If Backstrom was going to be traded, it would have happened by now. The remaining two years on his deal ensures his spot on the roster.
What His Odds Should Be: 55%. His experience in and familiarity in the Wild organization give him an edge, for me, but in a perfect world, he'd have to earn his roster spot, and continue to show he's healthy again.
Pros: Bryzgalov was acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline, and was a lot better than anyone gives him credit for last season. After a rocky first game against the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, he was really let down by the Wild's lack of offense, ruining what was actually a really good effort for him (.922 Sv% in Games 2-6). He's easily the most fun player to follow in the league, as willingness to troll the media with his eccentricity is a blast. He was part of the leadership in the Team Meeting in Phoenix that the narrative says saved the season, though we gotta imagine he was the Flavor Flav to Mikko Koivu's Chuck D.
Cons: Bryzgalov was coming off a two-season stretch with Philadelphia that was so bad that you still have to be leery of Bryz, even after a 40 game sample where he did fine. He's not as old as Backstrom, but 34 is still getting up there. You probably aren't that confident in the fact that he hasn't skated since the Wild's season ended.
Odds He'll Make The Roster: 10%. The Wild could choose to carry him as a third goalie if they aren't confident in Kuemper or Backstrom, but that seems to be a last resort. With the Wild having two one-way contracts in the NHL, Bryz is likely trying out for the benefit of the Iowa Wild, or other teams.
What His Odds Should Be: 45%. I wish he could give Backstrom actual competition, and then pick whichever of the two you felt better with, but the contract situation of Backstrom and Bryz (He's only a PTO- player try-out) doesn't warrant that.
Pros: John Curry is a goalie with a little bit of NHL experience, who played well in a very tiny sample for the Wild last year.
Cons: John Curry is a 30-year-old who should only be used as an emergency option. As Johan Gustafsson's back-up, he's a fine AHL depth, but if you're judging him off his performance against the Blues last season, you're misguided. He's not a prospect.
Odds He'll Make The Roster: 0%. Bryz is ahead of him in line, and he doesn't have much to justify starting over anyone above him.
What His Odds Should Be: 0%. But you already knew that.
Odds He'll Make The Alaska Aces (ECHL) Roster: 0%, unless Bryz takes an AHL deal with Iowa, and then that jumps to about 75%.
Pros: For the most part, they're not Martin Brodeur.
Cons: They're inexperienced, with limited performance at even the AHL level. Except for Martin Brodeur, who shouldn't even be mentioned by anyone, ever, for the rest of time. I'd rather have Patrick Roy at this point.
Odds They'll Make The Roster: 0%. If they do make the roster, everything else has gone wrong.
What Their Odds Should Be: 0%. If any of them make the roster, especially Martin Brodeur, I'm jumping off something tall.