The Magnificant Seven are Great but...
Posted by Dan Shrader on Sunday, March 04, 2012
There is a distinct difference in this year's annual "bottoming out and looking toward the future version 2012"- the injuries to a number of top-6 forwards and the subsequent glaring lack of depth are now easily lamentable considering what lies on the horizon.
We're all fluent with the names and player types at this point, almost reading like the dossier of some sort of covert ops collective in an action movie: Mikael Granlund is the boy wonder of Helsinki, Charlie Coyle is the Beast from The East, Jason Zucker the speedball, Jonas Brodin the ethereal skating defenseman, Zack Phillips the master strategist, Brett Bulmer the explosives expert, and Johan Larsson the computer and electronics whiz...er, you get the point.
Arguably the most impressive, talented, and touted group of Minnesota Wild Draft picks........ever. Just the fact that there is 3 second round picks in the mix (from the same Draft!) goes to show that this is something exclusive to the Chuck Fletcher regime.
Brodin aside, we're looking at roughly two lines of Top-6 forwards. There's going to be growing pains, inconsistencies, and the things that go with learning to play at the NHL level AND becoming a professional at your craft. Its not like we're just going to throw the veterans out: Mikko Koivu is here long term (whether or not he'll play 82 games is the question), Kyle Brodziak is the second most important forward on the team, and there's guys like Devin Setoguchi, Nick Johnson, Cal Clutterbuck, etc. There will be some guidance AND protection for the younger forwards.
There's going to be shelter, AND four lines of opportunity to put players in positions to succeed.
While the focus is on the forwards, and rightfully so, I think its prudent to look at our blueline- we should, in theory, have a veteran group (or at least a group of guys who have a good amount of games together) who can take care of the back end while the youngsters are trying to find their way.
Why do I say this? Teams with young and talented forwards need a veteran defense to win championships.
For better or worse, when the kids (or whoever pans out), we're looking at Tom Gilbert, Jared Spurgeon, Nate Prosser, and Marco Scandella as a core; you got guys like Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner too. Throw in Brodin, and maybe a HIGH PROFILE FREE AGENT and that's a young but veteran group in or nearing their primes, giving a buffer to the players up front.
And I'm not even mentioning how this would be beneficial to the goaltending being eventually being handed off to Matt Hackett/Darcy Kuemper.
A veteran group allows for youth up front and in net to develop with a safety net of sorts. A veteran defense also allows a guy like Brodin or whoever to play protected minutes without exploiting his youth and inexperience, giving Chuck Fletcher the ability to tinker with the group without hurting the integrity of the unit.
Yes, the incoming youth is exciting, but it all starts on the back end.