Posted 09 July 2012 - 08:49 AM
I have lived in Minnesota for the last 9 years and actually have followed the Wild as a "2nd team", so I've seen and followed more of this team than most. This fan base is very knowledgeable about the sport of hockey, but extremely delusional and under-informed about the NHL (in my opinion). Jacque Lemaire and Doug Risebrough (former GM) did this fan base a great disservice by ushering in a boring trap style of hockey for years, which was especially ill-equipped to deal with the post-lockout style of play.
If the question is whether this Wild team scares me, the answer is "no", at least not any more than any other playoff contender in the West. After being the hottest team in the NHL through December, this team was TERRIBLE for the rest of the year. And they didn't even have a sufficient excuse. They entered last season with the lowest payroll on defense in the league ($14 million, IIRC) and they are still young, undersized, and lacking depth. They swapped Schultz for Gilbert, but neither of those guys are legitimate Top 2 defensemen. Suter obviously gives them a centerpiece, but keep in mind that virtually everything he did was with the assistance of Shea Weber playing next to him. Defensemen, like goaltenders, are extremely vulnerable to their situation, and while Suter is very good (and I wanted him on the Wings), I don't think he's a Pronger or Chara-like building block that can completely turn around a defense. We'll see.
The Wild are now up against the cap and have the most expensive forward corps in the NHL. That's unbelievable to me. The problem is that there are some pretty bad long-term contracts in there (Koivu $6.7 mil, Heatley $7.5 mil, PMB $4 mil). Heck, even $3 or $3.5 mil for Setoguchi and Cullen is a bit much for what you get. They get some more of those deals off the books next offseason, and Mikael Granlund is expected to be star quickly, but we haven't SEEN any of these young guys produce in the NHL yet.
I think you could fairly say that the Minnesota Wild are "better positioned for the future" than the Detroit Red Wings right now. But keep in mind that the Minnesota Wild have done nothing BUT position themselves for the future since Fletcher took over as GM, since they have failed to put a winning team on the ice during that time.
I think they could potentially be a team with a lot of firepower, but until they've established some kind (any kind) of track record, I wouldn't bet them against Detroit. Their defense is still garbage. Even with Suter, I don't think I would trade their unit for ours, and Detroit has obvious problems in that department.