Friday, July 6, 2012

Whoa Nellie: Wild Not Contenders Yet

by NiNY

Some of you guys need to tap the breaks a little bit.

Is the Wild a better, more competitive team today than it was on July 3rd? Absolutely.

Should a return to the playoffs be a prediction for the 12-13 season (however and whenever it occurs)? Yes, I think that's more than fair.

Are they a Cup contender? Come on.

Now, that doesn't preclude them from being next season's LA Kings or New Jersey Devils because they could.

But it's July 6th; I'm just trying to be reasonable.

The glass half full (GHF) set will point to the 20-7-3 start last season and say that only injuries derailed what could easily have been a playoff berth. So net adding to that roster should put us over the top.

The glass half empty (GHE) people will note that the team was certainly playing over its head until the injuries came along and slapped us all upside the head with the cold, dead fish of reality.

I'm sort of in the middle. I don't think they were a 100 point team last year (as a 20-7-3 record would indicate over a whole season). But I do think they could have been a playoff team after the start they got out to. Afterall, they did set the dubious record of being the team that was #1 overall in the league the latest day in the season that went on to fail to make the playoffs.

But that's really academic.

Which is why applying a "contender" status to the Wild right now is so silly. We aren't even all the way through free agent season. Add in Luongo, Nash, Ryan...there is still the potential for significant redistribution of power across the league.

I like what Fletcher has done wherever he's done stuff to the line up so far. A lot.

And we had a (precious) couple building blocks already in place.

And if he can make a move for another 2nd pair-type defenseman that would be dandy.

But only one team wins the Cup. Which means several really good teams don't win it - sometimes including the 'best' teams.

I just don't think it's reasonable to think we can consider ourselves among the Flyers and Kings and Canucks and Rangers just yet.

The "pinch me" moment for me when all that stuff was going down on Wednesday (we signed Parise and Suter, not sure if you heard that) was when I remembered that I was already excited about the future of the team - because of this great crop of young kids we have ready to make their pro debuts. The other stuff - where the Minnesota Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, for example - was just gravy. Really, really nice, rich, velvety gravy to be sure, but gravy nonetheless.

Seriously think about it: if we'd only signed these five guys this summer, that makes the team better for the next couple years. But what's going to make the team go from better to great over the next several years is the additional influx of all these young bucks we've got pawing at the ground, nostrils flared.

Again, I'm expecting a playoff berth this season.

But, A) that's sort of a backhanded compliment since that puts the Wild in the 53rd percentile of the league and B) while I don't think it's reasonable to think they'll be contenders this year, I also don't think we'll have to wait too long until we can do.

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