Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Minnesota Wild
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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 – From a fantasy standpoint, adding Zuccarello is obviously an upgrade to the top six. He’ll line up with either Eric Staal and Jason Zucker on the first line, or with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise on the second line. Either way, it knocks Ryan Donato out of the top six and takes PP time from both Donato and Jordan Greenway.
From a hockey standpoint, what the hell is Minnesota doing? Rebuilding? Not rebuilding? A little bit of the latter this week, and a little bit of the former next week? Guerin needs to put his mark on this team and quickly. Choose a direction and stick with it. They seemed to be on the rebuild track when they traded away Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, acquiring Donato and Kevin Fiala. Then they sign a 32-year-old for five years? The team now has three players signed for five or six years – and Zuccarello is the youngest of those three. Ouch.
Ready for full-time – For a “rebuilding” team, the Wild aren’t really rebuilding in terms of opportunities up for grabs for the prospects. Donato, Greenway and Luke Kunin are already a part of things, but the list on the next wave is a small one.
Nico Sturm is a big, strong forward who is very strong defensively. He posted very good numbers in college (82 points in his last 79 games with Clarkson), but his future in the NHL lies on the third or fourth line as a checker with a bit of upside. The Wild have him earmarked for that very role, although because he hasn’t been doing well at the faceoff circle he may start off his career on the wing.
Defenseman Louie Belpedio made a solid transition to pro hockey last year and appears to be NHL-ready. He has pretty good upside as a second pairing guy who can contribute on the power play. That being said, because he’s a right-handed shot and so his Mathew Dumba and Jared Spurgeon, Belpedio will have to wait in line for any decent PP time. (More on Belpedio here)
Minnesota Wild prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Thankfully, outgoing GM Paul Fenton did not lose the rights to top prospect Kirill Kaprizov. Had he done that, things would be looking grim for Minnesota’s future. Kaprizov alone could have a Johnny Gaudreau-type of impact on the team. With the best players on this team on the downside of their careers, the future still isn’t bright. Staal, Koivu, Parise, Ryan Suter and goaltender Devan Dubnyk are all 33 years old or older, making 32-year-old Zuccarello the new kid in town. They need Fiala, Donato, Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Kunin to pan out or things will get worse before they get better.
Fantasy Grade: C- (last year was B)
Pick up the 14th annual DobberHockey Fantasy Hockey Guide
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