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  • Minnesota Wild Final Season Grades: Left Wingers


    Look for the forwards this week, the blue line and goalies next week, and the brass the week after that. We tried to group each player into the position they played the most for the Wild this season, and not necessarily what position NHL.com or hockeydb has them listed as.

    Today, we start with the left wingers. JS wanted it noted that this season, he's going to be VERY HARD on grades. Whatever that is suppose to mean.

    Bryan- Parise is everything he was billed to be, and more. Watching a guy a few times a year, and hearing the stories just doesn't do justice sometimes. Parise is a prime example. Fans are paying hard earned money just to watch him play, and it makes perfect sense. This is the first time since Gaborik left that the Wild have a true personality at forward. Hard on the puck all the time, never says quit, never gives up... the guy is a machine. A-

    Dan- He was everything he was advertised to be. He led the team in regular season scoring and worked his ass off almost every single night. But grades goes down but he was absolutely snuffed out during the playoffs. Not all his fault, the team just sucks at scoring goals, but we really needed him to step up which he just couldn't. B+

    Emilie- The only thing you can say is that this guy is a workhorse. Yes, it would have been nice for him to produce more at the end of the year than he did, but it is very easy to forget all of the great things he did throughout the year and only focus on the end of the season. Parise had the never quit, keep pushing, playing above his size attitude that Wild fans have been craving for years. A-

    Fact of the matter is he still had a very good season by usual Wild standards, but he's being paid to do more than that and linemates are no excuse. At least the effort is there, and it's hard to fault him on that, but we'll still need more from him. We need that gamebreaking ability the Wild have never had since Marian Gaborik's departure. C+

    Bryan- Heaters gonna... well... get shut off, I guess. Heatley had a decent season going, even though his numbers continue to decline. He is slower than he was before, which is remarkable, and just doesn't have the ability to keep up with what the Wild were trying to do this season. It's a speed game now, and Heatley just isn't in it. Still, he took his demotion in stride, and continued to produce on the power play. His presence there was sorely missed as the season wound down, and into the playoffs. That reason alone saves his grade. C+

    Dan- You could watch the sunset at the speed he skated. Look, he has a great shot, he works hard and is a decent all-round player. But he has a huge 7.5 million dollar cap hit that extends to next season and he drags down any line he's on. Still, he managed to produce some secondary scoring so I'll give him a generous grade. C

    Emilie- Heatley is a tough person to grade. He's slowed down remarkably, and frankly when he wasn't injured he was one of the biggest liabilities in the defensive zone on the team. But at the same time you can't deny that he has a nose for the net, and point production for the Wild took a dive as soon as he was injured. His contract plays a heavy role in his grade, because as great as he can be, he isn't worth the price of his contract B-

    Bryan- For some reason, people really don't like Rupp. When Konopka got hurt, and the fans needed a scapegoat, apparently the only one that they felt could be ripped on without anger from other fans was Rupp. Complaints about dumb penalties and slow play didn't seem to fit what I saw on the ice, as Rupp was a difference maker, in favor of the Wild,more times than he wasn't. He plays a strong defensive game, and no, is not the fastest guy on the ice. I'm really not sure what people expect from the fourth line guys, but whatever it is... it's never going to happen. Take this offseason to reassess. B

    Dan- When he's on, he can carry the entire fourth line forecheck by himself. When he's off, he is actually a liability. In a shorten season, we were lucky to not see too much of his misfortunes but seriously, if he upside is a great forecheck with the downside being a goal against, it just might not be worth it to keep him around for too long. C

    Emilie- One of the most important things to remember about giving season grades (at least for me) is to remember that it's not necessarily about point production. It's about how they played their role on the team. And for the most part Rupp played his role on the team well. A big body who was good for a fight if need be. With the news that he will be having surgery for a knee problem, I'm giving him a little leeway on the speed issue. B

    JS- I won't say he was necessarily all that effective, but I was still surprised he wasn't totally useless. He had some pretty good moments during the season and helped make the 4th line one that could actually be played during games. However, his propensity for ill-timed penalties and rather poor playoff showing made him forgettable. Looks like size isn't everything. D

    Bryan- Speed, finesse, a sick shot, and a nose for the net. Zucker is everything the Wild need in their top 6. There is little to no chance he winds up in Iowa next season, as he has proven himself to be a dangerous weapon night in and night out. He has a Parise-esque feel to his game, and is seemingly always where the puck is. Give him the spot now, and write it in ink. B+

    Emilie- one of the biggest surprises of the season. Although...If I remember correctly I did argue that he would be a 2nd liner in the NHL before the season started. He's got some things to learn still, but factoring in his age, he's on the fast track to making an impact for many years on this team. He's got a bit of growing up to do still, but he's going to be just fine. He needs to work a bit on puck battles, being a bit more sound defensively, and not having as many turnovers for next season, but these are all things that should get easier as he gets more experience B

    And it pains me to admit this... but Emilie was right: This kid has the makings of a second line forward. Too bad I still won the debate. #TeamSyrupyMoose. B-

    Dan- I really do like PMB as a player and person, but he struggled almost the entire season with his offense. Considering his style of play, if he isn't scoring and putting up assists, he is a non-factor on the ice. D

    Emilie- Oh PMB. No one expected him to be back this season. He was streaky all season, but showed he can still play the game. When he was playing well, he was on fire. When he was cold...he was a liability in almost every way. There were a lot of times this season that he was just invisible. I'd be very surprised to see him in a Wild jersey next season but wish him all the luck in the future. C

    There's a big enough chance this is the last we've seen of PMB in a Wild uniform. It's sad, but both sides need to move on here and start fresh. Another chapter of the Wild of yesteryear is ending. Good luck PMB, and thanks for everything. B-

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