With Pre-Season scheduled to begin October 11, the Minnesota Wild are still not finished tweaking the roster with the remaining time left in the offseason. The team is still searching for a 7th Defenseman for when injuries inevitably take a body or two out of the lineup. Much to the cheeky grin of Wild fans, a 7th top4 defenseman is not likely to join the high end group of defensemen assembled by the GM for 2020-2021.
‘’Fixing the defense was my number one priority starting from last year and leading into the season. We desperately needed to load up on talent and experience if we wanted to get out of the cycle of rebuilding and start to compete in a tough western conference. Jake Muzzin, a controversial high salary free agent signing, worked out to be a gem. But we needed more help and acquired two extremely underrated top defensemen in Jared Spurgeon and Nate Schmidt to help insulate the developing younger guys in Josh Morrissey, Filip Hronek and Ryan Graves. These moves proved to be a difference maker for the Wild, thrusting us into a playoff spot and getting us into round two.” – GM Peter
The excitement level is heightened for this returning group this year. The individual attributes have gone up across the board. This is a good test for Minnesota and for the league in general. There is a belief across the league that defense doesn’t matter in the NEFHL and it’s all about offense. This belief extends beyond the roster and impacts the draft as solid defense prospects tend to drop every single year. Hopefully this test ends very well for Minnesota and eventually shifts the dynamics of team building and drafting leage wide.
Muzzin (83 EN, 66 PA, 66 PC, 79 DF, 63 SC) – Spurgeon (85 EN, 66 PA, 65 PC, 78 DF, 79 SC)
Schmidt (83 EN, 70 PA, 66 PC, 80 DF, 64 SC) - Hronek (88 EN, 67 PA, 67 PC, 78 DF, 68 SC)
Morrissey (86 EN, 70 PA, 65 PC, 81 DF, 55 SC) – Graves (78 EN, 62 PA, 67 PC, 75 DF, 66 SC)
When looking at the backend, there is no defenseman with less than 62 PA, 65 PC, 75 DF, and apart from Morrissey at 55 SC, no other defenseman is below 63 SC. In combination with a young, legitimate starter in Carter Hart (81 OV) with franchise potential for the next 10+ years, the Minnesota Wild hope to shutdown the high firepower of the western conference and start the counter attack with a smooth, fluid transition and continued pressure and offense from the backend.
The next article will look at the Minnesota Wild forward group. Limited in high end offense, but well rounded with 5 lines of pro-roster depth.