Tag Archives: Gustav Olofsson

The 2017-18 Minnesota Wild Need to be Tamed

The definition of tame - Tame The Wild

Wildly inconsistent play has been the problem for this season’s Minnesota Wild team.

This Wild have yet to reach a consistent level of play this season. They’ve had stretches where they’ve looked like they figured it out and will get on a roll but then they’ll have a setback with a loss because of uncharacteristic play. Or they’ll lose confidence in their play and have up and down stretches during the game and have to turn it on in the 3rd period to comeback from a deficit.

Maybe that shouldn’t be very surprising considering the injuries and new players transitioning to the lineup. They made the trade for Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis from Buffalo and lost 2-3 players in free agency and the expansion draft. That’s 3 defensemen and around 7 forwards transitioning or still working on transitioning to the Wild’s system when you include the prospects who have been up & down so far this season.

That’s half of the forwards and the bottom pair of defenseman. Add a new defensive coach to that list and that means there were probably some changes to the defensive scheme, too. Maybe that explains the problems as the younger players & prospects have played pretty well in their roles. It’s been the veterans who haven’t brought their A-games or haven’t prepared well enough to be ready for the game. You have to live with the mistakes from the younger players who have yet to complete a full season in the NHL like Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly. They still need time to develop but that time needs to be in the NHL. They probably aren’t going to learn as much at the minor league level at this point in their careers.

Those are traits of a weak-minded team that doesn’t yet trust their teammates or understand the system they are playing. No, it doesn’t help that they suffered injuries to 4 of their top forwards but injuries are a part of the game and every team has to deal with them at some point during the season. The good to great teams find ways to battle through the injuries whether it’s a “next-man-up” situation or multiple players stepping up their game.

Last season, Bruce Boudreau said he thought it would take his team until Thanksgiving to play his system the right way. That meant they’d just play the game and know what to do from playing this new system for the first quarter of the season. They wouldn’t have to think about what they were supposed to do in any situation. It would just come naturally after playing that way for the first 20 games or so.

Well, look at the calendar! Thanksgiving is tomorrow and this team has yet to hit a level of consistently good play. They’ve been consistently inconsistent. We don’t know what team is going to show up at any point of the game. We know they won’t quit as they’ve shown with multiple comebacks and the way they bring it in the 3rd period.

The bottom line is they need to start games like they play in the 3rd period. Get and play with a lead. They are still one of the best defensive teams in the league. The offense hasn’t been great but that also shows a team not trusting each other or even themselves as they hesitate to shoot the puck way too much.

It was a good sign to see Mikael Granlund start to shoot the puck more in the loss to New Jersey on Monday night. He scored two goals in the 3rd period to tie the game and force overtime before the Devils scored early to force the Wild to settle for only 1 point. Hopefully, the rest of the team will take a note from that and also start to shoot the puck more and have a shoot-first mentality. Should they shoot every time? No, but they should have confidence in their shots and know when they should shoot the puck. Obviously, sometimes a pass will work better in certain situations but, a lot of times players are looking to pass when there’s a clear and very good opportunity to shoot and to score.

Tonight, the Wild are in Buffalo to face a couple old teammates in Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella. Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis return to where they played the majority of the 6 and 8-year NHL careers, respectively, before being acquired by the Wild. The game starts…well…right now so….

#GetWild &…

Bring The Clutter Every Day in Every Way

Did the Minnesota Wild make a Scandellous Trade?

Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella traded to Buffalo Sabres, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno traded to Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild’s Salary Cap might have been a little too tight after trading F prospect Alex Tuch to the Vegas Golden Knights so they would take Erik Haula in the expansion draft instead of any of their available defenseman. They still had to sign Restricted Free Agent forwards Nino Niederreiter & Mikael Granlund with only about $15.2M available under the cap.

34-year-old F Jason Pominville had 2 more years & $12.2M left on his contract ($5.6M Cap Hit) and Marco Scandella had 3 years & 12M left ($4M Cap Hit) so it was going to be difficult to sign both Niederreiter & Granlund and try to do anything in free agency. The Minnesota Wild have had depth at the back end for a while now and they dealt Marco Scandella from that depth in order to free up some cap room.

It was good to get rid of Jason Pominville’s contract. He’s been underperforming for a few seasons. He came to the wild in the strike shortened season of 2012 known as a goal scorer because he had scored 20+ goals for 6 consecutive season in Buffalo scoring 157 goals in 483 games (a 26.7/season average.) The majority of Minnesota Wild fans were excited to get a goal-scorer on their team. He scored 30 goals his first full season in Minnesota in 2013-14 but since then he’s only scored 42 goals in 317 games. That’s an average of only 10.8 per season.

Now, Marco Scandella is a different story and, of course, the principle player in this trade for the Buffalo Sabres. Marco probably deserved to play a larger role in Minnesota including spending more time on the power play so he could unleash that heavy slap shot more often and drive up those goal totals. He may have also been their best defensive defenseman because he would be physical along with being able to skate with most forwards in the National Hockey League. He was the Minnesota Wild’s best defenseman in the playoffs.

At the time of the expansion draft, I felt the Wild could somewhat afford to lose any of the defenseman they had to expose to the Vegas Golden Knights. If they lost Jonas Brodin, Gustav Olofsson could fill in or step into that spot. If they lost Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly could step up and if they lost Marco Scandella, I felt Christian Folin could replace the physicality that was one of the better parts of Scandella’s game. The Wild failed to re-sign Christian Folin so he ended up signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent.

So, the Minnesota Wild have Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly, Gustav Olofsson, Kyle Quincey, Ryan Murphy, Carson Soucy and, maybe, Nick Seeler vying for the 6 or 7 defense spots available. The only players that can or will be someone to count on bringing some sort of a physical element on the back end are Matt Dumba, Kyle Quincey, Carson Soucy and Nick Seeler. 2 of those 4 players most likely will have a pretty difficult time making the roster out of training camp and I don’t believe Olofsson, Reilly or Murphy bring much of a physical element at all.

That exposes the Wild’s defense to a physical forecheck. They can all skate very well so they may be able to evade that kind of a forecheck but they also have to be physical to clear the front of the net and protect their goalie. Most of them have decent size but size doesn’t always matter (careful!)

They did add Marcus Foligno, though. The big power forward acquired from Buffalo, 6’3″ and 228 lbs. was 5th in hits last season with 279. They still have some big bodies up front in Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Chris Stewart. Charlie Coyle is a beast of a man but he really doesn’t play all that physical. Hopefully, he’ll start to realize how good of a player he can be if he plays physical and shoots the puck more, A LOT MORE.

So, keep an eye on the defense when Minnesota Wild players report for training camp next Thursday, September 14th.

THAT IS JUST 6 DAYS AWAY!!! SIX DAYS!!!

Thanks for reading and hey…
Bring The Clutter Every Day in Every Way

The 2017-18 Minnesota Wild – Expansion Clutter

Who will the Minnesota Wild protect in the 2017 Expansion Drafat?

To protect or not to protect? That is the question.

For the Minnesota Wild, the expansion draft offers a bit of a dilemma as they have to leave some good players available when the expansion draft begins for the NHL’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, on Sunday morning.

Every NHL team has to submit a protected list of either 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie or any 8 players regardless of position & 1 goaltender.* The Minnesota Wild are likely choosing the former of protecting 7 Fs, 3 D-men and 1 G. This allows them to protect more forwards but only 3 defensemen. This is where the dilemma begins.
*To see all the expansion key times, dates and rules, click 
HERE

Any player with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agreed to waive that right by Friday at 4:00 pm CST. That means the Wild have to protect Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, and Ryan Suter taking up 3 forward spots and 1 defenseman spot. Jason Pominville would be an obvious choice to leave unprotected so they could protect another forward but, as of Friday night, we had not heard yet if Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher had asked Mr. Pominville if he would waive his no-move clause. We may not find out until the lists are released to the teams on Sunday morning at 9:00 am CST.

Minnesota Wild Forwards from CapFriendly.com

Minnesota Wild Forwards from CapFriendly.com

They can only protect 4 more forwards from the above list excluding Martin Hanzal and Ryan White as they are going to be Unrestricted Free Agents as of July 1st.* There are no-brainers like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Niederreiter who are all just 24-25 years old. Of the rest, the players you’d think the Wild would want to protect are Erik Staal and Jason Zucker. *Players with 2 or fewer years of NHL/AHL experience are exempt so they don’t have to protect Joel Eriksson-Ek.

So they either have to expose rising star Jason Zucker or their #1 center Eric Staal. Jason Zucker had a career year last season scoring 22 goals while dishing 25 assists in 79 games. He also took a big step defensively, leading the league in plus/minus (in a tie with teammate Ryan Suter) with a +34. So, he’s now a responsible player who Bruce Boudreau can count on in all situations.

Eric Staal could easily be the comeback player of the year as he helped the Minnesota Wild solidify the center position while scoring 65 points (28 goals, 37 assists.) He regained his love for the game in the State of Hockey after winning the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in his 2nd NHL season in 2006 then making the playoffs in only 1 of the next 10 seasons before being traded to the New York Rangers near the trade deadline in 2016.

So, do the Wild protect the up-and-coming sniper who is a threat with his speed any time he’s on the ice in Jason Zucker or the steely veteran who was a big reason why they were the 2nd-best team in the Western Conference last season? It’s a tough decision. It sounds like they are leaning toward protecting Jason Zucker.

It all may be a moot point since the Wild can only protect 3 of their defenseman and, one would think, the Vegas Golden Knights would want to build from the net out and be able to defend well right out of the gate.

Minnesota Wild Defensemen and Goalies from CapFriendly.com

Minnesota Wild Defensemen and Goalies from CapFriendly.com

They have to protect Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon is a no-brainer so they’re left with the impossible decision of which one defenseman to protect from Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and Matt Dumba. That’s 2 up-and-coming young defensemen in Brodin & Dumba and Marco Scandella, who was their best defenseman in the playoffs and plays with some physicality, has great skating ability to be a shutdown defenseman and has a rocket for a shot. He is 27 but that’s not old for a defenseman by any means.

Jonas Brodin is the hot name in trade rumors but the Wild have had teams call about the availability of Matt Dumba & Marco Scandella as well. If the Wild were only choosing for right now, Marco Scandella might very well be the guy but they have to look at the future and they have two players that could fit very well together as a 2nd defensive pair. Jonas Brodin is better defensively and Matt Dumba is better offensively. They are opposite-handed shots with Brodin shooting left & Dumba shooting right.

A lot of fans are frustrated with Dumba as he makes some bad decisions defensively. That being said, he’s just 22 and can certainly get better in that area and he put up 34 points (11 goals & 23 assists) with 6 goals (and 6 assists) coming on the power play. Jonas Brodin probably should have more points over the last 3 seasons, especially since he jumped from 2 goals in his rookie season to 8 in his 2nd season. Some of that can be from the Wild struggling to score goals for most of their existence and from the coaches taking him off the power play in favor of Jared Spurgeon, Scandella, and even Dumba.

The good news is no matter who they lose from their defense, they should be able to fill that spot with a current player and/or a prospect who looks ready to take the next step to a full-time role on the big club. If they lose Jonas Brodin, they have Gustav Olofsson, who patterns his game after his fellow Swede and got a chance to show what he can do for the Wild last season, impressing his coach along the way. If they lose Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly might very well be able to step in as an offensive defenseman who’s finding his defensive game after 2 seasons going back and forth between the AHL to the NHL. If they lose Marco Scandella, Christian Folin could step in as he plays physical and is a good defensive defenseman. They also have Nick Seeler, who Chuck Fletcher said was the “most improved player” in the organization last year. They still have Carson Soucy, who just turned pro after 4 years playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, too.

Chuck Fletcher is listening to any and all offers he’s getting for his players and had a lot of interest in recently traded F Jonathan Drouin. He was supposedly their #1 target:

Unfortunately, Fletch was handcuffed since he really couldn’t deal one of his 3 defensemen to get Drouin and then still risk losing another one of those 3 defensemen and also find a way to protect Jonathan Drouin.* Now, we wait to see if the Wild make a move to try to solve their Expansion Clutter.
*Remember when Tampa Bay was supposedly asking for Matt Dumba to get Jonathan Drouin when he wanted to be traded last season? They might have the same problem trying to figure out who to protect right now, though, not to mention how to fit Drouin in with their other current restricted free agents.

All teams have to submit their protected lists by 4:00 pm CST on Saturday afternoon. There will be a trade, waiver and signing freeze beginning at 2:00 pm CST on Saturday as well. This will leave Vegas as the only team allowed to make trades, place players on waivers, or sign players to contracts.

Starting on Sunday at 9:00 am CST, every team’s protected list will be approved and distributed to teams and the NHL Players’ Association (& supposedly made public, too.) At the same time of 9:00 am CST, an exclusive window for free agent negotiation will begin for the Knights.

As always, THANKS for reading. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ if you want to chirp us about this or anything else. We welcome it and want to hear your thoughts so….

Bring The Clutter Every Day in Every Way