While we're waiting for tomorrow's game vs. the Blues (because, hey, who isn't excited to watch the Wild play St. Louis on the road?!), I want to talk a bit about waivers.
The waivers system is one that is designed to do two things: Give a check to teams who would otherwise bury NHL-level players in the minors, and to help the worst teams in the league improve. As we saw in Jarret Stoll's case, it's a great way for a club to take a chance on a player, usually in a way that requires no risk at all.
Waivers have also been woefully underutilized this season.
Earlier this month, Alexander Semin hit the waiver wire. Semin had a disappointing start in Montreal, for sure. But Semin was still a credible offensive player who could still be productive in third-line minutes. Surely there was some team out there who would've wanted to bring another talented winger for the low price of 1.1 million, right? Nope. 29 teams passed on Semin, and he's now playing in the KHL. An opportunity wasted.
Yesterday saw David Rundblad go through waivers. Rundblad, a former first-round pick, frustrated the defensemen-starved Chicago Blackhawks, and admittedly, that's reason for pause. But he's a 25-year-old defenseman who's performed decently in sheltered minutes. Look at the teams at the bottom of the standings: Columbus, Buffalo, Edmonton, Toronto. There was no room at the inn for a skilled defenseman that hasn't put it together yet? Or look at a team like Pittsburgh. They're so desperate for defense that they traded for Trevor Daley. Trevor Daley is terrible. They couldn't take a chance on Rundblad, who's making only $900K?
And now we've got today, where Sam Ganger passed through waivers in Philadelphia. Gagner isn't the player that Edmonton hoped they'd be getting when they drafted him in 2007's first-round. But he's 26, and while he's not great defensively, he's a decent playmaker who'd look at home on a third line. I get that his cap hit (4.8M) is definitely negative value against the cap, but there are teams that can afford a percentage of the expiring year of his contract (especially with Tampa Bay footing a third of the bill). No doubt some team with cap room fighting for a playoff spot in need of offense (say, Anaheim, or Nashville, or Winnipeg) could've used him in a limited role, but they passed on him completely.
Why? Unlike a trade, waivers only cost money, and this is a competitive league where GMs scratch and claw, vying for every single advantage possible. Except in this instance. Why not take a flier on some of these talented players? Why allow Chicago or Philadelphia to bury these contracts in the minors when they could just as easily be helping your team- at virtually no risk, to boot?
I don't know.
Anyway, I've talked about this long enough, so let's go to the Walk.
Forgot About Backs - Articles - Articles - Homepage - Wild Xtra- Nowadays, everyone want to talk like they got somethin' to say, but nothin' comes out when they move their lips, just a buncha gibberish and mothafuckas act like they forgot about Bac-kay.
Yeo vs. Vanek: The Role of Creativity on the Wild - Minnesota Wild - Articles - Homepage - Wild Xtra- Yeo is saying the Wild are being too creative, which probably means that they haven't been dumping pucks in the zone perpendicularly to the boards every single time they try entering the zone.
Looking Back on a Wild Year- Alli Baker takes a look at The Year of the Dub.
Wild: Outdoor practice offers glimpse of what's to come - TwinCities.com- The Wild practiced outdoors. I would've went there to see it, but they probably charged 40 bucks to watch it.
Wild heads outdoors for practice, prepping for February festivities - StarTribune.com- This outdoor practice is in preparation for an outdoor game vs. the Blackhawks. It'll be good to watch Nate Prosser vs. Rob Scuderi at picturesque TCF Bank Stadium.
Tending the Fields
World Junior Championship Update: Wild prospect Kirill "Ghostface Kirilla" Kaprizov had an assist on two shots yesterday as Russia defeated Belarus 4-1. Kaprizov has 1 goal and 2 assists in three games as an 18-year-old. The young winger has only seen his stock go up since being selected in the 5th round of this year's draft. 2015 first-rounder Joel Eriksson Ek has no points in three games, but his 12 shots are tied for third in the tournament with David Pastrnak. Those goals should start coming soon.
NCAA Hockey 101: Boston University, breaking bad | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Wild second-rounder Jordan Greenway finds himself on a Terriers team that is struggling after the loss of Jack Eichel.
Off the Trail
Patrick Burke on bringing NHL, women's pro leagues together at Winter Classic | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- The Winter Classic is going to have a really exciting match-up between the best of the CWHL and NWHL.
New York Rangers vs. the snowball effect | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- The Rangers must've contracted all the Wild's December woes somehow. It also doesn't help that they're also bad and not good.
Ducks On Verge Of Becoming NHL's Most Dangerous Team- They will be even more dangerous when they draft Auston Matthews this summer.
Canadiens 'beat by a better team' in loss at Florida | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Florida isn't an exciting team, but they've got a lot of interesting young players. It's kinda cool to see them atop the standings.