Posts Tagged ‘Cody Almond’
Earlier today, Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune posted what will be the Wild’s depth chart if it starts the season with the way the roster is now:
Kim Johnsson-Brent Burns
Nick Schultz-Marek Zidlicky
Greg Zanon-Shane Hnidy
John Scott-Jaime Sifers
Tyler Cuma-Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner-Jamie Fraser
Marco Scandella-Maxim Noreau
Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Martin Havlat
Owen Nolan-James Sheppard-Pierre-Marc Bouchard (RW until training camp)
Antti Miettinen-Eric Belanger-Cal Clutterbuck
Colton Gillies-Kyle Brodziak-Derek Boogaard
Petr Kalus-Benoit Pouliot-Craig Weller
Robbie Earl-Morten Madsen-Danny Irmen
Matt Kassian-Cody Almond-Carson McMillan
First of all, if you haven’t checked out Mike Russo’s blog and you’re a Wild fan, shame on you. It’s one of the best resources for all things Wild out there. Click here to go there. Bookmark it, scour it daily and above all thank him for his amazing coverage of the Wild!
Anyway, off my soapbox for the moment.
Looking at this depth chart, the thing that immediately jumps out at me is not the center position. A lot has been made of our depth (or lack thereof) down the middle. In looking at the team, however, we’ve got five potential pivots on our roster, and that’s not including Colton Gillies, Owen Nolan or Benoit Pouliot. Throw those two into the mix and we could have as many as eight players on the opening day that could be capable of anchoring a line in the middle.
The thing that really jumps out at me is our lack of depth at left wing. After Nolan, Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen, the talent level really drops off. This isn’t a knock on Gillies; however, we have a serious lack of skill and depth on the left side and, honestly, on the wing in general.
To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, is our talent on defense and in nets. Our top-six defensemen could be the best top-six that the team has had. The additions of Zanon and Hnidy give the team two reliable, physical anchors on the blueline and will force opposing teams to keep their heads up. Meanwhile, expect Scott and Sifers to compete for the seventh spot in camp, most likely with Scott winning the battle. That’s not to say, however, that our youth could not come in and surprise. With Cuma, Falk, Stoner and Scandella in the wings, there is a good chance that Scott and Sifers may not be foregone conclusions at the 7 and 8 slot. It will take a lot for any of these four to make the squad, however. Of the four, Stoner probably has the best shot as this could be his make it or break it year, but make no mistake — the Wild’s top 7 are pretty much set.
Olvecky Signs in Nashville
Joel Ward, Ryan Jones and now Olvecky? Those Tennessee boys sure do like Wild prospects.
In all honesty, I think that Olvecky has a fantastic chance to make the Nashville squad next season right out of camp. Olvecky is a big body with a lot of untapped talent to boot, and he performed admirably for the Wild in a limited role with the team in the handful of games he played for us last season.
He really started to come into his own last season and seems like he could be the type of player that Barry Trotz will really love. For $600K and a two-way contract, I’d take Olvecky any day of the week. A good depth pick up by the Preds.
Qualifying Offers Signed
The Wild had a few players of their own signed as well.
Restricted free agents Benoit Pouliot, Clayton Stoner, Danny Irmen and Robbie Earl all signed their qualifying offers and it seems as if the lot of them (with the exception of Pouliot) could see another year playing in the minors. Earl and Irmen both have too many players in front of them to have a shot at making the squad (that is, barring a spectacular camp from either) and Stoner will have to do some serious damage in camp to work his way up the depth chart.
Injuries do happen, though, and we could very easily see one of them get a cup of coffee in the NHL and do what Cal Clutterbuck did last season and not let go.
In addition, Russo reports that the Wild could be close to signing Duncan Milroy and Joe DiSalvatore to plug some holes in their minor league system.
Fletcher Working Trade Market
There are a lot of people who are getting scared by the Wild’s seeming lack of movement this off season.
Those fans are the Chicken Littles of the fanbase.
While there are some quality players out there, there really aren’t any players that would meet any immediate needs for us. I mentioned Mats Sundin, Robert Lang and Mike Comrie previously, but Sundin likely doesn’t have much more tread on his tires, Lang is rumored (or already has) to jump ship to the KHL and Comrie, well, let’s just say I don’t want to sign a player for his girlfriend. In addition to those players, there are players such as Alex Tanguay and Petr Sykora left over. Undoubtedly, these players could make an impact on the Wild roster, but would they really fit?
In the case of Tanguay, he’s a tremendous talent, but he’s also been pigeonholed as a playmaker — of which, the Wild have many. Sykora would be a cheap, effective sniper, but do the Wild want to sink the money it would take to get him on an aging player?
Bottom line is that the best route for the team to improve, at this point, is the route that Fletcher is taking — trades.
There are many top flight forwards that have been presumed available via trade. Phil Kessel of the Boston Bruins, Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators, Jonathan Cheechoo of the San Jose Sharks, even Chicago’s Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane have always been rumored to be available.
To be honest, the names remaining in free agency don’t even hold a candle to a lot of these names. I’d much rather have a Kessel, Heatley, Sharp or Kane over any of those available — regardless of the assets we have to give up for them.
The bottom line is that the Wild are far from done, in my opinion. But Fletcher has said all along that he’s not afraid to go late into the summer with a less than full roster to give himself the flexibility that he needs to get the players it takes to make this a winning team.
Fear not Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. With a little patience, we could have a playoff team yet.
SI has recently posted a list of the NHL’s “Most Rugged” players and one of Wild Nation’s personal favorite hockey blogs, Puck Daddy, has responded with their revised list, of which Wild winger Owen Nolan was one.
All of this got me thinking. The Wild has never really been the epitome of a “rugged” team, save for the playoffs two years ago when they had the Four Horsemen (Derek Boogaard, Aaron Voros, Todd Fedoruk and Chris Simon) on their roster. But last season, who could have been considered the Wild’s “Most Rugged” players? After some serious thought, here’s what I came up with:
5) Brent Burns – From his gap-toothed smile to his perpetual almost-beard, rugged is certainly a word that is befitting of the Wild’s brightest star on the blueline. Burnsie does it all. He hits, he scores, he plays good defense; and let’s be honest. The man played the last six weeks of his season with a concussion. That’s rugged.
4) Stephane Veilleux – The reisdent red-headed stepchild of the Wild has always been one to mix it up with anyone at any time. He’s played through broken bones on his face on multiple occasions and is always front and center when the Wild’s checking line comes into the discussion. One of the best checking line players the Wild has had, Veilleux will try to cash in on this ruggedness this summer.
3) Cal Clutterbuck – The new face of the Wild’s checking line certainly put on a show this last season. Clutterbuck gained noteriety from his big hits, despite his small stature. Throw in another perpetual chin growth and you’ve got one rugged player. Besides…Anytime you anger Don Cherry to the point where he gives you a derogatory nickname, you must be doing something right.
2) Andrew Brunette – Truth be told, Brunette has never been known for his physical play, but he gets the nod over Clutterbuck here due to the fact that a) he looks like he’s one day of forgetting to shave away from joining Han Solo aboard the Millenium Falcon and b) he played the last three months of this season with a torn ACL. Now that’s rugged.
1) Owen Nolan – We’ve got to give the nod to the Wild’s resident badass on this one. You know a player commands fear and respect when he’s allowed to screen the goalie pretty much unimpeded, which Nolan did all season long. On top of that, he is the only player on the Wild’s team that is allowed to break the gameday dress code because, quite simply, no one wants to tell him that he can’t; not to mention that he penciled himself into the line up this season, coming back early from an injury. As Burns said about him in a session of Hockey Unplugged; you don’t want to mess with him. He could firebomb your car.
- Wild prospect Cody Almond is playing in the Memorial Cup with the Kelowna Rockets. Almond has been signed to an entry level deal and will play with the Aeros next season. Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune also pointed out that Almond takes nearly all of the big faceoffs for Kelowna, not to mention has got some great wheels on him and is a solid penalty killer. Almond was second in playoff scoring in the WHL with 27 points in 22 games.
- The search for the next GM of the Wild continues. For what it’s worth, my prediction for this is Pierre McGuire as GM and Pat Quinn as coach. Second interviews should be wrapping up shortly, however, and we may have a new GM as soon as next week.
- The Aeros avoided elminiation by downing the Manitoba Moose in OT, 5-4. The Aeros now trail 3-1 and will face elimination again in Game 5 in Houston.