Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Minnesota Wild
As I have for the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Not much, really. Maybe addition through subtraction. When Cooke decided to stop being a dick, then his use pretty much went out the window. So he's gone. And Ballard's skills eroded very quickly, a long time ago. So he's gone. Brodziak was a pretty good depth guy, but he's replaceable. Stewart's departure just means more ice time for Jason Zucker.
Maybe the only tangible impact from a new player is Reilly, who is a highly talented defenseman and who chose not to sign with the team that drafted him (Columbus) coming out of college so that he could sign with his hometown team. He's probably going to play in the minors for at least half a season. But if not, then he'd be pushing Christian Folin for ice time, which of course would hurt Folin owners (both of them).
Ready for full-time – Reilly, as I noted above, is probably going to spend at least a half a season in Iowa. His main talent is moving the puck – and between Matt Dumba and Ryan Suter, the Wild are already covered.
Michael Keranen was an undrafted Swede who dominated the Finnish pro league in 2013-14, leading to the Wild signing him. His debut in the AHL last season had mixed results. Offensively he was okay, but defensively he left something to be desired. A strong start to this season could lead to some cups of coffee with the big club.
Kurtis Gabriel is a 6-4, 218-pound prospect who racked up 125 PIM in just 67 games for Iowa. He was a third-round pick (81st overall) in 2013, so team brass definitely has a plan for him. Now that he's played a full NHL season, I would think that he would get called up for short stints throughout the 2015-16 season. Pretty much whenever the team needs a tough guy.
Fantasy Outlook – The Wild were 12th in league scoring last season, but the distribution of points remind me of the Nashville Predators of old. Just one player with more than 55 points, and eight players with between 35 and 54 points. That's not good for fantasy hockey. But between Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund, there is still some hope for 65-point players here. The prospects pipeline is definitely below average, with really just Reilly, Alex Tuch, Joel Eriksson Ek and maybe Tyler Graovac as the only prospects worth raising an eyebrow over.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B+)