It was Risebrough that did all those deals in the summer to supposedly "upgrade" the team. And it was an upgrade. No doubt.
But it was a short-term upgrade.
At the beginning of the season, all those skilled players and the goalie were fresh. Now as it turns out, you still have to be able to withstand all the bumps and bruises of an entire season in order to be successful... "New NHL" or not.
Demitra: 35gp 11g 16a 27pts 20pim -8: Pretty big disappointment. Better shape up quick now that Gabby is back.
Mark Parrish: 43gp 14g 11a 25pts 10pim -1: On pace for what he does every season. So not bad... But now he's hurt.
Petteri Nummelin: 33gp 2g 10a 12pts 12pim -16: Pretty much a bonus that he was able to put points up early. But as the season goes on, his softness on the puck is catching up to him.
Kim Johnsson: 43gp 2g 10a 12pts 38pim -7: Very big disappointment. His production has halved. And again... too light on the puck.
Branko Radio: 43gp 5g 6a 11pts 8pim -12: Doing about as much as expected. Would be better suited in the SEL, not the NHL.
Old players on new clubs:
Patrick O'Sullivan: AHL stats 31gp 13g 13a 26pts 8pim +6: Time will tell wether-or-not he can transfer his AHL success to the NHL. If he does, then the Demitra trade looks even worse. But that's hindsight for ya.
Randy Robitaille: 38gp 5g 14a 19pts 24pim -5: Not entirely missed. Played in Philly... 'nuff said.
Marc Chouinard: 31gp 1g 2a 3pts 6pim -2: Again. Not missed. But a decent PK'er in Vancouver.
Alex Daigle: Hahaha. Yeah right. SEE ya!
Filip Kuba: 44gp 7g 19a 26pts 16pim 0: Here's a guy that might be missed. He plays pretty solid minutes while still greatly outscoring all current Wild d-men. Whoops.
Andrei Zyuzin: 25gp 0g 2a 2pts 22pim +2: Decent minutes in a supporting role in Calgary.
Dan Tjarnqvist: 36gp 3g 12a 15pts 28pim +2: One of Edmonton's steadiest d-men. Who knew?
Willie Mitchell: 34gp 0g 3a 3pts 14pim -7: An example of how having a steady shutdown defensive defenseman is really underrated. Sure, he's 3.5mil. But if he can effectively shut down Jarome Iginla on a game-to-game basis, he sure is worth the bucks. Whoops.
Dwayne Roloson: Well, whatever. So he went to the finals. Big deal. It was simply not possible to keep him anymore.
Overall: Risebrough added more offense and salary. But sacrificed far too much defense and toughness.
In a perfect world, he definately would have kept Kuba and Mitchell, but instead he chose to appease his so-called "franchise player" Gaborik by signing buddy-buddy Pavol Demitra. (That's just my view... If it's wrong, so what.)
Maybe in hindsight it would've been wiser to dump Gaborik for a real franchise player.
Interesting Analysis. I have also been thinking on the question of "Did we really upgrade"?
I especially agree with your take on the upgrade of Kim Johnsson from Kuba.
Johnsson does appear to have some extraordinary skating agility. But, he has not been been effective enough to justify his salary. He has had penalty problems. It seems he is too small and gets out of posistion too much before he finds himself reaching and hooking the on-rusher.
Kuba on the other hand is slower on his feet, but he was stronger on the puck and good at sending out the long stretch pass which the Wild like to do.
.... I don't agree with the implication that Gaborik is not a real franchise player.
As a season ticket holder since the start Gaborik is the biggest reason that keeps me upgrading. In the first two years we had a very boring Lemaire style team. But, Gaborik brought excitement and the anticipation of watching him explode up the ice for a break-away kept you on the edge of your seat.
Franchise players are the sum of more that just their statistics.
My feelings lately are that Gaborik has superstar talent, but not superstar heart. Yea, I am a little biased because he has been injured most of the season but he reminds me of many other players that have HOF careers but never hoist the cup. And we are building our team around him. I just question whether or not the Demitra trade was really worth it. Don't get me wrong, Demitra is great and O'Sullivan is unproven but as of today, Demitra+Gaborik haven't shown that the trade was worth it. I suppose some will say that Gaborik has been hurt so we (I) haven't given them a fair chance, but injuries are a part of the game, and Gaborik is beginning to have the reputation of an annually injured superstar, at a very young age. Yes, he had a great playoff run in 02-03, so hopefully that history, rather than his injury history, proves me wrong.
As far as the other additions are concerned, I agree with most of them. Johnsson has been a disappointment thus far considering the amount of money spent. However, he is much better at making an outlet pass than Kuba. Kuba turned the puck over much more often. The only thing I give Kuba over Johnsson is their PK ability.
At first, I was worried about Parrish. I know he has a reputation of being streaky but the first two months really worried me. I absolutely love his willingness to go to the front of the net.
Nummelin seemed to be a suprise early on like other posters mentioned. But now he's hurt.
We do need a player like Mitchell. I very rarely see anyone slash or face wash opposing forwards when they crash Manny or Backstrom. I know the players try their best most games, but they need to let other teams know they aren't going to take defeat lightly.
I love Lemaire and think he has unrivaled knowledge of the game, but I am beginning to wonder whether or not his teaching style is effective for the Wild. He is unmatched in his ability to coach two-way players but I don't think his defensive style is going to really let Gaborik or Bouchard break out. On the other hand, guys like James Sheppard, Cal Clutterbuck, and Danny Irmen would be molded into great players like Lemaire.
All in all, I feel pretty frustrated as a Wild fan. I was never one who cried for more salary but I did want management to spend some money on UFAs. I just hope something changes for the better sometime soon.
Sorry for the rambling. I typed this at work and don't feel like fixing it, hehe.
I am also disappointed in Kim Johnsson's play. Early on I attributed it to rust and switching teams. Despite his overall poor showing, we've never had a D-man this talented. Lemaire, Tremblay and Ramsey can improve ANY D-man's game, so sooner or later, Kim will start bringing his A game. I hope he finds it before February.
While Demitra's also been a disappointment, he's also had the biggest adjustment to make. He's played on 3 lines over his career ... 8 guys. He's not as adjustable as say ... Rolston. However, we've never traded for someone this good. I think he's found his A game since his injury and now with Gabbie back, he'll make this a decent season overall after a great second half.
Nobody's mentioned Martin Skoula. We picked him up at the trading deadline last March, but he is a recent acquisition. The guy makes me nervous when he has the puck, but he's been playing pretty decently lately.
I think Burnsie's playing great. He's hitting everything that moves. I just wish we'd paired him with Carney from the start of the season.
Foster was a waiver pickup.
I was worried that Nummelin was going to be minus 100 in his first season. While I was impressed with his dangle and passing, he doesn't have the grit to handle large forwards. He should be on PP duty only or paired with Carney.
I'm glad we got rid of Kuba. He'd lost the ability to get his point shots on net. I think that only a change of scenery allowed him to get his game back.
I'm glad Parrish finally hit a goal-scoring patch, I'm bummed he got hurt. I hope he gets on a streak come playoffs.
Radio - Irmen could do what Radio isn't doing. I never thought he looked all that big and he certainly doesn't play that big.
I was always a big fan of Mitchell. Losing him was a bummer, but that's how it goes. Hopefully, Burns can bring the goofy grin, hard hits and face washes that Mitchell was famous for. We've got plenty of other players to provide the leadership we lost when we traded Willie.
Gabbie is still undoubtedly, the franchise player. Furthermore, he's also our talisman. As Gabbie goes, so does the Wild.