With NHL training camps set to open this weekend, the world of fantasy hockey is again alive and well. With it comes projections of players and teams and how the experts think they will do in this upcoming, shortened season. Interestingly enough, the Minnesota Wild are slotted in the 20th position according to TSN.ca, a position that in my opinion is rather low.
Scott Cullen of TSN compiled the list and uses a rather confusing method to calculating the rankings that lists the teams from 1 to 30. Cullen rates the players on the team using a weighted formula to take into account statistics such as goals per game, assists per game, plus-minus, game winning goals, powerplay goals, shortanded goals and so on.
That player is then assigned a value between 55 and 100 along with his role on team taken into account with first line players getting more of the weight. The players rankings are then rolled up and a team evaluation is computed. And here we find the Wild at number 20.
When looking at the list, it’s hard to argue with the top five teams. In order they are, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blue and the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues could be a surprise at number four, but their future is bright given the youth they have on their club.
The Wild ranking I don’t agree with. Sitting way down at number 20 is weak in my opinion. If Cullen basis his rankings based on player statistics, surely Zach Parise and Ryan Suter alone would help boost the Wild’s credibility with their offensive prowess.
One could argue that the lack of secondary scoring and the unknowns of Mikael Granlund and Pierre-Marc Bouchard deter the Wild from being higher on the list.
Then again, the Detroit Red Wings sit at number 7 and they had a quiet offseason that saw them lose their leader in Niklas Lidstrom and power forward Thomas Holmstrom, both to retirement. The Wings failed to replace either of them with a big name free-agent, leaving many question marks surrounding the Wings and how they will perform this season. To sit in the top ten in my opinion is far to high for the Wings.
Other surprises are the New Jersey Devils at number 15 and the Dallas Stars at 14. The Devils, like the Red Wings lost a key piece to their team in Parise and failed to replace him or his offensive output. The Stars added 40-year old Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney and Derek Roy, but you can hardly say any of those three are offensive powerhouses anymore.
At the end of the day, the Wild deserve a better ranking, but that’s just my opinion. A top 15 would be adequate to start the season and anything after that will be based purely on the performance of the players as the season rolls along.
Maybe it’s best that many don’t predict the Wild to be as good as the fans truly believe they will be. An underdog/sleeper role would suit this team just fine, especially with the Canucks and Oilers making headlines for different reasons.
Of course this is just one man’s formula which leaves much room for debate and is hardly considered relevant data with it being one sample pool. The upside from the main stream media is that many have the Wild as one of the top three clubs that dramatically improved this off season. Why can’t Cullen appreciate that and give more credit where credit is due?
Time will tell and soon enough the numbers will speak for themselves when the Wild hit the ice. At that point it’s up to them and until then, we’ll just continue to speculate and debate.