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Updated: September 24th, 2013 9:36am
Hockey Prospectus says only one NHL hockey team is worse than the Wild

Hockey Prospectus says only one NHL hockey team is worse than the Wild

by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Wild are 3-1 in the preseason, including two shootout victories. They have two preseason games left before the puck drops for real on Oct. 3.

The lockout shortened season may have hurt the Wild more than most teams, because it was a new collection of players and included young players at critical positions. With the stable of young prospects - Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund - expected to take a step forward in development, excitement is picking up around the team.

But here's your wet blanket.

The Wild are projected to be the second-worst team in the NHL, according to Hockey Prospectus.

They admit their projection system, VUKOTA, isn't perfect. But it's a good starting point and provides an apples-to-apples comparison of every team in the NHL. I'll let them explain it below. But first, here's what they had to say about the Wild, who ranked 29th and are seen as a "draft lottery contender":

Minnesota Wild (83 points): Although most experts still see the Wild as a playoff team, there's significant risk of a disappointing season in 2013-14. Minnesota has a lot of star power on the top lines but doesn't have a lot of depth built around those stars. Ryan Suter, for example, is paid more than all its other six defensemen combined. If the goaltending also becomes an issue, the Wild could easily find themselves drafting first.

Some more on their projection system:

How did we come to these conclusions? Using a statistical projection engine called VUKOTA, which makes use of the goals versus threshold (GVT) metric. Described by creator Tom Awad as "GVT's most powerful descendant," VUKOTA projects a player's likely future based on the scoring of historically comparable players. It is named after former fringe NHL player Mick Vukota as a play on words of baseball's similar PECOTA system.

Hockey Prospectus also notes that "teams on average record one extra point in the standings for every three goals scored or prevented."

I'm intrigued to hear what you think, readers. Admittedly, I thought this ranking was way too low when I first heard the Wild were ranked No. 29. But the argument for why the team could flop is sound. I'll assume no reader thinks this ranking is too high. Do you think it's too low? Or just right?

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Mikael Granlund, Ryan Suter
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