28 February 2012

State of Hockey trade reaction...

Three big trades in the final weekend before the deadline, and the Wild now have a very new look, particularly on defense.

Zidlicky for Veilleux, Foster, Palmeri, 2012 2nd rounder, possible 2013 3rd rounder. [Russo's Rants]

The State of Hockey was rightfully excited about this news.  Zidlicky's value in Minnesota had almost dissapeared, and the Wild got 4 or 5 pieces in return.  Granted, two of the pieces are rentals in familiar faces Foster and Veilleux, but honestly, with all due respect to everyone that's come up from Houston and played hard, I'd rather have these two in the lineup to hopefully keep the callups to a minimum.

As for the other pieces, I liked what Palmeri brought with Clutterbuck and Cullen on Sunday.  These guys won't score many pretty goals, but they all forecheck hard and win battles on walls.

My early comparison to the Twins trading Frank Viola was a little premature given two players are rentals, but still Fletcher made a very good deal here.

On the other side, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello only benefits here if Zidlicky can become the threat he was early in his stint with Minnesota, and not the gun-shy player he has been over the past few months.

And to think I thought fans suggesting we get more than a 3rd rounder for Zid was crazy talk.  I stand fully corrected.

Schultz for Gilbert. [SB Nation]

The news seemed gut-wrenching that the Wild have chosen to part ways with their longest-tenured player.  I admit this is the most baffling trade to me.  It's not about age (both 29), and not too much about salary or term either. (Gilbert's cap hit is $400K Higher, both deals end after next season.)

Fletcher's comments seem to indicate he believes Schultz and Gilbert are of similar value, just different styles.  Gilbert being more of a puck-mover than Schultz would benefit the Wild.

But to be honest, I'm just not sure about this deal.  I hope Gilbert ends up a better fit, but if he really is of similar value to Schultz, then is it really worth the risk of pulling Schultz out of the locker room?  Gilbert's, even being a Minnesota native, is going to be under some pressure from the fans, becuase of the player he replaced.

Then again, there are plenty of Edmonton fans not sure about this deal either, so that in itself gives me reason to be hopeful.

Perhaps it is sentimentality for Schultz that is in fact clouding the evaluation of this trade.  But I think it is risky without a lot of upside.

Zanon for Kampfer [Star Tribune]

I am a big fan of Zanon.  I am sorry to see him go.  I like his grit, I like his willingness to block shots, I think he's a good NHL defenseman.

That said, when fans complained about Doug Riseborough's refusal to make certain deals at the deadline, this is precisely the type of trade Riseborough failed to make.

I like Zanon a lot, but I can see that Yeo might not consider him a fit much longer.  If there was no plan to sign him, this trade is a win for the Wild, from the standpoint of it's better than getting nothing in return.  This trade is a win for Boston as well, they gave up a prospect in Kampfer that had a good rookie year last season, but the numbers haven't been there this year.  Zanon can help them win now, the jury is still out on Kampfer, and I think there's enough potential to motivate the Wild rolling the dice.  The Wild get another guy that can at least compete to become part of this new look defense, instead of letting Zanon walk for nothing.

If there's anything bad that can be said about this trade, it's that I think Zanon could've been valued higher.  I think his bad +/- number is attributable to being often paired with the offensive-minded Zidlicky, which I think resulted in a lot of goals against where he was the only guy in the frame.  Still, I think the Wild got an okay piece in return, and Boston made a good rental here as well.

Overall I think fans are generally pleased with two of the trades, the Schultz deal being the most controversial.  But I think Fletch has molded this team closer to his plan and away from his predecessor.

I am probably the playoff-optimist of the Wild blogosphere, but even if they don't get in, it should still be exciting down the stretch, as we get a better glimpse of the contending team we've been promised for the last few seasons.

23 February 2012

The State of Hockey shouldn't give up yet...

It's hard. The Wild have won just five of their last 20 games. I get it.

I've seen a lot of pieces like this one at First Round Bust being written saying its time to "pull the plug," as they put it.  I do agree with many of the reasons why.  But I guess I'm just stubborn.  I don't want to give up yet, and I think I have some good reasons why you shouldn't either.

There are a couple reasons I see pop up in the blogosphere now about the desire for fans to give up.  One, it provides cover for Fletcher if he wants to make trades for the future. Two, fans, just simply don't want to feel obligated to watch what has seemed to be incredibly atrocious hockey night in and night. (For what it's worth, I tend to get this in personal conversation and looking at comment sections more than in actual blog posts.)

To the first reason, I mostly agree.  At the trade deadline everyone wants to divide teams in terms of buyers and sellers.  Those that buy have a goal to reach (make the playoffs, deep run, win it all, etc...).  Those that sell have given up.  The odd thing about the Wild, is the high expectations didn't hit until after the season started.  It's been frequently reported that Fletcher is not entertaining trades for core prospects (Grandlund et al).  And if you really think about it, Fletcher is making available many of the players he probably would have at this point in the season anyway, especially concerning players coming to the end of their deals anyway.  The only difference is just disappointing performance won't yield as much in return for these trades.

(more after the jump)

20 February 2012

One SOH opinion: Peters' Suspension is justified...

Editor's Note: "One SOH opinion" posts solely reflect the views of the author.  This is to draw a distinction from the implication from the blog's title that all posts reflect the general views of average Minnesota Wild fans.  Still what's the fun of maintaining a blog if you can't use it as a personal soapbox once in a while.  All readers are welcome to submit "One SOH opinion" posts if you want to be published here.  On twitter DM your email address @SOTSOHockey if you would like more details.

As my readers know, approximately 68.2 per cent of the respect I had for supplemental discipline under Brendan Shanahan went out the window after the ridiculous, indefensible, inexcusable actions he took against Pierre-Marc regarding an alleged high stick in the opener against Columbus.

It certainly didn't take long for Shanahan to lose the other 31.8 per cent after that.

But I have no problem whatsoever with the action taken against Warren Peters for his high stick on Saturday against David Backes.

(video after the jump)

09 February 2012

Wild thing of the month - January 2012

(Editor's note: The Wild Thing of the Month features the one story, performance, or event that, in the opinion of this blogger, made Wild fans the happiest.  Feedback always welcome.)

January was another very tough month for the Minnesota Wild, as the skating W's managed only one win in their first eight games.  The ninth game of the month, fell on Hockey Day Minnesota.  For all the hockey played at all the levels that day, it would be the pro team mired in a losing streak that managed something amazing against the franchise that used to call Minnesota home.

It would start with unlikely fighter Darroll Powe taking on the gutless Stars' winger Steve Ott. (Here's a good summary from Russo's Rants)

While hockeyfights.com scored this bout decidedly in Ott's favor, it appears this sparked the Wild to set a new franchise record.  

Cal Clutterbuck, Chad Rau, and Kyle Brodziak would score 3 goals in 59 seconds (a new record for fasted 3 goals in franchise history).

Clutterbuck's Goal (from Cullen, Setoguchi):

Rau's Goal (from McMillan, Ortmeyer)

Brodziak's goal (from Heatley, Spurgeon)

For Chad Rau it is his first NHL goal, three days after his 24th birthday.  His parents we in attendance after attending younger brother Kyle's game for the University of Minnesota earlier in the day.  Rau and Ortmeyer have since been been sent to Houston, but I imagine Fletcher won't have any problem bringing them back again when needed.

So we have 12 joint winners, Darroll Powe, Cal Clutterbuck, Chad Rau, Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi, Carson McMillian, Jed Ortmeyer, Dany Heatley, Jared Spurgeon, plus two winners from the Stars.  Brendan Morrow for his assist on Rau's goal, and of course Coach Yeo would want me to credit Steve Ott as well.   Congrats to all, for being part of the three goals in 59 seconds for the Wild, and part of January's Wild thing of the Month.

(For my Wild thing of the month image reference, here's a picture of a roller coaster that opened when Chad Rau was nine years old.)

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 
Attribution to: Drbcoaster at en.wikipedia