Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Minnesota Wild
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. 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 – Character guys, depth defensemen, checking-line forwards, depth goaltenders. In the world of fantasy hockey, we’re still waiting for Minnesota’s offseason to start. The Wild have very little cap room and they pretty much have to spend it all on restricted free agent Jason Zucker, who is coming off the season of his life (33 goals, 64 points) at just the right time. This is the team that you saw last year, other than the fact that Nino Niederreiter is no longer playing on a partially-healed leg and ankle. That helps, but not ‘Stanley Cup’ helps.
Ready for full-time – Jordan Greenway is one of the best prospects in hockey and has the potential to become a game-breaking power forward. But what do we know about power forwards? Well, generally speaking they take several years to reach their potential. The 6-6, 226-pound Greenway could eventually become a 70-point, 120-PIM forward, but that’s not happening this season. He may do the 120-PIM thing but I’d be pretty surprised if he reached the 45-point mark in his rookie campaign. Still, he is NHL ready and upgrades Minnesota’s top nine. (Read Greenway’s scouting report here)
Luke Kunin is a future captain of this team, mark my words. A born leader and solid two-way player, he’s ready to take the next step. For fantasy purposes, his upside isn’t huge – perhaps something along the lines of what Jonathan Toews is doing right now. But if he can stick with the Wild full-time this year he will definitely add to the dressing room. (Read Kunin's scouting report here)
Defenseman Nick Seeler was up with the team to end the season and he earned his way into all five playoff games, seeing increasing ice time. He can help fantasy leagues with the physical categories (PIM and Hits), but his points potential is limited. (Read Seeler's scouting report here)
Defenseman Ryan Murphy may finally be ready. He was up with the team in the final three weeks of the season and even got into a playoff game. The now-25-year-old was once a highly-touted offensive rearguard. He had 28 points in 48 AHL games, and arguably had his best season there yet. This will be his last true kick at the can because once a prospect turns 26 you rarely see them get a shot. At best, however, he’s a power-play specialist used on the second unit and given minimal ES ice time. Barely 50-50 that he makes the team as the No.7 or No.8 guy.
Minnesota Wild prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Wild were 11th in goals scored in the league in 2017-18. They have a couple of surefire prospects with decent upside who should make the jump very soon (noted above), and they also have three intriguing prospects who are several years away and may not pan out at all, but have great upside (Mason Shaw, Kirill Kaprizov, Dmitry Sokolov). The pipeline for defensemen and goaltending isn’t great, but they have very good fantasy assets in those positions already on the NHL roster. I think Matt Dumba could be a 60-point defenseman as early as this very season.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B-)
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