The Minnesota Wild has officially reassigned rookie forward Brett Bulmer to Iowa of the American Hockey League.
In four games with the big club, Bulmer would notch an even plus-minus rating, two penalty minutes and six shots. After not playing an NHL game since the start of the 2011-12 season, Bulmer seemed to have rediscovered what made his original nine-game cup of coffee so successful–simply be a pain in the butt to play against, and he did it well.
The 6’4″ 212-pound 39th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft scored nine goals and three assists for 12 points in 21 games with the Baby Wild prior to receiving the call from Minnesota. In addition, three of his goals came on the power play. This isn’t the last the NHL will hear of the big, physical winger.
With Bulmer reassigned, one can only assume a return to the lineup is imminent for Wild second line center Mikael Granlund. When he does, it will likely be without Jason Pominville on his wing. For now, it appears head coach Mike Yeo is bent on helping the trio of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Pominville find chemistry on the team’s top line.
Each a very talented player in their own right, the trio has yet to really click and mesh together since Pominville was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at last season’s trade deadline. Together, Parise and Koivu have combined for 22 goals and 32 assists for 54 points in 37 games this season. Pominville is right behind with eight assists and a team-leading 16 goals for 24 points, three shy of a three-way tie with Parise and Koivu for first in total points on the team.
Granlund hasn’t officially been listed as good to go for Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers. However, it does appear very likely that he will be playing. If he does, he’ll still have some very good wingers on his line. With Pominville skating on the top line, that can only mean Minnesota will be rolling with a very special line made up of all 2010 first round draft picks. If that is the case, Granlund–the 9th overall pick that year–will center Nino Niederreiter (5th overall) and Charlie Coyle (28th overall), two very talented power forward/sniper-types that (in time) will be able to feast on assist after sweet assist from Minnesota’s top young playmaking specialist.
The Wild are struggling right now, no question. Minnesota has gone 5-4-1 in their past 10 games and has struggled mightily on the road with an abysmal 6-9-3 record away from home. Their top goaltender (arguably the league’s best this season) is on the shelf with MS medication issues, and their backup–the best goaltender in franchise history–can’t seem to win a game to save his life this season. None of Minnesota’s goalie prospects are ready to assume either a No. 1 or No. 2 role in St. Paul. But it all starts with a solid defense, constantly moving the puck north and finally being able to put the biscuit in the basket.
The Wild need to get back to the puck possession system that made them so great at the start of the season. The more control you have over the puck, the more opportunities become available to you. The more opportunities you receive, the more shots you’re able to put on net. The more shots on net you take, the more likely it is for a puck to get past the defense and the goalie and into the back of the net.
This isn’t something new to the sport of hockey. It’s not something new to Mike Yeo or his team. But it’s something Minnesota can’t seem to be able to do against the league’s more talented teams. Hopefully, with Granlund back, the Wild offense can get back to the basics of playing a successful brand of hockey and more goals will come. We can only hope.