FGD: Rookies and Liabilities All the Way Down

Kent Wilson
February 11 2013 01:14PM

 

 

There were Great Expectations in Minnesota after their hot start last year and big free agent additions this summer. The stats-inclined amongst us remained skeptical and indeed with a .500 start through the early going and bottom of the league possession numbers, the Wild remain one of the least intimidating opponents in the league currently.

The Flames aren't exactly imposing either, of course. Without Cammalleri and Backlund once again, they will be dressing two rookies on their second line. Not to mention the rookie in net who is playing with the knowledge he will probably be waived and demoted almost as soon as the final buzzer sounds.

Calgary was noticeably exposed against the Canucks on Saturday night in light of these issues, so they can't exactly take anyone lightly at this point. Particularly since they have to start collecting points soon before the early season hole becomes too deep to dig out of. With just 8 points in 9 games and currently sitting 12th in the Western Conference, the Flames are in danger of falling too far behind the pack out of the gate if they continue to lose for much longer.

The bad news for the Wild is their spending spree has only marginally improved the club over last year's Cinderella edition. Ryan Suter is playing in the top-4, has a respectably easy zone start (54%) and is getting absolutely buried in terms of possession (-11.95/60). In fact, his corsi is the worst amongst regular Wild blueliners, which should be especially alarming for Minny's decision makers given how much money they invested in him. It's early so it's possible Suter will reel things in, but those are poor early returns. 

Zach Parise has been better and is one of the few Wild forwards above water. He hasn't turned them into instant contenders or anything, but there's no question the Wild's top line is much more dangerous now and will be the primary concern for the Flames this evening.

The Line-up

Nothing changes from the Canucks game aside from Sarich drawing in for Derek Smith. And for good reason - Smith had a dreadful night in Vancouver. Babchuk remains a healthy scratch (FOR NOW).

  • Glencross - Tanguay - Iginla
  • Cervenka - Street - Hudler
  • Comeau - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Begin - Jones - Jackman

  • Bouwmeester - Giordano
  • Brodie - Wideman
  • Sarich - Butler

  • Irving

Stempniak continues to be good on the third line, generating another goal and a few chances on Saturday night, but that unit wasn't as noticable sans Backlund. The second line was also very quiet with Ben Street in the middle. He has had a good few years in the AHL but Street struggled to do anything of note in his first NHL contest for the Flames. It remains to be seen if he'll be able to translate things at this level.

The Opposition

Parise and Koivu are the big guns here. Cal Clutterbuck is a really good middle-tier, shut-down player (although he's known more as a hitter/agitator) and Kyle Brodziak is a capable 3rd line type center.

  • Parise - Koivu - Coyle
  • Heatley - Granlund - Setoguchi
  • Cullen - Brodziak - Clutterbuck
  • Bouchard - Konopka - Rupp

  • Suter - Brodin
  • Stoner - Gilbert
  • Falk - Prosser

  • Backstrom

The Wild's second line is probably a lot more famous than it is effective. Mikael Granlund made hay in Finland the last couple years and is generally considered a high level prospect, but he has been beat up so far in the early going of his NHL career. Granlund's possession numbers are terrible (worst on the team in fact) and he has just 3 points in 10 games played and 14 shots on net. He's a guy finding his legs and shouldn't be in a top-6 position at this point in his career. 

Dany Heatley's fall from grace is well established at this point. He's a guy you don't want firing on your goalie from the slot, but the rest of his game has fallen away over the years. Devin Setoguchi has the second worst possession rate on the team ahead of only the aforemention Granlund, which is not unsual for the erstwhile Shark. I suspect it's part of the reason San Jose had no problem moving him.

The Wild's other roster holes are obvious on their back-end. Suter is paired with rookie Jonas Brodin on the first pairing. Brodin is another pretty decent looking prospect, but again he's hardly being delpoyed in ideal fashion, assuming the Wild want to win more than a few games this year.

Also, I don't know what PM Bouchard is doing on a 4th line with two ruffians.

Sum It Up

Minnesota remains a flawed club despite their Wild (pun!) spending this past off-season. They have a first line the Flames need to be concerned with and few other decent pieces peppered throughout their line-up, otherwise it's rookies and liabilities all the way down. At some point all of this may coalesce into a contender, but it won't be this season for sure.

That said, they could be a club battling for that final playoff position in the West come game 48, which is probably where the Flames will find themselves as well. If Calgary intends to make the dance, then Minnesota is a key team to grab points from.

TIlted Kilt Ticket Giveaway

Good News Everyone! The Tilted Kilt is giving away two tickets to a lucky patron this evening. Simply stop by before the game and you could win the chance to walk down the street and watch the action at the dome as well.

Otherwise you could just stick around TK and enjoy the game on their various big screens. Win-win!

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#51 yomamen
February 11 2013, 08:21PM
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Thanks for this info. Keep on updating please

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#52 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:23PM
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We need their 1st.

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#53 negrilcowboy
February 11 2013, 08:26PM
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clayton stoner should open a chain of headshops classic name for pitching drug paraphenelia

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#54 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:28PM
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I think Arnold will finish college. Last year the USA was here for 10 days and I was very impressed with him as an all round player and as a great person. Hope he makes it.

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#55 yomamen
February 11 2013, 08:29PM
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Officials sucks badly today

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#56 thymebalm
February 11 2013, 08:29PM
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3 point night for Gaudreau now. He always comes alive in the 3rd it seems.

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#57 TheBear64
February 11 2013, 08:32PM
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Irving's looking sharp. Looking over his sholder at MacDonald?

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#59 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:34PM
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Colton Orr with as many goals as Iggy!

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#61 ChinookArch
February 11 2013, 08:37PM
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Hard not to like Wideman on the point.

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#62 negrilcowboy
February 11 2013, 08:41PM
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wow river hockey two highly explosive teams

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#63 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:41PM
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The Flames are awful. No identity and no direction. As bad as Minny is, they at least have a direction and plan.

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#64 SmellOfVictory
February 11 2013, 08:41PM
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I'm finding it hard not to like Wideman in general. He's got a fairly desirable skillet, 5.5 mil or not.

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#66 ChinookArch
February 11 2013, 08:43PM
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Did I wake up in 2012 today. This game is making me crazy. Crap, disjointed and boring

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#68 SmellOfVictory
February 11 2013, 08:46PM
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Minny's direction: failtown. Plan: pay way too much money to a small cadre of players. They're not going anywhere good with 30 mil dedicated to 4 players, all f whom are at or close to 30, and who are collectively worth more like 23 mil

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#69 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:50PM
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Coyle, Brodin, Granlund and plus Parise, Backstrom and Suter is a pretty nice core. Compare that to the Flames including payroll.

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#70 Gunk
February 11 2013, 08:54PM
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flames finally putting a little pressure on & I like Irvings Puck handling abilities and confidence tonight.

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#72 SmellOfVictory
February 11 2013, 08:55PM
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Baertschi and Brodie are equal or better as a pair, in my eyes, and Coyle may be a total non-factor. Praise and Suter are good but both slightly overpaid, as is Koivu. Heatley is substantially overpaid

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#73 ChinookArch
February 11 2013, 08:56PM
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Just when I was thinking the Flames are finally putting it together . . .

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#74 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:56PM
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Are you Jay Feaster's relative?

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#76 Kurt
February 11 2013, 08:57PM
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Well there it is...

On what other team is Glencross a 1st line player? Certainly not any real teams.

I love the guy, but he belongs on a good team's 3rd line.

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#77 thymebalm
February 11 2013, 08:57PM
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Not in his net or crease, but not his fault right?

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#78 Vintage Flame
February 11 2013, 08:58PM
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Bad giveaway leads to a crappy Minny goal. Poor Irving.

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#79 Vintage Flame
February 11 2013, 08:58PM
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Bad giveaway leads to a crappy Minny goal. Poor Irving.

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#80 clYDE
February 11 2013, 08:58PM
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Are you related to Feaster?

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#81 yomamen
February 11 2013, 08:59PM
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I know that this gonna be a goal for Minny for at least 20 second before that goal. Every little think, every battle for puck goes in way of Minnesota. Damn

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#83 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:04PM
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Everyone is saying Minny is off to a poor start and after tonight they are in the playoffs with a mixture of great players in their prime plus some tremendous youth. But, we will have a great chance at Jones or Mckinnon.

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#84 SmellOfVictory
February 11 2013, 09:07PM
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http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospect-rankings/

Baertschi above Granlund. As to Brodie vs Brodin, he's a little older, but he's already a good 2nd pairing defenceman at 22, so unless Brodin's upside is allegedly a 1st pairing dman, I'd take Brodie.

Coyle was a somewhat okay college player who did well for one season in junior before turning pro. Minnesota, with its core ALL at or past peak age, is one of the worst teams in the league. That's after they bought two premier free agents. If you really think Minnesota has it together, go ahead and become a fan of them; then you can enjoy them sucking into perpetuity.

Realize, this isn't an argument of "the Flames are an amazingly-run team"; it's an argument of "the Wild suck ass". Although Feaster has actually done an admirable job with the Flames, overall (drafting Brodie and Backlund goes to Sutter, however)

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#85 thymebalm
February 11 2013, 09:08PM
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Why do people feel bad for Irving when he lets goals in?

He's being babied badly for a supposed NHL pro by the fanbase.

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#86 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:16PM
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Parisse, Suter and Bouchard are 28!!! Coyle was in the Q and an MVP. You are right. Poor job Minny.

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#87 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:20PM
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You realize to that Minny has 4 of the top 28 prospects too right???

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#89 Kurt
February 11 2013, 09:20PM
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Feaster has done an admirable job?? WTF. Your definition of admirable is clearly quite low.

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#90 ChinookArch
February 11 2013, 09:20PM
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And Team Czech ties it up.

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#91 Vintage Flame
February 11 2013, 09:24PM
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Nice play from Hudler there.. Shades of Iggy when he used to come down the side and snipe those.

Not saying he can't anymore, but we just don't see it.

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#92 Baalzamon
February 11 2013, 09:25PM
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Hudler!!!

@cLYDE/clYDE/clyde

Coyle has never impressed me anywhere ever (seriously, he hasn't), Bouchard spends even more time injured than Ales Hemsky (and is currently playing on the 4th line), Suter has been dreadful this season and was carried somewhat by weber for years. The Wild legitimately suck. They might be a halfway decent team in a few years, but i sincerely doubt Coyle becomes the superstar Wild fans think he will.

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#93 ChinookArch
February 11 2013, 09:26PM
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Kurt, You may to look at the 2010/11 Flames roster and look at the changes Feaster has made since then, before you go after him with a pitchfork.

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#94 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:30PM
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After ripping some of their great young talent, you still haven't got to Parise, Brodin, Dumba, Backstrom, Granlund and Koivu. I think this team is a lot closer to being good than you are willing to admit.

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#95 everton fc
February 11 2013, 09:32PM
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Just stopping by. Seems Irving looks sharp. good to hear. How's Street and Jones look this evening? And I have to say begin has done well in his limited role.

Saw the MacDonald signing. Means little. I would have loved to see Taylor get a look. Alas, looks like Irving's #1 with Kipper down, MacDonald on the bench, and Taylor getting minutes he needs, down in Abby.

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#96 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:33PM
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Charlie Coyle is a 6'2', 210 pound skilled forward in the NHL as a 20 year old and people here are not impressed?

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#97 CDB
February 11 2013, 09:35PM
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I seriously don't think people realize the state this franchise was in when feaster took over. Haven't agreed with everything but he's made some nice moves. They're in considerably better shape than when he took over

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#98 clYDE
February 11 2013, 09:39PM
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Totally agree CDB. This will take awhile but hopefully we speed it up a bit by moving Iggy and/or Kipper while we can get something. Iggy is taking away ice time from someone we could be developing at this point and Kipper is no longer a difference maker like he was.

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#99 T&A4Flames
February 11 2013, 09:39PM
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Who cares, I can't keep my eyes open long enough to see if they are good or not. Either way, they are still SOOOOOOO boring! I thought they were changing that?

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#100 Monaertchi
February 11 2013, 09:39PM
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I was thinking that this game could use a few more power plays, and then that happened.

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