Is Mikko Koivu's contract worth too much money?

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mikkokoivu.jpgYesterday’s announcement of Mikko Koivu’s seven year, $47.25 million contract extension seemed to bring out a lot of exasperated and aghast reactions. Some folks still aren’t even aware of who Mikko Koivu is in some cases. The main reaction, however, was incredulity. “What?! How is he worth nearly $7 million a year?!”

I guess that’s the right question to ask here: Is Mikko Koivu worth that kind of money? Brian “Buddha” Reynolds over at Hockey Wilderness certainly believes so and vehemently at that.

What was really happening is that Koivu was (and of times still is) out against the opponent’s top line. It makes it more difficult to score when you are slated with preventing the other team from scoring. The top line for the Wild serves as a scoring /checking line. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are not out to shut down Sidney Crosby when he visits, but Koivu and Brunette are.

Oh, and his point total has gone up every season except the Mathias Ohlund cheap shot stick chop season.

Got it? To re-cap: Koivu has been hosed his entire career, and yet still puts up 60-70 points. Put him on a line with another great player. Then, and only then, can you tell me he doesn’t stack up with those other guys. Put the other guys on a line with Bruno (Andrew Brunette) and Mittens (Antti Miettinen) and let’s see how many points they put up.

I’m not sure that Reynolds wanted to have it look like he said the Wild had a rough going of things by saying that Koivu has been “hosed” his whole career, but out of context it could look like that. That said, if you can name a big, scoring winger that’s played alongside Koivu throughout his career you’re a better person than I am. For the record, no, Martin Havlat did not play on Koivu’s wing last year at all. Havlat was on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Guillaume Latendresse.

So you’ve got the view of the Wild fan on what they think of the deal, but how about someone a little bit separated from the situation who can view things for what they are? Thankfully, the statistical gurus from Behind The Net are here to help shed some light on things.

He literally does everything: he takes on tough competition, he wins faceoffs at a very high rate, he scores and he logs a huge amount of PP and PK time.  Even though Minnesota seemingly followed a strategy of conceding shots (but limiting the quality of each chance), they’ve consistently outshot their opponents when Koivu is on the ice.  The only potential downside for Koivu is injuries, but he’s been very durable over the last two seasons.

It’s likely that Koivu will actually even outperform his contract over the next few years – if you’re going to drop $50M on a player, it had better be one this good.

In other words, Koivu is worth it and then some. So how do so many fans fall asleep at the wheel on him? Chances are, if you didn’t know about Mikko Koivu before you do now. For my money, and for what the Wild do and how they seem to operate he’s worth every penny.

Home-grown guy? Check. One of the better players in the NHL? Check. Plays both sides of the puck well? Check. The only thing that Mikko Koivu is lacking that’s preventing him from being the next governor of Minnesota is being from Minnesota himself. To those of you fretting over this deal saying it’s a “comparison-buster” and other guys will use this deal as a starting point in future negotiations, you can just stop that right now.  There are very few players in the NHL that do what Mikko Koivu can do and do it well enough to be a first line talent.

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)