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  • First Line Production and the Minnesota Wild: Part Deux


    Last week I published an article looking at what constitutes "first line production" in the modern NHL. There were a few problems with my methodology, not least of which were: including All-situation stats as well as looking at raw point totals, which is problematic as well.

    Now, just as a refresher- for the sake of argument, I took all the players in the NHL and took the top 30, sorted by points-per-60. The fastest-producing 30 are, by definition, the only 30 "first-liners" in the league. Numbers 31-60 become "second line" players, etc. etc. In order to avoid some oddball callups who had great games, I set the minimum 5v5 time on ice at 300 minutes.


    First Line Centers

    2.01-2.97 points per 60

    Not surprisingly, Minnesota has no centers who achieved at this range. In our center's defense, a player like Koivu makes his money defensively, rather than offensively. Still, Minnesota lacks a high-scoring center, and that's a hole that will need filling.


    First Line Left Wingers

    2.03-2.92 P/60


    First Line Right Wingers

    2.08-2.97 P/60


    Second Line Centers

    1.74-2 P/60


    Second Line Left Wingers

    1.74-2.01 P/60


    Second Line Right Wingers



    Third Line Centers

    1.55-1.73 P/60

    Again, Minnesota has two "third line" centers- Mikko Koivu and Ryan Carter. They produced points at a very similar 1.55 and 1.63 P/60 respectively. As stated above, this isn't necessarily the fairest evaluation; Mikko has made a name for himself as a defensive center, and Carter started in the defensive zone 22% more often than the team's average.


    Third Line Left Wingers

    1.48-1.73 P/60


    Third Line Right Wingers

    1.5-1.75 P/60

    Minnesota only had one player in this range, and that was Charlie Coyle. When he wasn't at center, Coyle was producing (at a slower rate) on the wing, though his 1.74 P/60 fell very near the cutoff for a 2nd-line player.


    Final Thoughts

    I'll be honest: when I first went back and started rewriting this article, I didn't think there would be significant changes. There were more than I anticipated, with Nino falling in terms of his evaluation (sob), but Fontaine skyrocketing to being the best player in his position in terms of point production.

    We all know Parise plays with the best players on the Wild; that is going to raise his scoring. Similarly, we all know Nino gets bounced around like a hackey sack at a hippy convention, which will slow his scoring. This effect isn't enough to render points/60 useless, but it's a caveat to think about.

    Now that I'm done covering my cyber-backside...

    I think we've pretty well cemented that Minnesota needs a higher-producing center, not that that's news. The depth on the wings is not just good, it is great, with five separate wingers producing at a first- or second-line level. Unfortunately, that also means that our younger wingers are going to need to fight to find meaningful playing time. Still, Minnesota's wing depth is excellent, which could serve to free Chuck Fletcher to find a top-line center, if one is available for the right price.




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