No brainer for me, and that is to get Latendresse back. While Zid's minutes are missed during EV and PP time, our defensive core has done phenominally well considering it is made up of 1 guy can only be utilized for shot blocking essentially (Zanon), three prospects (Stoner, Scandella, and Spurgeon), and then 2 players who are Top 4 dmen. Meanwhile, we still struggle on the offensive side and we sorely miss having another threat on the wings to keep opposing teams guessing what to do with lines in order to combat it. Having Lats back essentially gives us a better opportunity at scoring chances since you can then mix up 3 lines of players who we've already seen can compliment one another extremely well. This allows Richards the ability to move Mittens/Bruno up and down the lines as he sees fit along with having Lats play with puck handlers like Bouchard and Havlat as well. Basically in short, while I would love to have the minutes ate up on the blue line, the gains far outweigh if Lats came back and was able to produce as he did last year.
I'm going to have to go with Zidlicky. I'm doubting that Zidlicky will need a rehab stint and can make an impact right away. It will also allow Barker to be put in the press box or best case, traded.
While we need scoring and can use Lats back, Zidlicky really does give our ability to break the puck out of the zone better.
Without a doubt it's Latendresse. Don't get me wrong, I like Zidlicky, what he brings to the table offensively, and his shot on the PP, but Lats is a big body with soft hands who can score up front, and this team could use all the offense it can get.
Right now, the defense is pretty solid. Sure, you'd like an upgrade at Barker's spot, but the three pairings, Burns-Schultz, Stoner-Zanon, Spurgeon-Barker all have a puck mover who can do the job. And I've been happy with what I've seen from Spurgeon and Stoner.
But up front, who couldn't use a 25-30 goal scorer? Clutterbuck is a great energy guy, but he doesn't have the hands and finishing touch of Latendresse. Bringing Lats back into the fold would give the Wild three honest scoring lines and take a little heat of the Koivu line.
The Speckled Kiwi:
Latendresse. Defense is holding up pretty good and we got some puck movers but we need another goal scorer and another body up front for the playoffs. Our depth is weak on the top 6 and if we get hit by an injury, Lats can help fill in that problem.
Zidlicky is okay but we got guys that can move the puck and we got more depth in the minors for defensemen then forward.
It's a tough question to answer at the moment just because so many different, unknown variables come into play with a question like this. What Marek Zidlicky and Gui Latendresse would the Wild really be getting back? The Zidlicky who's been playing fairly exceptional two-way defensive hockey for well over a season? Or one who's physical play and vital shot from the point may be hampered by a wonky shoulder injury that may not be completely healed? What about Latendresse? Would we get the player who gave Wild fans hope that we may have a budding scorer on our hands? Or will we see him come back still out of shape and not ready to take a top 6 shift as a result; even disregarding his surgeries?
It's hard to say for certain who I'd like to see given the uncertainty surrounding each player. Even then, given how well the team is currently playing, you've got to figure out the most seamless transition for slotting players into the line-up (as well as the effects each would create up and down the line-up).
Knowing what we know to date about each of the players in addition to watching what we have with this team, I'm taking Marek Zidlicky. I think he's the player that represents the most realistic option of bringing the most to the table. Given the time Gui has missed and the way he originally showed up to camp, I don't think he'd be in proper game shape. I also believe the Wild can sustain their goal scoring depth well enough without him. On the back end, well, I think there are some players playing a bit over their head at the moment. And as it stands, the depth isn't the caliber as I see from the forwards. With Zidlicky, the team would also be getting the shot from the power play that the team has been missing in his absence. As much as I admire Jared Spurgeon's play to this point, Zidlicky is rather large upgrade on the power play.
Since we have all been surprised by the play of Jared Spurgeon, I'd say that the Wild be better off getting Latendresse back because we can always use more scoring. Latendresse knows how to score, and you can always use more goal-scoring. If our defenseman were struggling, I'd say Zidlicky, but Latendresse has a natural knack for scoring goals. That's something that's much harder to replace.
Although it has worked in the short-term, I feel that the Wild would be better off getting back Marek Zidlicky in the long-term. It's a lot to ask our blue line (made up of two rookies) and goaltending to continue to be overstreched and overachieve. Getting Zidlicky back alleviates that problem and puts a few defensemen back into a more comfortable position. Adding Latendresse, the team's leading goalscorer last year, is just icing on the cake as there are other options to score with or without him.