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  1. #1
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    Minnesota Wild Defense 2012-13

    Well, we still have some time before the start of the 2012-13 season (and yes, I AM aware there is a CBA/work stoppage potential issue there as well…shudder…), but I thought it about time to start looking at how some facets of the Minnesota Wild is shaping up.

    I’d like this thread to stay focused on the defense.
    Obviously, mentions about goaltending go with defense, and even how the forwards can help that as well. All fine and dandy, and if relevant, mention could be made about those.

    Seeing as how Minnesota’s main problem last season was goal scoring, an entire thread could be made to discuss forwards and the offense
    However, I’d like the thread to stay mostly on the actual defensemen themselves.

    Things like, who will be major contributors, who seems to be in Minnesota for the long term, who may find their way out, who may have trouble cracking the lineup on a regular basis, and who may get a shot at the NHL from AHL Houston.



    Overall, last season's Wild defense was pretty decent, though obviously, there were many times where they played like a mostly young D-men crew.
    I've seen some good games played by the D as a whole, some ok ones where a miscue here or there may have cost them a game, and some where quite frankly, if it wasn't for the goaltending of Backstrom, Harding, and even Hackett, the Wild could have easily been blown out of the water.
    All three of these goalies, BTW, look to start the season either with the Wild, or with the Aeros.

    They ranked 13th in GA (2.6 gpg), and 15th on the PK at 82.1%...middling at best.

    Well, with some 'trimming of the fat' on the defensive side of things, some maturing of current young defensemen, and of course, the addition of still yet others, I look for the Wild defense to not only be better, but help to contribute to the woeful offense that was the 2011-12 season.

    If all goes well with health and performance, there is no reason why Minnesota's defense
    can't rise above it's 'middling' status.

  2. #2
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    Keeping in mind that all this is subject to change from now to the start of the season (trades, releases, and injuries can still occur now, in training camp, and in the exhibition games), I’d like to start with what I believe should be Minnesota’s top six defensemen:

    1)Ryan Suter—a no-brainer. Sure, he may be the ‘newest kid’ on the Wild block, but Minny didn’t sign this guy big money and lots of years to blend into the background.

    With all due respect to the Minnesota defensemen that have toiled away in St. Paul the last few seasons, Suter is the ‘go-to’ defenseman, and really should lead the way both in terms of on-ice and off-ice matters.
    He has the NHL time put in, the maturity, the skillset, and the proven NHL performance record to go with being named Minny’s number one defenseman.

    2)Tom Gilbert—I put him here because he too is a veteran with good offensive skills (and he replaced Nick Schultz who was pretty popular in Minnesota), and a guy who is looked upon to help lead the way for the younger set of Minnesota defensemen.

    Personally, I am not a huge fan of his (though to be fair, I didn’t watch him very much in Edmonton), as he did virtually nothing for Minnesota at the time of his trade to the Wild.
    However, his stats prior to last season say he should provide offense both on even strength and on the PP, so I will wait to pass full judgement on the guy until he has had some significant time with the Wild.

    3)Marco Scandella—One half of what I consider the Junior Defensive Wonder Combo, Scandella is only 22, has two years of NHL experience already, is a big body (listed at 6’3, but at only 215 pounds, may be able to fill out further), looks to possess some pretty nice offensive skills, and looks like he can play against some of the NHL’s best forwards in covering his own zone, both in terms of position and playing the body.

    He currently is on the final year of his EL contract (850K) and would be an RFA at the end of that. I look at this coming season as a ‘show me some more’ type thing from him, and think that if Minnesota likes what they see from him again this year, perhaps give him a long term deal.

    4)Jared Spurgeon—The 2nd half of the JDWC (I LOVE acronyms..hehe)…he, like Scandella is only 22, has the same amount of experience, and is in the final year of his EL contract (525K), and looks to show Minny why they should keep him around long-term.

    Spurgeon’s style is somewhat different than Scandella’s, as he is only 5’9 and about 170, and thus looks to provide more offense with his puck handling and speed (at his best he is almost like having a fourth forward out there!), though for a small frame, I have seen him put some hellacious hits on much larger opponents in his own zone.

    He was often paired with Scandella, as they compliment each other pretty well, and I see that possibly remaining the same for 2012-13…though splitting them up for each to play with a more ‘senior’ defenseman is always a possibility.

    5)Clayton Stoner—Big, tough, stay-at-home type D-man. Not really a fighter (though he has on occasion, dropped the mitts), but more of a hard checking big body who is not above taking an shot or two at opposing forwards who try to take liberties with his goalie trying to freeze up pucks.

    Stoner just recently got a contract extension by the Wild, so obviously, they’d like to see more of him, however, durability has been an issue with big Clayton, and ultimately, that could be his downfall as far as his quest to being an everyday, reliable D-man in the league. I like Stoner’s tenacious style and hope he stays healthy enough to give Minnesota some prime minutes as one of their tougher D-men.

    6)Justin Falk—Another big bodied defenseman (6’5), who plays much like Clayton Stoner, albeit at just 23 yrs old as opposed to Clayton’s 29 yrs. He is in the final year of his contract (825K) and set to be an RFA at season’s end, and he too will look to show Minnesota and the NHL why he should be a longer term NHL’er. I like him as well (maybe a bit more than Stoner, as they are similar, though Falk seems a bit more mobile on the ice), have seen him make some good strides at being a good NHL defenseman, and he too plays with an edge where he takes no crap from the opposition.

    He has shown he still has a long way to go to be a complete defensive defenseman however, as he has looked silly in trying to cover some of the league’s better forwards, but then, D-men develop more slowly than forwards at the NHL level, and thus I expect him to look ‘green’ in some facets of his game, given his age.

    Well, those are what I think should be Minny’s top six, however, I do want to mention a 7th guy.
    And that would be 26 yr old Nate Prosser.

    Prosser has been somewhat of a career minor leaguer until last season when he showed Minny he could play regularly at the NHL level. His game consists of a stay-at-home coverage style, a bit of sandpaper to him (ok, a lot of sandpaper to him…he even borders on being a defensive version of an agitator), is quite vocal on the ice to both teammates and opponents, is a decent checker, and will regularly engage opponents in extra curricular stuff and after-the-whistle events… heh…

    At the end of last season, Prosser was given a two year extension for this year and next (at 825K each). Whether that was to cover themselves in case Minnesota needed D-men (prior to landing Suter), have him truly be a regular part of the defensive core, or simply to have him as a depth defenseman remains to be seen.

    Guys like Stoner and Spurgeon have had some injury issues before, and a guy like Tom Gilbert may or may not work out for Minnesota, so I believe Prosser will see some significant ice time over the course of the season.

    And rounding out my post, I will mention some guys whom I believe may start the season at the AHL level:

    Steve Kampfer (24 yrs old)—smallish, offensive type D-man (kinda like Jared Spurgeon)
    Chay Genoway—(26 yrs old)another sub 6f t, offense first style D-man.
    Jeff Penner(25 yrs old)---yet ANOTHER small offensive defenseman.
    Brian Connelly (26 yrs old)---seems to have done well in the AHL wherever he has been, but can he translate that to the NHL? Tall, yet somewhat of a lightweight for his height...good offensive skills.
    Last edited by PineAppleFlavor; 07-17-2012 at 06:45 PM.

  3. #3
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    Also, Wild fans, I did NOT forget him, but didn't include him initially because he would probably need some "pro seasoning" before seeing some NHL time, is Wild draft pick Matt Dumba.

    Many are projecting him to be a PK Subban-like type player, meaning he is a package of hitting, offense, agitation, and even a bit of intimidation.

    I look forward to seeing Matt Dumba in action sooner than later, but for the here n now, I'd be very surprised if he saw the light of day at the NHL level.

  4. #4
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    See the thing for me with Gilbert is that he isn't skilled enough to be a #1 defenseman. We made the trade because we needed a guy who could move the puck up the ice and while i still love Schultz that definitely wasn't a strength of his. If the depth chart holds and gilbert is on the second pairing with scandella will be good for the both of them. Also with Spurgeon obviously his play is going to look better with Suter, but I think it will give him some more confidence to be that offensive defenseman because he can rely on Suter being back. Agree with the Stoner and Falk write ups and feel they can be a decent shutdown 3rd pairing

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    In regards to Gilbert, both he and Schultz experienced similar 'shake ups' when that trade happened...I mean, both guys were long time members of the Oilers and Wild respectively, were quite comfortable where they were, were reasonably popular with the fans on their teams.....then the trade happens, and pretty much shook up both their worlds.....of course, like you said, Minny needing the more offensive Gilbert, and Edmonton needing a mature stay-at-home type....

    Again, I haven't watched much of Gilbert, so I will give him a pass for now. But if he doesn't start producing sooner than later (whether as a 1st or 2nd D-pairing), then that 4 mil owed to him annually is going to look awfully heavy.

    I was also thinking that if he does well enough, and say a guy like a Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and maybe even one of the AHL guys start to pan out really well offensively (I am EXPECTING Mr. Suter to be a contributor offensively as well as be a shut down guy), then perhaps Minnesota can go ahead and trade Gilbert to a team who needs offense from the blue line, and get a either a nice combo of picks and/or prospects for him, or even a more physical NHL ready defenseman to go along with Stoner/Falk/Prosser...particularly because I think Stoner may see some time on IR again.

    Minny is just about out of cap room after their busy off season, so I would think they'd want to know what they will be getting from Gilbert before deciding whether his cap hit is worth keeping on the team.

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    Again though say the Wild moved Gilbert, now it would all depend on what we got back, but say we didnt get a defenseman. Now other than Suter, we'd have 5 guys who are all pretty young (Stoner not young but not a ton of experience). Now as the prediction thread has stated we feel we are a 5 or 6 seed. I would be pretty hesistant to be bringing in 5 pretty unexperienced young defensman to the playoffs. I agree Gilbert will need to play better which i think he will, trading him could be detrimental imo

  7. #7
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    I still think the Wild need to make a move to shore up their defense for this season. If there isn't a deal that can be made they shouldn't force it because we will still be a couple years away from the cup regardless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Killerjug View Post
    Again though say the Wild moved Gilbert, now it would all depend on what we got back, but say we didnt get a defenseman. Now other than Suter, we'd have 5 guys who are all pretty young (Stoner not young but not a ton of experience). Now as the prediction thread has stated we feel we are a 5 or 6 seed. I would be pretty hesistant to be bringing in 5 pretty unexperienced young defensman to the playoffs. I agree Gilbert will need to play better which i think he will, trading him could be detrimental imo
    Hmm. Some very good points regarding experience should Minnesota indeed make the playoffs. Without Gilbert, Suter really WOULD be the only 'seasoned' guy there.

    In that case, that makes it doubly important for Gilbert to do well this season. Wild are paying him a good sum, and are then going to be counting on he and Suter to show the less experienced what it's like to perform when the pressure is greatest...

    Although, even this brings up an interesting situation: I realize Gilbert age-wise is considered a vet...but really, with all his time spent in Edmonton, he really has not known what it's like to be in a pressure packed playoff series. I mean, usually Edmonton is out of it by December or January.

    He'd have just his 5+ years of NHL regular season experience to draw on.
    Maybe he'll have career highs with Minnesota. Over in Edmonton, he always had VERY young, albeit talented forwards to dish off to...with Minny, the forward lines (Koivu, Parise, Clutterbuck, Heatley, Setoguchi, etc) will have more experienced and many of those guys have seen playoff action.

    And of course the much more solid Minnesota goaltending situation as opposed to Edmonton's over the last few seasons.

    Oh, and hey, lets not forget...even though Minny's cap room is currently wittled down to around 750 K or so, if they ARE in contention come trade deadline, they could pick up a veteran D-man as a rental for the playoff run.

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    Hehe...I've got some naysayers already saying Minnesota is overrated, Suter or no, and that the Wild will miss the playoffs once again.

    Imagine that. They went from being a long ways away from Cup Contention (according to some of these 'experts') to being overrated...
    Well, if someone 'overrates' you, it apparently means you have some shot to make noise, only not as much...either way, it sounds much better than "long ways away from being contenders", no?

    Gotta love haters!

    PS: some of that commentary came from Detroit, Chicago, and a couple Vancouver fans....hmm...sounds like they might be worried a bit....
    Last edited by PineAppleFlavor; 07-18-2012 at 08:29 PM.

  10. #10
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    These are my pairings and reasonings:

    Suter-Spurgeon

    Suter is our obvious number 1. I will not add anything on him because well we all know everything about him. Spurgeon after the Gilbert trade last year was almost averaging 25 mins of ice time...as a 5'9 D in his second year....Thats INSANE. He is much more a puck mover which might not have shown with his points last year, but thats because last year really for most of the season he was the go to main min defender we had out there. With Suter it will allow him to join the rush and play his game more, take more chances offensively knowing one of the best is behind him. I really think this will be a great pairing if Spurgeon just keeps his head level and plays his game.

    Scandella-Gilbert

    Gilbert is not a #1 D and I really dont like the trade I think we got hosed. But he can move the puck and is a skilled right handed defender, rare. He will do much better with a season behind him and knowing his new team. Scandella right now is our best young D as far as potential goes (Not including Brodin/Dumba im talking with NHL experience). He has offensive flash, but it needs to be more consistent. He has good size, but he has to use it better. He doesnt really go for big hits, which im fine with. His skating is above average same with his defensive instincts. He just, like Spurgeon, needs to go out there and play his game, not over extend himself and learn and benefit from having Gilbert. This duo depends on Scandella's progression.

    Falk-Stoner(Prosser)

    My choice would be the two I have. Stoner has been the only + defender we have had the last two seasons if I remember correctly. So he has to be doing something right, and I put it that way because sometimes if your not noticing a defender its a good thing, it means he is making few mistakes. He is physical and has grit and is a good partner for a shut down pair. Moving on to my favorite (honestly) is Falk. He is huge but MUST learn to use his size better. He actually is a good puck mover contrary to popular belief. He has shown he knows when to pinch and when to join the rush and his skating for a big man is good. If he can round out his offensive game to average, and really learn how to use his body not just to hit but to force forwards to the edge he can become a #3, #4 guy. I am really excited to see his progress, I am a huge fan of big D.

    Goalie wise I am so happy Harding stayed and with Backstrom we have a great 1-2 combo.

    I really think with the additions of Konopka and Mitchell we have one of the better bottom 6 in the league. I mean we really could put 5 natural centers in our bottom 6. Talk about winning key face offs. I just love the Konopka signing haha

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    Scandella has the tools to become the 2nd best defenseman on the team. I am looking forward to seeing how/if he develops this year.

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    Absolutely he does. He really could be a number 2 in the future shut down guy with good puck moving abilities. But it all depends on his progression.

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    hey pineapple, nice review on the D. i thought our basically rookie D last year did very well. only 226GA! im not sure why CF traded for gilbert but the local paper said he had been inquiring to EDM for 3 years about gilbert. i think our 3rd D pairing will rotate between kampfer - prosser - falk - stoner. sidenote i may be traveling to tampa this winter , which beach is a must see? thx ps cruzan rum makes pineapple flavor!
    Last edited by DANOZ28; 07-26-2012 at 03:04 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DANOZ28 View Post
    hey pineapple, nice review on the D. i thought our basically rookie D last year did very well. only 226GA! im not sure why CF traded for gilbert but the local paper said he had been inquiring to EDM for 3 years about gilbert. i think our 3rd D pairing will rotate between kampfer - prosser - falk - stoner. sidenote i may be traveling to tampa this winter , which beach is a must see? thx ps cruzan rum makes pineapple flavor!
    Hehe...thanks for the cheers, Dano..

    Ya, the Minny defense really wasn't terrible last season. Honestly, much of the bad play looks like it could be handled with more experience, and it is always nice when you have solid goaltending to back up such a young defense.

    That said, I am not naive enough to think that our entire defense will be the greatest thing ever.
    Truth is, with all that youth, Minnesota would call it a success if one or two of those guys become truly elite defenders.

    That combined with the looming CBA situation is probably the reason we are seeing so many short term contracts on guys whom the team would like to see what they really may turn out to be...

    This of course excludes guys like Suter, whom Minnesota already knows what they are getting there.

    I really would like to see a guys like Justin Falk and Marco Scandella become Minnesota mainstays, as I like their skillsets as possible shut down guys.

    On the offensive side of things, Jared Spurgeon looks to be the guy, although I DO worry that his size at his position will make him a candidate for much time spent on IR....despite his nice offensive talents.

    And I am a big, big fan of Nate Prosser's, however, unless he performs out of his mind, he will probably not be much more than what he is already....and thus may not be a long term Minnesota Wild player.

    As for beaches, well, lots to choose from, but my personal favorite is Clearwater Beach.
    Access to the beach has been improved tremendously over the last couple years, however, any trips there, I would recommend going early or if beaches at night is your thing, perhaps after 7pm or so....as many parking lots have been eliminated, and having a place to put your car is at a premium now!!

    Other beach options I like would be Indian Rocks Beach, and Crystal Beach...although Crystal is much much smaller (with some of it being part of private property, so tread carefully )....pretty nice if you want a bit more of that "have the beach to myself" kinda feeling, though not good if your looking for the 'touristy' thing......Clearwater is king for that.

    Enjoy your trip to FLA!

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    i havent checked when minny plays tampa (if we have a season) im split between going to florida or back to virgin islands . i would like to fly to tampa , rent a car & drive to key west then back to tampa checking out all the beaches i can. i've only been to florida once when i was 12! go wild!

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