We asked Bryan nine fantasy relevant questions about the Wild and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
To see the rest of our Blogger's Breakouts click here for the main page.
by Bryan from Hockey Wilderness.
Q1) Wild Breakout of the Year?
I'm sticking with Guillaume Latendresse. His preseason has been anything but spectacular, but word is he is hurt, so that likely is affecting him. He scored 25 goals in 55 games after coming on board from Montreal, and showed serious chemistry with Martin Havlat. With Matt Cullen and Havlat already clicking, Latendresse is only going to benefit from that. There are doubters, saying that he cannot possibly keep up his jump in shooting percentage, but Latendresse has never had consistent ice time with high quality players. These players create plays, and plays create space. He is easily a 30 goal scorer, and could go even higher if everything works out right for him.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Wild?
James Sheppard. Get it? "Break" out season? No? OK, fine. Let's go with Matt Cullen, who has never had 50 points in a season. Two of the key points to the Wild having a successful season are for Latendresse to repeat his performance from last year, and for Havlat to have a rebound year. By definition, as their center, Cullen has to benefit. If Latendresse scores 30 goals, and Havlat returns to form, the low end for Cullen has got to be 60 points.
Q3) Breakdown Player on the Wild?
Antti Miettinen. As hard as it is to believe, as there wasn't much to begin with, Miettinen is certainly going to drop in production. He had career numbers last season, and is still on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette, but not for long. As soon as Pierre-Marc Bouchard comes back, Butch will be the top line RW. Miettinen will begin to pull third line checking duty, as he is not going to displace Havlat, and should trade bait at the deadline.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Going to go with John Tavares here. Following the Stamkos model, Tavares could be set to have a big year. Of course, the injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo won't help here, but he still has Matt Moulson, and the pressure will be on to turn up the offense.
Q5) Who are your First Five Picks in a Fantasy Draft?
It all depends on the weight of goalie stats, but the obvious five are: Ovechkin, Crosby, Sedin, Stamkos and Backstrom
Q6) Best Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
Neither, Team Rob. Sweet sombreros, how can you go wrong?
In all seriousness? Short term, Tyler Seguin has a much better team around him, and is going to skate with proven players in Boston. Long term, Taylor Hall is going to win out. With players such as Paajarvi on his wing, the Oilers are going to be dangerous in a few years, and Hall is going to challenge to be an answer for question 5.
Q8) Your Stanley Cup Pick?
I think this is the year the Washington Capitals pull it all together. It just cannot happen to have such a talented group of guys like they have and not eventually win it all.
BONUS) Niklas Backstrom's sweet numbers in the past: Skill or Jacques Lemaire?
Increasingly, it is showing it was Jacques Lemaire. Backstrom is terrible in shootouts, and on breakaways, and with the Wild's new up-tempo system still creating odd man rushes against, Backstrom is going to be hung out to dry more than any one man should again this season. With the defensemen pinching more, and no forwards back to cover a mistake, Backstrom needs to show he can come up with the big save and be the hero. Thus far, he has not done that. Opposition is getting better quality shots, and more shots from closer to the net. Todd Richards' system just does not lend well to a goalie that does not have the "flop factor." Basically, Backstrom is an excellent goalie positionally, but if the team is not there to support (which it isn't) he cannot breakdown into the flop like a Dominik Hasek would do. If he's beat, he's beat. Simple as that.
Many thanks to Bryan for an excellent post. Remember for all your Minnesota Wild needs go to Hockey Wilderness.