Wild Week in Review

By Chris Kitching

Monday, March 11 to Sunday, March 17

At the Deadline

The National Hockey League’s trade deadline will pass on Tuesday at 3:01
p.m. EST, not before putting a scare into the hearts of many players (and
their families) around the league.

“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t think about it,” Wild defenseman Jason
Marshall told the Pioneer Press. “We all know it comes every year. It’s kind
of out of our control. We try to concentrate on playing the game.”

Marshall’s name has been included in several trade rumors, while goaltender
Jamie McLennan has had his name bounce around several times. McLennan has
been playing in the American Hockey League with the Houston Aeros all
season, and will be an unrestricted free agent come July. The chance of
finding a taker for McLennan is unlikely.

With only two years of existence in the NHL, the Wild could use help at
every position, unlike some of the top teams in the league, who are
well-padded in certain areas.

The addition of one or two experienced veterans will add some leadership and
much needed depth to the lineup, which is something Minnesota should seek
before the puck drops on the 2002-03 season.

By the Numbers

11 – Points Marian Gaborik has recorded in his last six games (nine
goals, two assists), powering the Wild to a 3-0-1-2 record in that span.

8 – Points the Wild have earned in their last five games, including
wins over St. Louis, Dallas and Columbus, a tie with Phoenix and an overtime
loss to Ottawa.

>0 – Games won in overtime this season. The Wild have a 0-7-10 record
in the extra frame this season, something head coach Jacques Lemaire cannot
explain. “I might try the goalie up front,” he joked.

The Week That Was (0-0-1-1)

The Wild earned two out of a possible four points this week, including a tie
with the NHL’s hottest team, the Phoenix Coyotes, who are 7-0-2-1 in their
last 10.

Gaborik (two goals), Andrew Brunette (two assists) and Jim Dowd (two
assists) kept their point-streaks alive in the tie, helping break Phoenix’s
six-game winning streak.

Tue, Mar. 12: L 3-4 (OT) vs. Ottawa Senators
– Magnus Arvedson’s goal sinks Wild in overtime.

Sun, Mar. 17: T 2-2 (OT) vs. Phoenix Coyotes
– Wild break Phoenix’s six-game winning streak.

The Week Ahead

The Wild look to continue their impressive play as of late with three games
against struggling clubs. The Flames are on the verge of bowing out of the
race for a final Western Conference playoff spot, while Columbus’ playoff
hopes were dashed well over a month ago.

As for the Islanders, they no longer look like their old selves, as they
have a record of 13-14-2-1 since January 1 and have dropped into the lower
half of the Eastern Conference playoff pack.

Mon, Mar. 18: vs. Calgary Flames (27-28-11-3, 4th Northwest)
– Flames are on the outside looking in with a slim chance at the playoffs.

Wed, Mar. 20: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-38-8-3, 5th Central)
– Wild drubbed Columbus 5-0 on March 10.

Sat, Mar. 23: at New York Islanders (32-25-7-3, 2nd Atlantic)
– Islanders struggling as of late with three wins in their last 10 games.

Player of the Week

LW Andrew Brunette continues to prove why he was the most underrated free
agent signing last July, with two goals and seven assists in his last five

Brunette scored a goal against Ottawa and added two helpers on Sunday
against the Coyotes. The 29-year-old came over from the Atlanta Thrashers
and leads the Wild with 16 goals and 42 assists in 66 games, and is two
points shy of setting a career-best for points in a regular season.

Recently, Brunette set a franchise record with four assists in their win
over the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 10.

Trainer’s Room

D Filip Kuba had his cast removed and is now sporting a splint to protect
his right hand. Still in the healing process, there is a chance he may not
return this season.

“They are trying to get the motion back in my wrist, because the tendons are
so stiff in there,” Kuba told the Pioneer Press. “I can’t really do much
with my finger, because X-rays show that it has not healed all the way. I
have to wait another week or two for that. When I try to make a fist it’s
all right, but when I try to move my finger upward, I still can feel it
isn’t right.”

C Sergei Zholtok suffered a shoulder injury in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss
to Ottawa, and missed Sunday afternoon’s tie with Phoenix. The injury
occurred in the first period when Zholtok was checked into the boards by the
Senators’ Martin Havlat, just days after Zholtok signed a new multi-year

“We need him,” coach Lemaire said. “He came back in the second, he tried to
shoot the puck once, he felt it and moved off.”

Hockey’s Future will have more news next week regarding Zholtok’s injury.

Wild Briefs: The Wild received good news last Monday when the NHL
announced Marian Gaborik as the league’s player of the week for the week of
March 4 to 10. In four games, Gaborik tallied seven goals and one assist,
breaking out of a 12 game scoring slump. Gaborik is the first player in
franchise history to earn the weekly nod….Matt Johnson served the final
game of his five game suspension on Tuesday night. Johnson was suspended for
punching Vancouver’s Mattias Ohlund in the head on March 2.


Question: If you were Minnesota’s General Manager, create one trade
you would make at the NHL’s annual trade deadline, and why. Keep your
transaction realistic (no Hendrickson for Sakic trades, please) and explain
why you believe the trade would benefit the hockey team.

Send your well-thought replies to chris_kitching@hotmail.com.

Next week, I’ll return with a new question, and I’ll post several replies in
this very spot!