Wild Surprise…

Updated: December 7, 2009 at 11:37 pm by Tony Caswell


Good evening from the State of Hockey.  My name is Tony Caswell and I am a recent addition to the DailyFaceoff writing staff.  Born and raised in Minny with countless mediocre seasons of youth, high school, and now men’s league hockey to my credit.  For those of you not familiar with my career, I currently hold the record for most penalty minutes in the 1993 Fergus Falls Holiday Classic Tournament for Bantam B2’s.  Don’t act like you’re not jealous.  Anyways, I have been a big Wild fan since their inception in 2000 and a season ticket holder for a few years now.  However, I’m a fan of hockey in general.  I look forward to fielding some questions and chit-chatting about all things hockey.  Now for the good stuff.

As many of you savvy hockey fans know, the Wild looked like hot garbage for the first 12 or so games of the season.  Jumping out to an abysmal 3-9 start and looking like a team without a shred of cohesion or any semblance of direction.  Granted, with a new GM (Chuck Fletcher), a new head coach (Todd Richards) and a new system in place there was the expectation that there would be an adjustment period and some growing pains.  Well, let me tell you as a fan of the Wild, that adjustment period was excruciating.   However, it would appear that the Wild have turned the corner.  They’re 10-3-3 in their last 16 and starting to show signs of life offensively.  Most years, the Wild are a non-factor fantasy hockey wise.  They traditionally don’t score a lot of goals and outside of the usual suspects of Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom, and Marek Zidlicky they didn’t have much to offer those of us managing a fantasy hockey team, or two, or three. 

I’m here to tell you there is help out there, and it can be found on the Wild roster.  In the last two weeks the first line of Mikko Koivu – Antti Miettinen – Andrew Brunette have been nothing short of stellar.  Obviously, team captain Mikko Koivu is no surprise.  He’s been a rising star in the league for a couple years and should be owned in pretty much any league.  However, Miettinen and Brunette are widely available and very serviceable options in deeper leagues. 

Bruno at his peak was an 80+ point producer and has consistently put up 50+ points over the last three seasons.  Respectable, but hardly a no brainer at a typically very deep left wing position.  This season, Brunette has already posted 10 goals and 16 assists in 28 games, 14 of those points coming on the power play.  While it is unlikely that he will maintain his almost point per game pace, he is a certainly worth a gamble this season under the new offensive minded system.  Brunette is owned in only 40% of Yahoo leagues and 37.1% of ESPN leagues. 

Antti Miettinen is becoming a great option for deeper leagues at a very shallow right wing position.  He was basically non-existent during the first 20 games of the season, but has absolutely caught fire.  In the last 6 games he has posted 6 goals, 2 assists and a positive 6 +/-.  He gets minutes on the power play and has a knack for finding the back of the net when he gets opportunities.  Miettinen is a player with a ton of upside.  He put up 44 points last season in a defense first system typical of Jacque Lemaire.  With Todd Richards loosening the reigns offensively it is possible for the Wild’s first line to pleasantly surprise a lot of people with their point production.  Antti Miettinen is owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues and a paltry 1.8% in ESPN leagues.  Riding Miettinen’s hot streak could pay dividends quickly with this line finding ways to light the lamp.  Also, this week the Wild have 4 games between Monday and Saturday.  All the games are on the road with 3 of those games against divisional opponents Colorado, Calgary, and Vancouver.

I welcome any questions, comments, or feedback.  Go Wild!

Andrew Brunette, Antti Miettinen, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, Niklas Backstrom