The Minnesota Wild are without a doubt the winners of this year’s free-agency. They were able to lure, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the top two free agents, away from their respective teams and into the State of Hockey.
While Wild fans are sure to be riding an unprecedented high, one has to wonder are the Wild now Cup contenders, or even playoff ready, with the addition of the two super stars?
The answer would have to be no, in both cases. The team does not have enough depth, on any front to be labeled elite and a Cup contender. Sure, they might have enough talent to make the playoffs, and that’s a stretch, but to say anything else is impossible.
The Wild’s top line will likely look like this, Mikko Koivu between Parise and Dany Heatley, that is 67 goals and 166 points between their top three last season. The Wild’s projected second line of, Matt Cullen between Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Devin Setoguchi put together 42 goals and 93 points last season.
Not exactly a strong one two punch. Their defensive corps is probably weaker, outside of Suter, than their offensive counterparts. Cementing some of the Wild’s poor defense is the play in their own end. Other than Suter, only Clayton Stoner finished with a positive plus/minus last season.
When you look at the Wild’s defenseman, you just don’t get the feeling that this group has what it takes to come in on a nightly basis and backstop their team to a win. Most of them are young and could have a big upside in their future, but that turnaround is not likely to come after one season.
Seriously, would you think you could win when Tom Gilbert is your projected number two guy on the blue-line?
Before, everyone jumps me and starts screaming about their prospects coming through the system. When was the last time a team full of prospects made the playoffs?
Finally, perhaps the Wild’s weakest area is in net. Is there any person that thinks Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are a goalie tandem capable of piecing together a run at the Stanley Cup, or even a season good enough for the playoffs.
Both Backstrom and Harding sported .91 save percentages last season, and neither broke the 20 win mark. Are those the numbers of Stanley Cup winning goalies? No way.
It is just too big a task for the Wild to rebound from finishing 14-points out of the playoffs last season to making the playoffs. Sure they will be a better team, but a playoff team, doubtful, a Stanley Cup contender, no chance.
But for now, let Wild fans flock in and by their Parise and Suter jerseys while riding the energy that has come with this monstrous signing. Because, once the season starts, it may not be as happy a time.