Yesterday you all saw part one of Blueshirt Banter's Q&A with Hockey Wilderness. Well, we're back at it today for the final three questions I sent Bryan's way so that we can get to know the Minnesota Wild a little bit better.
Below the jump you will find my questions in bold and Bryan's answers underneath.
My answers to his questions will go live sometime this afternoon over at Hockey Wilderness, so make sure to head over there sometime around Noon to see my answers to his questions.
Anyway, join me below the jump! It's exciting!
4. The pipeline here is unlike it has ever been. Mikael Granlund will step directly into the NHL, with Charlie Coyle right on his heels. Zach Phillips, Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson and Brett Bulmer are all certainly headed for Houston, but are all also very close to being NHL ready. That gives the Wild some solid depth at the forward ranks for the first time in team history, should they all develop properly. They also have guys like Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba coming up the defensive ranks, one of the organization's biggest weaknesses. In net, they have an embarrassment of wealth with Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafssson all looking like blue chippers as well.
The Wild have prospects to the point that they are rated in the top five by nearly everyone who ranks prospects. Chuck Fletcher's team, headed by Brent Flahr, has drafted well in nearly every round, even pulling guys like Eric Haula in the seventh round. The pipeline for the Wild is exciting, to be sure.
5. Expectations here are for the Wild to make the playoffs, potentially make some noise, but not to be contenders. There are conflicting explanations for why the Wild fell apart last year. Some say it was "underlying numbers," others suggest that it was simple regression. The fact of the matter is, the Wild had zero depth, and when the inevitable rash of injuries hit, they went from Mikko Koivu on the top line to Warren Peters, and from Niklas Backstrom in goal to Paul Deutsch. Five of the top 6 were hurt for extended stretches, many of them at the same time. The defense, while young, was playing somewhat well, and then hit their own injury bug.
Adding one elite goal scorer and a top pairing, elite defenseman is going to be huge for the Wild. Scoring more and stopping more goals should result in wins. That said, the addition of depth with Zenon Konopka & Torrey Mitchell to an already strong bottom six will make the Wild much more difficult to play against. Add that to the depth discussed in question 4, and the Wild should have the pieces to withstand the injury bug a little better.
6. As mentioned above, no I don't. Anything is possible, but they are still missing some pieces of defense, another true first liner (Dany Heatley is not that man), and some secondary scoring. They have all of those things in the prospect ranks, but they aren't there just yet. The hope has to be for the prospects to come into their games, and their primes, before Parise & Suter get too far past theirs. This possibility has Wild fans' mouths drooling at what could happen.
This year contenders? Not a chance. Two or three years from now? Could be a possibility.