We've seen a lot of folks lately writing their takes on the Wild tanking the season in an effort to improve the odds of drafting Jonnor McEichel. It's the sort of talk that comes with a burden, in that it likely means Mike Yeo loses his job and this being Minnesota, has a huge probability of back firing. Leaving us somewhere in the middle of the pack in draft position. This sort of drafterbation comes with a fantasy that is simply nothing more than that, a fantasy.
Look kiddos, there is hardly a chance this squad drops far enough down the standings to to catch the Edmonton's of the world. You've seen the odds of the Wild making the playoffs lately, right? (5.5% as of this publishing) Well the chances of finding the way to the cellar are even worse. There is no real way around it this time. We're bad enough to miss the playoffs, yet good enough to not secure a reasonable chance at winning the draft lottery. It's time to embrace this team for what they are. Mediocre.
The Wild right now are the mild salsa of hockey teams. They're certainly not burning up the standings, yet you won't find them overly watered down and bland either. Well, on most nights you won't anyway. It's a life we've grown accustomed to in the Midwest. Watching from our homes as our favorite teams struggle to find any relevancy in a long grind of a season. Just as we grind through the endless winters here in Minnesota, so to do our teams.
The problem with where we sit in the standings is that we have been conditioned to think there are only busts available with mid-round picks in an NHL draft. This is not the case however, we've just had terrible luck in these situations in the past. Now maybe part of the problem to this day is how we are developing these kids as they rise through the ranks, and some of it is very likely poor scouting in the past.
When you're used to someone like HWSNBN and his staff, it's really no wonder why we are so used to ineptitude when it comes to our draft class. Brent Flahr has proven to have a keener eye for the finer details in potential prospects, and we've seen that as kids like Jonas Brodin (10th overall in 2011) and Jason Zucker (59th overall in 2010) who are both having tremendous seasons with the Wild. With these kids who have started to make names for themselves at the NHL level, and many more still making their way through the system like Mario Lucia and Alex Tuch who recently played at the World Juniors for Team USA and is having a tremendous season with Boston College, Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr have shown they have an ability to make the most out of the picks given to them.
Now Flahr and company have certainly not hit on every draft selection. We've had some busts, even the best of them don't always work out. Yet with a track record in drafts that points to more success than failure we should not shudder at the idea that the Wild will be drafting around 10th come this June. With how Coach Yeo has groomed this team into one of the better possession squads in today's NHL, the thought that we can make the best out our players does not seem as far-fetched as it had in the previous regime.
Sure, we will very likely not get a true game changer like Jonnor McEichel. Yet even those top-tier draftees are not a promise at glory and riches. The Oilers have proved as much as they continually win the lottery, yet over the last half decade have failed to find themselves a meaningful season. The Sabres look to be a team on the rise but this is all just speculation until they actually do something worth praising. Teams that struggle over the last handful of seasons have not shown the kind of turnaround we have seen here with the Wild, and we haven't had a pick higher than 7th when they took Matt Dumba in 2012, and previous to that we selected Mikael Granlund with the 9th overall pick in 2010.
Fancy stats tell us that the Wild are indeed a good team, and this is very much true, but the proof is in the pudding. Right now, that pudding is a mixture of tapioca and toothpaste with an orange juice chaser. We've been over the reasons why any number of times. The team, as a whole, have not played well enough to earn a spot in the post-season, but the years of draft busts seem to be behind us, and we should not get overly worried about a mid-round selection come this June. Plenty of good names will still be on the table, and I have confidence in our team scouts and front office to find the right kid to bring into the fold.