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Fantasy Preview: Minnesota Wild

Scott Cullen
9/17/2013 1:27:29 PM
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There are some safe picks at the top of the Minnesota Wild depth chart, but more of their players are later picks with potential or sleeper value.

Top Picks: While the Wild broke the bank for free agents last summer, they at least spent their money on premium players. LW Zach Parise is consistently productive and, aside from 2010-2011 when he played only 13 games because of a knee injury, Parise has missed either one or zero games in his seven other NHL seasons. He may not be a point-per-game guy again (something he's done twice), but he's a five-time 30-goal scorer worthy of being top five selection among left wingers.

Ryan Suter stepped to centre stage in Minnesota and scored a career-high 0.67 points per game while leading the league in ice time, at 27:17 per game. Over the last five seasons, he has 199 points, which ranks eighth among defencemen. He's a viable No. 1, but certainly a strong No. 2 option on the blueline.

Value Plays: C Mikko Koivu is consistently productive, but his ceiling may be the 71-point season he had in 2009-2010. As a No. 2 fantasy centre he's okay, particularly considering that he benefits from playing with Parise.

After he was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres, veteran RW Jason Pominville contributed nine points in 10 games before suffering a concussion. He's one year removed from a 73-point season, but his value is going to be tied to where he fits in the lineup. If he's with Koivu and Parise on the top line, that's ideal; if he's on the second line, it's not as ideal, so valuing him as a No.3 fantasy winger seems about fair.

He's 35 and last year's .909 save percentage was the second-worst of his career, but G Niklas Backstrom also won 24 games, playing more than an ideal amount because of Josh Harding's health. Backstrom can still have value, but can't be expected to play as many games as 2013, when he played 42 of 48.

Sleepers/Breakthrough: At one time in the not-too-distant past, RW Dany Heatley was a first-round fantasy pick, but he's fallen on hard times, which now makes him a potential value pick up. His point production and ice time were at career-low levels last season, yet he's a nine-time 20-goal scorer who is likely to have a regular role on the power play. At some point, later in the draft, he's going to be worth a try.

The Wild have a number of young players bucking for bigger roles. C Mikael Granlund was highly-touted last year, but was ultimately a bust as a rookie. He scored 28 points in 29 AHL games, however, so it's too soon to give up on him.

RW Charlie Coyle isn't a big scorer (14 points in 37 games as a rookie), but he's a big body and earned time down the stretch with Parise and Koivu. If he finds his way back to that spot, there is potential value.

LW Jason Zucker had five points in 20 games with the Wild last season, but 24 goals and 50 points in 55 AHL games suggests that he has the ability to fill a second-line role. LW Nino Niederreiter had 28 goals and 50 points in 74 AHL games last season and is looking for a fresh start away from the Islanders.

Any combination of these young forwards could ultimately have fantasy value, but until roles are settled, they're difficult to draft.

Rookies: The seventh overall pick in 2012, D Mathew Dumba isn't assured of a spot on the Wild roster, but he's a dynamic player, a defenceman who joins the rush, can score and play a physical game. It may be too soon to expect big numbers from Dumba, but he's worth having an eye on if he makes the club.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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