As of today, the Minnesota Wild has the 18th ranked power play at 17.1%. How they’ve managed to accomplish that with an entirely left-handed top unit, I don’t know. In general, the Wild have a real solid group on the top unit—Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. However, what the unit is lacking is a power play quarterback that also isn’t afraid to blast one from the left point. Not taking anything away from Suter—he does a great job cycling the puck down to the forwards or wristing a shot through traffic to the front of the net—Minnesota needs a big shot to complete the unit, and Bouchard isn’t the solution on the left point.
While the problem isn’t necessarily the shot from the point, it’s when the point-man moves down below the circles to either snap a shot or make a quick pass to a guy that can. We’ve seen it time and time again this season—Bouchard will be there just to the right of the goaltender, waiting patiently with expert puck-handling skills, looking to either back hand it into the back of the net or pass it to Heatley camped in front of the net or one of Koivu or Parise on the other side. And so the power play and penalty kill units square off, while the seconds tick off the clock. I wouldn’t exactly call it an effective use of the man advantage.
Saturday night against Nashville, Minnesota got a lucky break via a faceoff violation by the Predators late in overtime. Devin Setoguchi, the subject of many trade rumors this season, was finally able to score his first goal of the season with a quick snap shot that just beat goaltender Chris Mason to the post. The beautiful thing about it, aside from the fact that it was the game-winner, is that it came from a right-handed shot. While most Wild fans would probably agree that 2012 7th overall pick Mathew Dumba is the likely long-term solution on the point, in the meantime, Setoguchi is an intriguing option, as well.
Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks back in 2005, Seto has struggled since being traded to Minnesota. Devin has been shuffled back and forth between the second and fourth lines this season, but a spot on the point on the No. 1 power play unit would be a welcome change in scenery. It is also one that I think is worth a shot and here’s why. Setoguchi is a proven goal scorer, there’s a reason Minnesota traded for him—he knows how to pot goals in good numbers. A spot on the power play point not only boosts his confidence in himself and his play, but also gives him room to unleash his big and accurate shot. It also gives Minnesota the advantage when he goes down below the circles because it’s a lot easier to pick a corner on the forehand than on the backhand.
If Setoguchi doesn’t work out, it doesn’t hurt to give rookie Charlie Coyle a shot, either. As you can see from the video below, he’s no stranger when it comes to sniping one past a goaltender.
The point is, while Minnesota’s power play has been okay this season, it would certainly be to their benefit having a right-shot skater on the left point. In this hockey writer’s opinion, Devin Setoguchi is that man until they find someone better. There’s no doubt that such a move would certainly boost his production and, if nothing else, it’s the perfect way to shop him around to potential trading partners.