Monday, April 2, 2012

So what's the big deal?

The Wild are winning. Three in a row won in OT or Shootout. Last night I witnessed a Twitter argument about whether the Wild should be tanking right now. I sat in disbelief as I witnessed several people claim that the Wild would be better off with a loss the last few games. Their logic essentially boiled down to the fact that a higher pick is more of a sure thing for a great player than a later pick.

I don't buy it. Well. Fine. I agree that generally speaking, a higher pick is more of a sure thing. But I don't buy that tanking is the right thing to do under the circumstances.

It would be easy to look back in hindsight and say that the Wild should have taken Giroux or Varlamov in 2006, Kopitar in 2005, or anyone not named AJ Thelen in 2004. In many cases with the Wild, one wonders if a player had been developed more effectively, that Pouliot, Sheppard, or Gillies would have played up to the potential we were hoping for when Doug F'n Risebrough drafted those guys. So, that's not a fair argument to make.

I think this year comes down to the depth of the draft in the 3-10 picks: Filip Forsberg, Mathew Dumba, Alex Galchenyuk, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Murray, Radek Faska, Morgan Reilly, and Griffin Reinhart are all players that I think could make an impact on this team in the next year or two. There are also surprises in the draft. You never know if a team will have a raging boner for a certain player ranked much lower and take him with an early pick (cf Mike "I'll cut ya, bitch" Milbury drafting Rick DiPietro first overall, dropping Gaborik into the Wild's hands.)

I'm not saying that someone will do something crazy, but you never know when Dave Nonis will trade his undead Swedes to Edmonton for Darcy Hordichuk, Theo Peckham, the ghost of Paul Coffey and the Grease's first pick so they can draft Alex Burrow's sister. Again, it's not something you can hang your hat on, but that's why they have the draft.

There's also the argument to be made that by winning now, the Wild are showing that they have a sense of pride, they have the heart and the stones to play hard when it doesn't matter. That can help in going after free agents. And if they can get a couple lines clicking like the Heatley-Koivu-Setoguchi line were clicking last night, that will only help to cement the relationships that, on the ice, will bear fruit next season. And while I'd never expect an NHL player, much less Mr. Intensity himself, Mikko Koivu, to put less effort in after closing out a season by losing their last 10 games, there is that niggling feeling that going out on a high note can help players feel better about their situation. Happy players attract other happy players, so going out on a positive note can also help to sow the seeds the Wild can reap in October.

Whatever happens, I think the Wild are in a good position to do a lot more winning next year, and hopefully they'll do most of it before they're eliminated from the playoff race.

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