Today we continue our tour of the Wilds Greatest By Number with numbers 15, 17, 19, 21, 59, 65, 67,and 79. As I mentioned in the previous article, popularity doesn’t necessarily equal best. I welcome any arguments for other players in the comment section. That said here’s my picks. Coming up on Friday we’ll look at the rest of the odds!
#15 J.J. Daigneault (2000-01) Andrew Brunette (2001-04; 2008-11) James Sheppard (2007-08)
The competition in this one can be characterized as wing vs defenseman vs Bust. Bruno vs JJ vs Shep. Yes, it’s instantly a two man race, with Andrew Brunette winning by a nose or maybe a butt. Bruno won’t win any speed competitions but just try to move him away from your net. When he gets set up he’s not going anywhere. In 16 NHL campaigns Brunette has produced 268 goals, 465 assists, for 733 points and a tiny .28 penalty minutes per game in that span. His durability is also impressive. Bruno has played no fewer than 77 games per season since his first full campaign in 1998. One more interesting tidbit is that Brunette was the 174th pick taken in the 7th round of the 1993 draft by Washington. A late round gem. Daigneault makes this discussion by the slimmest of margins. He played just 1 of his 899 career NHL games with the Wild in the inaugural 2000-01 season. The rest of his career spread over 9 teams and an 20 years. The defenseman put up 53 goals, 197 assists for 250 points of which zero were with Minnesota. I really can’t give him serious consideration for the #15 crown that sits firmly atop Brunette”s head.
#17 Filip Kuba (2000-06) Wyatt Smith (2006-07) Todd Fedoruk (2007-08) Petr Sykora (2009) Casey Wellman (2010-11) Nick Palmieri (2012)
I see no.17 as a two player contest between Sykora and Kuba. D-man vs wing. Overall I give this one to Petr Sykora. We’ll start with Filip, the 2004 All-Star for the Wild. Despite his problems keeping the puck in the zone while playing the point on the power play he’s managed to average 25 points a season over 13 years in the league 79% of which were assists. He’s totaled 69 goals and 254 helpers with 4 different teams while average 61 games a season. While with the Wild he was never worse than a -7 over 5 seasons on the blue line.
Sykora’s 721 well balanced points (323 goals, 398 assists) over 1017 career games spanning 16 NHL seasons average out to .71 points per game. His time with the Wild was brief just 14 games in 2010. He’s averaged 64 games a year over his career. The versatile right wing has been valuable on the power play scoring 111 of his 323 goals with the man advantage. He also has bee valuable in the post season with 133 career playoff games during which hes put up 34 goals and 40 assists. Sykora is no liability defensively either at a +58 career mark in the regular season and a +22 in the playoffs. He’s a two time Stanley Cup champ winning with the Devils in 2000 and the Penguins in 2009. Petr has appeared in 6 Stanley Cup finals during his career building an impressive resume along the way.
#19 Jeff Nielsen (2000-01) David Cullen (2001-02) Stephane Veilleux (2002-09; 2012) Andy Hilbert (2009) Patrick O’Sullivan (2010-11)
Here we have a matchup with no “star power”. Narrowing the field to Hilbert, O’Sullivan, and Veilleux brings things more into focus with a tough final decision between Stephane and Patrick. In the final analysis I give the nod to Stephane Veilleux. Here’s why: Veilleux has put up career numbers of 46 goals, 55 assists for 101 points. O’Sullivan has slightly better marks with 58 goals, 103 assists for 163 points. I’d expect to see the assist number higher with O’Sullivan as a center than with Veilleux on the wing. Neither has a great +/- mark with both slightly worse than -60. Stphane is entering his 10th year in the league since being drafted 93rd overall by the Wild in 2001. O’Sullivan has a shorter tenure with 8 seasons under his belt and a total of 334 regular season games played after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft by the Wild.He doesn’t yet have a job lined up for this year. One big difference between the two is hits. Veilleux plays with an edge and likes to throw his 6’1″, 200lb body at opponents while O’sullivan prefers to move the puck and try to skate around them.
#21 Cam Stewart (2000-02) Eric Chouinard (2003-04) Mikko Koivu (2005-06) Mark Parrish (2006-08) Kyle Brodziak (2009-12)
For no. 21 I’m invoking the one number per player rule. Mikko Koivu would win this one as well but he aready took honors for no.9. That said, the no. 21 title goes to Mark Parrish
. The race was between Parrish and Brodziak but the numbers, longevity, and intangibles favor Mark. Parrish’s 216 goals and 171 assists over 722 career games equate to a .54 points per game average, that beats Brodziak’s .41. Another impressive stat is Parrish’s 17% shooting accuracy. He was a mainstay on the power play with a third of his production coming on the man advantage. The native Minnesotan and St. Cloud State University product also appeared in 27 career playoff games with three teams. That tops Brodziaks zero.
#59 Kris Fredheim (2011-12)
Appearing in just 3 games with the Wild during the 2011-12 season Kris is the definition of best player to wear a number by default. No goals, No assists, and a -2 rating with 2 penalty minutes are his career numbers.
#65 Tyler Cuma (2012)
The youngster Cuma has but a single game of NHL experience. He is expected to see more time with the Wild this year. 1 game, 0 goals, o assists, etc. His is the solo no. 65.
#67 Benoit Pouliot (2006-09)
During the course of Pouliot’s 7 yr NHL career he has not lived up to the expectations being the 4th overall pick in the 2005 draft. In 257 games he has just 53 goals and 51 assists. He’s now on his 4th NHL team and is widely considered to be one of if not the biggest bust in Wild draft history.
#79 Jarod Palmer (2011)
Yet another recent short timer. 6 NHL games played 1goal, 0 asissts, -2 rating, 4 penalty minutes.
That’s chapter two in the tour through the greatest Wild players by number. Coming up on Friday Chapter 3. Go Wild and please let the be a new CBA soon.