Laying more eggs than a poultry operation, Wild back out of playoff contention
It's true, blogosphere. You really won't have the Minnesota Wild to kick around this spring in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They'll all be out on golf courses across North America, enjoying the sun, thinking 'what might have been', had they just gone out in March and played like they actually wanted to be participating in the NHL's post-season. Because, with 10 games left in the season of 2010-2011, this team has spit the bit more than a $10 claimer at the horse track.
Since we last got together, the Wild have been outscored 12-8 in losing three straight (two in regulation) to Vancouver, San Jose and the previously-thought-hapless Columbus Blue Jackets. After yesterday's embarrassing 5-4 OT loss at home, however, the Wild are no better than some of the NHL's worst, as their 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games would imply. In fact, that embarrassing record is the second-worst in the League, only ahead of the already-imploded Colorado Avalanche, who wrote the season off weeks ago. Even the Edmonton Oilers, the team who everyone saw as two easy points thru most of the season, are better than the Wild as the season wanes.
Yes, the Wild need scoring. Desperately. Their lack of offensive punch is something the team's management and staff will have to address throughout the off-season. As cash-strapped against the cap as the Wild are, however, some familiar names on the current Wild roster will have to pack up and move on come the summertime.
A lot of people are targeting the Wild's top two defensemen, Brent Burns and Nick Schultz, as candidates for relocation in the summer of 2011. But, as valuable an asset that these two are together, might it be better for the success of the club, long-term, to break them up and get some offense in to take the pressure off them this summer?
The obvious answer is to not sign any of your unrestricted free agents this summer, namely forwards Antti Miettinen, Chuck Kobasew, and Andrew Brunette, goaltender Josh Harding, and the ultimate first-round-bust, James Sheppard. These five players must be shown the door (you could bring Brunette back if the price is right, tho) in no uncertain terms. Cam Barker must find a new home.
The roster must be overhauled. NOW. This off-season. The current make-up of the Wild roster is unworkable, as this team has lost its' way so bad, they'll never see the forest for the trees. Their 1-7-2 record so far this season against the bottom eight teams in the Eastern Conference, is proof positive that the Wild are just like every other Minnesota sports team; that is, they play up -- or, down -- to the level of their opposition (except, of course, when they face Detroit or Dallas, where they almost always lose).
So, while the rest of the NHL goes onto the post-season, the Wild get ready for the next thing on the team's agenda: tee times.
Because, for this bunch of turkeys, the season is indeed over.