So I haven’t written about the Wild in quite a while and by now all of you Wild fans should know who the new player added to the team of 18,000 is. Eric Staal, yes the eldest of the four Staal brothers has left his home for the past 13 seasons in Carolina and his partial season with the Rangers in the Big Apple to join the hometown boys in good ole Minnesota.
I’m pretty excited to have someone like Staal joining the Red and Green. He has a Stanley Cup and he’s also a leader, previously being the captain of Carolina. That being said, he won’t be looking to take any of Captain Koivu’s thunder being new to the team and all, plus respecting those who have been there longer and earned the spot.
In preparation for writing this post I read through some articles on how Staal may fit into the Wild’s roster and there were two main opinions, the first being he could\should be put into the first line where Koivu normally plays with Parise and Coyle, and the second was that Staal is getting old and may not have much left in him.
Keep in mind, Staal is 31 going to be 32 in October right when the season starts, in hockey terms that could mean he is past his peak but that doesn’t mean he can’t still score a goal or two. In my personal opinion age doesn’t really matter, it’s just a number, the real deciding factor is if his mind and body can still take it; which from recent videos it looks like he can.
Bobby Hull played until he was 41, Wayne Gretzky played until he was 38, Mario Lemiuex played until he was 41 (he did have a brief three year break because of illness), Brett Hull played until he was 41 as well. This is just a brief list of some of the greatest players to ever play and I think you get my point on age just being a number and a player like Staal may have quite a few years left in him.
However the game is constantly changing and players are retiring earlier and earlier but it all depends on the player. Now to the other opinion on Staal and his line placement. It is rather hard to decide where he should fit in because there has also been a dramatic shift in coaching with Bruce Boudreau taking over the team from Mike Yeo (my opinion on that will be in a separate post from this when I dive into everything head coach related).
In my personal opinion from watching the Wild consistently throughout the years and the players that have stuck around, I believe it would be better for Staal not to be on the first line. This isn’t so much because he’s not experienced enough but rather it takes time to get used to a new team and I don’t believe in breaking up good pairings just because they aren’t hitting the numbers you think they should. Sometimes, actually more often than not, those numbers are unrealistic and can’t be hit even by pros who have been at it for years.
I think Koivu should stick with Coyle and Praise because it worked and why mess with your first line. Yes, Staal is fast and could keep up with those two but he doesn’t have the playmaking style that Koivu does. Staal is a goalscorer more than Koivu amd he should be placed with wings that could do that for him. Pominville and Zucker I believe would be great pairings for him, Zucker has the speed and can connect on passes that Staal would feed and Pominville is great at setting guys up for goals and he’s quite speedy as well.
Now Staal is the type of guy who leads without having to be in the captain position, he’s a lot like former Wild players Andrew Brunette and Wes Walz for you Wild statisticians like myself. He leads by example which is something the Wild can always use, there’s no such thing as too much leadership. Well, there might be but that’s if the leaders don’t get along, the Wild really don’t have to worry about that.
So with this new face added to the team, do you fans believe the Wild have what it takes to bring the historic Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey? I do, but I always do, I’m a die-hard wild fan and always will be.
Thanks for reading! Many more posts to come I hope!