If only they had certain players. If they had drafted or traded for those players things would be different. These are common phrases in the hockey community. Whether it was a failed draft selection, unsuccessful trade, or just daydreaming, fans, the media and even GMs often wish they had certain players playing for their team. For the Minnesota Wild, there are plenty of players out there I’m sure general manager Chuck Fletcher wishes he could have. We’re going to take a look at two players specifically.
After watching Vladimir Tarasenko tear up the NHL the last three seasons, it’s hard to believe that 15 NHL clubs passed on him in the 2010 NHL Draft, that includes the Wild. The team went with Finnish center Mikael Granlund with their 10th overall pick in 2010.
Granlund finally had a breakout year in 2016-17. However, it’s still unclear if he can be consistently productive. The move from center to wing helped his production this year, as it gave him fewer responsibilities and allowed him to focus more on contributing offensively.
The Wild have lacked a sniper since the days of Marian Gaborik. In the past five years, they have successfully found their way into the playoffs but haven’t been able to make it past the second round in any of those seasons. There were times when goaltending was the issue and other times when it was a lack of scoring. If the Wild had Tarasenko, you have to think that he would have made a difference.
What Tarasenko Brings
Having Tarasenko would add speed to an already fast team. His skill and scoring ability would be valuable at five-on- five as well as on the power play. Imagine having a top power play unit of Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Tarasenko, and with Matt Dumba and Zach Parise on the points.
What makes guys like Tarasenko so special is their ability to carry a team when they’re struggling to score. The Wild have plenty of talent offensively. However, a lot of their talent has the tendency to go long streaks without scoring. This is where Tarasenko would be key. It’s almost certain that drafting him would have led to deeper playoff runs, and possibly even a Stanley Cup.
The Wild are known for their strong defensive core. It’s arguably been their biggest strength over the last five years. The difference between them and some of the top teams like the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Blues is their offensive production.
The Wild haven’t had an offensive defenseman since Brent Burns, who was traded after scoring 17 goals in 2010-11. The Wild, along with every other team, had an opportunity to land an offensively gifted d-man in 2007. P.K. Subban was taken 43rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Who did the Wild pick with their 1st round pick? A guy named Tyler Cuma. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s because he played one NHL game in his entire career.
Subban has become one of the most well-known players in the NHL. His outgoing personality and high-energy playing style make him one of the most liked, and disliked, players in the League. No matter what anyone thinks of Subban, you can’t deny his offensive skill. In his eight seasons in the NHL, Subban has scored at least 10 goals five times. This is something the Wild would have loved to have on their blue line.
What Subban Brings
If the Wild had drafted Subban, not only would they have solidified their top four defensemen, but they would have added some much needed scoring power on the back end and on the power play. His intensity and the way he carries himself would be contagious in a Wild locker room.
If Subban was taken by the Wild, their top four defenseman would include Subban, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin. That doesn’t include guys like Dumba and Gustav Oloffson, who would likely serve as the third pairing. It’s astounding that someone of Subban’s skill fell to the second round and I have no doubt many other teams, including the Wild, are kicking themselves for it now.