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Wild direction, reflections

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Old
01-22-2004, 11:28 AM
  #1
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Wild direction, reflections

PS this post comes regarding recent discussion (e.g. DWP & TSK), on player development, Aeros, young forwards in cupboard, & the $64,000 question of overall Wild direction (was on Dupuis thread, but this ain't about Dupuis very directly, so I started new one):

I guess I find myself ambivalent in most ways. I like nothing better than seeing (well, hearing about) prospects emerge (preferably OUR prospects) but night to night can't help myself from wanting really viscerally to win, dammit, at least be competitive on scoreline & in corners too for that matter. I really don't mind the ties all that much, frankly; & even though I know intellectually that it's best to be either highly competitive or definitively out of things, what I find I want most of all is to be in the playoff race as long as possible, in every game as long as possible. Just there with a chance. I'd rather PM or Zyuzin or [insert your favorite youngish choice here] stepped up with 15 seconds to go, but if its Park or Dowd or Zholtok, so be it.

For now, all of that. Later to be near the top for good long stretch, like everyone wants. Happen to think competing nightly is the way for players & team to develop that tendency, though.

The Ottawa model (espoused by some here as the way) isn't quite right, for MN now, or anymore at least. The extremely high picks they got from being so bad for so long aren't going to come (hopefully to me, anyway); and I don't think it's a bad thing to have instilled in organization & fans the desire to be competitive present--but without being willing to either mortage future OR simply tank things with hopes of high pick payoff. I think that latter policy brings bad a bad climate all around, hard to shake.

SO, my points: I like reading about our Aeros & junior/Euro prospects, & have my favorites, but I don't really know how they stack up compared to other farm systems. General feeling is that cupboard can ALWAYS use filling, particularly (as many here have said) on D-man, both crease-clearing and puck-moving variety, and on gifted offensive forwards.

Upshot is: I'm actually in favor of the waiver wire/retread audition policy [others here are not I believe], and not JUST as a way to remain competive now (Wiemer, a great move I think) but as a means of shortcutting the expansion lack of organizational talent problem. That is, sure these guys coming in this last year or so (E Chouinard, Zyuzin, Daigle, others?) have their problems in terms of unfulfilled potential elsewhere, but 1st round picks who've seemed to bust/not pan out elsewhere at least have the potential potential, presumably the higher-rung talent, that we'll need to ever get beyond the 'team of overachieving grinders' identity.

if we were a different franchise, that didn't have the hard work/overachivement/defensive respondibility/tons of heart & character/whole greater than sum of parts, all of that culture already in place, then sure, to bring in talented underachievers would be wrong tack. BUT since the ground is already laid, and Lemaire & his veterans have laid down certain expectations & ethics, well i think in this climate SOME of the flyers we take (like Zyuzin, like Daigle to an extent) are gonna work. A well-calculated risk to increase overall talent level w/out threatening the all-important team base.

lord this has gotten long; apologies on violation of quick-message etiquette.

anyway, don't trade Dupuis. don't trade vets for the sake of making room for youngsters--if their development/talent DEMANDS a spot in NHL, then I think they'll get the spot, & be better for having knocked the door down...

[PS to bear in mind: I don't live in MN anymore or have NHL centerice so my perspective comes via NHL radio & ESPN, houston chronicle aero coverage, occasional dallas stars cable games, etc...]

submitted respectfully by longtime lurker,

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01-22-2004, 12:34 PM
  #2
ceber
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Just in case we're counting numbers, this pretty much sums up how I feel about things. You could probably argue me into stating things slightly differently, but for the most part, I agree.
We've got young talent in the system, but you always need more young talent. You can find that at most spots in the draft, though, if you work hard enough.
Our talent will play for us when they earn a spot. Right now some of them haven't, but they're still learning, even the "old-timers" who are 23. (Right now, unfortunately, they're learning what it's like to be mired in a slump.)
Good waiver pick-ups don't hurt the system, nor does grabbing guys on the waiver wire send some kind of "bad message" to the prospects, IMO.
I think it's important for the development of the team for them to be in a position of having to fight and struggle to make the playoffs. Missing that goal might not be all that bad a thing this season, either. But it's important that they work as hard as they can to make it.

I clearly don't want to work today, so I should just stop now before I ramble further.

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01-22-2004, 04:05 PM
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceber
Good waiver pick-ups don't hurt the system, nor does grabbing guys on the waiver wire send some kind of "bad message" to the prospects, IMO.
Exactly - it's up to the prospects to out-perform these guys. I'll also echo Neal's sentiment that Wiemer was an excellent pick-up.

People usually cite 2 models for organizations to follow: the Florida model, which was too good too soon, and the Ottawa model, which was suck for years and stock up on premium draft picks.

Well, there are other models nobody mentions in these discussions, and those would be the New Jersey or Detroit model. The New Jersey model has been to use the farm team to develop spare parts that are interchangeable with the main team, and add to that with select trades. They've been good now for a long time, even though a lot of the personnel has changed over the years. They have been good at adding new players to the mix through good scouting no doubt, and keeping the tradition of excellence going. I think the Wild are trying to emulate this model, and when their talent base is up to snuff, I could see them sustaining a good team.

The Detroit model - excellent scouting. How else could they come up with guys like Datysuk, Zetterberg, Grigorenko, while almost always drafting at the bottom, and usually without a full slate of picks. This is where I'd like the Wild to get someday.

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01-22-2004, 05:04 PM
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If there's anything I'd like to change, I'd like to see the coaching staff tweak the system a bit.
1) I've noticed that teams have started to figure out how to maintain control of the puck in our defensive zone more. There are seams that you can put the puck into, and you'll beat us to the puck more times than not. Maybe this isn't anything that doesn't happen with other teams, but I can see our guys hesitating to leave position and go after the puck, which leads to not getting it. Now, I don't think our defense is bad, but I think a little tweak now and then could improve things. Our goalies are good. If a guy gets out of position every once in a while and loses the puck, we've still got a good chance of getting out of the situation OK.
2) I'd like to see a more aggressive forecheck deployed occassionaly. Maybe an extra man (which I have seen happen a few times), maybe not. Maybe just a little more risk-taking now and then by the sole forechecker. Maybe shorter shifts for the forecheckers, so they can use their speed more effectively. Not all the time, but just once in a while. It's just an experiment I'd like to see.
3) A couple different set plays in the offensive zone. Maybe I'm not discerning enough to see the difference, but it often looks like we've got just the one cycling play. I'd like to see a little more variety. Not that I've got any suggestions on alternatives.

I suppose a lot of that has to do with the current crew of guys we've got and the current struggles they're having.

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01-23-2004, 12:22 PM
  #5
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You know Ceber, I think they may have tweaked the system along your lines a bit in the playoffs last year, especially when they were down. Just opening it up a bit more, and taking a few extra chances resulted in some of the best hockey the Wild has ever played IMO. I too dislike the way the Wild don't go after guys in their own end with a bit more aggressiveness, which can often be the spark that leads to odd man rushes. It seems they need to adjust something, and I think a bit more risk taking would be entertaining, if not productive.

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01-24-2004, 02:02 PM
  #6
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I would like to clarify a few things. In another thread, I pointed to the Ottawa Senators as the model that I would like to see the Wild use. But before I defend that, I would like to establish some basic principles that I think guide the Wild's management. This basically sets what is reality from fantasy.

1) The Wild want a team concept. They basically like a very disciplined, hard-nosed, systems approach to the game. Players that can't/won't play unselfish hockey will have a hard time fitting into the Wild's team concept.

2) The Wild want to hold salaries down. They want to win but don't want to find themselves bidding with NY, Colorado, Detroit, and some others for UFA sorts of fixes to yearly needs.

3) The Wild has gone record as stating that they want to build from within. The exceptions have been mostly for utility type players. Which for the Wild, currently can be almost everyone.

Point 3 is where I begin. It's true Ottawa was horrific in the early/mid 90's. But since 98-99, they have been very good. But their roster has changed. They do depend on these earlier low draft picks but they have managed to keep a very good prospect pool coming in even after they got good. And they have kept their payroll rather low despite this. So, what I was referring to when I pointed to Ottawa was their ability to keep their payroll down by always having young prospects to replace their current stars when they demand huge salaries.

To me, the Wild are at a crossroads. They do not have great prospects to look to keep them competitive immediately. How do they continue to stay in the playoff picture? Their systems game plan will always keep them in most games. So, they will always be in the fringe of being a playoff contender. Their current group of prospects would just ensure that. In order to make it to the next level, the Wild can go out and start signing big name players hoping that this helps. Or they can really concentrate on the future. Basically struggle like they are for a couple of years and scouting their tails off trying to get some advantage. Also, the Wild can trade players with some value for younger guys that might build up that talent level of solid two-way players. This is what I was advocating as a compromise position for trading Dupuis for a young big defensemen like John Erskine or Garnet Exelby.

Someone mentioned Detroit. What Detroit has done so well is that they target their scouting to finding a few players that can quickly fit onto the roster. But, they also know that they need to bring in big time talent. They have the money. They have done it the right way when many others have done it the wrong way.

New Jersey has also been pointed to. They have managed stayed on top. Their salaries are not outrageous. They seem to sign and trade for players that fit in quickly. They seem to have some good prospects develop and contribute. But what separates them from the Wild is that they have a deeper core of good two-way players. Their model might be better if the Wild were in a maintanace mode rather than a building mode.


Last edited by DWP: 01-24-2004 at 02:05 PM.
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Old
01-24-2004, 06:10 PM
  #7
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Patrick O'Sullivan
Josh Harding

Those aren't great prospects? Then who is?

Oh and Jesus H. Christ, we are not trading Dupuis. This team has problems UP FRONT not in the back. You see the game last night? The reason we lost is because we couldn't get a FREAKING SHOT ON GOAL. So what your saying is, trade away a very good young player in Dupuis for another defensemen when our defensemen are doing okay and our front looks like crap? Wonderful.

 
Old
01-24-2004, 09:31 PM
  #8
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Quote:
To me, the Wild are at a crossroads. They do not have great prospects to look to keep them competitive immediately. How do they continue to stay in the playoff picture? Their systems game plan will always keep them in most games. So, they will always be in the fringe of being a playoff contender. Their current group of prospects would just ensure that. In order to make it to the next level, the Wild can go out and start signing big name players hoping that this helps. Or they can really concentrate on the future. Basically struggle like they are for a couple of years and scouting their tails off trying to get some advantage. Also, the Wild can trade players with some value for younger guys that might build up that talent level of solid two-way players
I pretty much agree with this whole paragraph. It seems the Wild are having a hard time deciding in which direction they want to head. I was wondering to myself if the reason the Wild are holding off on these decisons is the next CBA coming up at the end of the season.

STK, To me, they are very good prospects. Great, that might be stretching things. I have high hopes for both of them. Harding has atleast 2 years of minor league duty before he will be ready for backup duty. It would be highly unlikely that Harding would play in the minors then become the starter. Of course, all of this is based on the opionion that Harding would infact become the player we hope him to be. O'Sullivan looks like he's going to be our first legitimate goal scorer. Is he a Rick Nash type prospect? No. This is the kind of prospects we're really lacking IMO. The chances of us getting anyone like him are slim without having some pretty terrible seasons. This being said, I don't forsee the Wild struggling that badly or "tanking" a few seasons.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens with the remainder of the season.

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01-26-2004, 06:37 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thestonedkoala
DWP:

Patrick O'Sullivan
Josh Harding

Those aren't great prospects? Then who is?

Oh and Jesus H. Christ, we are not trading Dupuis.

So what your saying is, trade away a very good young player in Dupuis for another defensemen when our defensemen are doing okay and our front looks like crap? Wonderful.
What started our little give and take was the position I took that the Wild aren't where they need to be if they are going to be an organization that is dependent on developing talent from within. You may argue that point or you may make a point that the Wild should not stress internal development, but I frankly can't tell which side of the fence you are on.

Regarding Dupuis, If you go back to the original post (carried over to this thread) that started our discourse, I was responding to a point as to what the Wild might get if they were to trade Dupuis. I don't think I ever advocated trading Dupuis. The assumption was that he was trade bait.

In fact, I actually agree with you that the Wild are lacking offensively. That is their biggest weakness. Trading Dupuis for defensive help would not help the Wild in an immediate sense. I didn't make it clear, but I was assuming that we were talking about what the Wild might do if they were in a situation where the season was lost. Therefore, I see where you might be frustrated. For that, I apologize that I wasn't more concise. So, to be more definitive, if the Wild were to go another 15 games or so and fall out of serious contention for the playoffs, and some other teams trying to boost themselves up were looking for some help offensively, then Dupuis might be someone others could be interested in. In that case, I think my scenario would not be a bad way to go.

If the Wild were to make a trade, what do they have to trade? Where are they strong? But most importantly, where do they have excess talent that might interest other teams? I say you pick a position, and you will have the same answer. The only possible exception I can think of is at goalie.

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01-27-2004, 04:01 PM
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After watching last night's game vs. the Kings, I can think of one way defensemen could help the offense, which would be the ability to make proper breakout passes. Kuba can do this, as can Schultz, but mainly what we get from our defensive corps is to chip the puck up the boards and hope some there will be able to get it. More often than not it ends up on an opponent''s stick, and comes right back in the Wild zone. A good d-man can jump-start the offense with a good breakout pass, which the Wild forwards rarely receive.

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01-27-2004, 06:04 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookman
After watching last night's game vs. the Kings, I can think of one way defensemen could help the offense, which would be the ability to make proper breakout passes. Kuba can do this, as can Schultz, but mainly what we get from our defensive corps is to chip the puck up the boards and hope some there will be able to get it.
Bookman,

Watching center-ice gives you a unique perspective. I try to watch as many Wild games as possible. So, by watching center-ice, your getting the Wild TV feed sometimes and the opponent's TV feed sometimes. The commentators from the opposition often have unique perspectives and comments about the Wild.

The pregame comments made by the San Jose commentators dealt with your subject. They made a comment about how the Wild, as a group of defensemen, do not mess around with the puck in the defensive zone. They said the Wild tend to do whatever it takes to quickly get the puck out of the defensive zone and let the forwards catch up to the puck move it up through the neutral zone. The implication was that this was a strategy employed by Lemaire and not meant to be a slam on the Wild defensive core and their inability to move the puck up the ice.

Anyways, I'm not sure which of these explainations is more accurate. Perhaps it's a little of both. Any thoughts?

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01-27-2004, 06:39 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWP
Anyways, I'm not sure which of these explainations is more accurate. Perhaps it's a little of both. Any thoughts?

I have some thoughts. I think it's both. If we had some really great puck-movers I still think you'd see the "get it out of the zone quickly" attitude, because I think our game should be about speed on the attack and quick transitions (I like that, anyway.. I think it's fun to watch). However, with some improvement in the breakout-pass area we wouldn't see the "let the forwards catch up" part so much. One thing I've noticed and liked about Michalek is that he seems to pass the puck really well. Catches guys in stride and on the tape, and it seems like he can get rid of the puck pretty quickly. A lot of our guys like to take a couple of breaths before shooting that pass out, and that usually is enough time for the other team to take away the passing lanes. Then you see that ugly little chip up the boards, or the pass to the guy standing still at the red line who then tries to chip it to a rushing forward, which almost never seems to work. Whoa, rambling. Anyway, I think both points are valid. We want to move the puck out of the zone as quickly as possible. Until we get more guys that can pass nicely, the chip shots off the boards are going to be pretty common.

All just my take on things, of course.

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