The lockout is in progress, two weeks of regular season games are lost, with little progress seen. With both sides whining and blaming the other it’s the fans, team employees, arena workers and local businesses who are the big losers. Bettman with his gagged owners and the NHLPA (Donald Fehr) still aren’t talking about the biggest issues just discussing non-revenue related ones. If those were the problem we wouldn’t be in this lockout. Those issues would be negotiated during the season. So get to the point guys!! The lockout doesn’t stop chapter four of Minnesota Wild Greatest By Number though. This times we look at numbers 35, 37, 39, 41 before rounding out our look at the odd numbers and getting into the evens in chapter 5.
#35 Manny Fernandez (2000-07), Anton Khudobin (2009-11)
This goaltender matchup goes to Manny Fernandez. Manny appeared in 325 games over 13 years in the NHL compiling a 143 and 123 record. Khudobin has 7 NHL games under his belt with 5 wins and a single loss. Check back in a dozen years to see how this matchup looks but, right now it’s no contest. Fernandez was part of the Minnesota goalie tandem with Dwayne Roloson. Whether Manny could have put up better numbers being the clear number 1 goalie will never be known but his career 2.50 goals against average and .912 save % in the regular season are upper echelon marks. Fernandez also had a .927 save % and 2.00 GAA in 11 playoff contests. Known as tempermental and moody in the Wild locker room he was traded to Boston in 2008. His career ended after 2009 due to knee and back injuries.
#37 Wes Walz (2000-08), Josh Harding (2009-12)
Wes Walz is the clear winner here. A veteran of 13 seasons in the NHL spanning 19 years and 607 total games. Wes racked up 109 goals and 151 assists for a .43 point per game average. A leader in the locker room and a fan favorite Wes remains one of the most popular Wild players to date. Josh Harding is competing in his second category, taking the win at #29. He aint gonna be beating Wes here. Josh is the Wild’s goalie in waiting and waiting and waiting. Injuries have taken away an entire season while another opened the door for a goaltender named Niklas Backstrom. Josh, if he can stay healthy, will certainly be continuing his NHL career for years to come. Hopefully with the Wild.
#39 Ladislav Benysek (2000-01), Travis Roche (2000-01), Krystofer Kolanos (2008-09), Nate Prosser (2010-12)
Number 39 features three d-men vs a center. The center being Kolanos. This time I give the win to Ladislav Benysek the only player with more than 1 50 game NHL season. Prosser would be the up and comer in this group but doesn’t yet have the experience of Ladislav on the blue line. None of the players have been stars in the league with only Prosser and Kolanos still active at the NHL level. Benysek put up 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points with 74 penalty minutes over 161 games. Prosser so far in his young career shows 1 goal and 12 assists with 65 penalty minutes over 56 NHL contests. Prosser will take the title from Benysek if he can get a full season with the big club in St. Paul. There is a ton of AHL experience between these four players with Kolanos suiting up for no fewer than 9 AHL and 4 NHL teams since the 2001-02 season. That’s an impressive jersey collection!
#41 Martin Skoula (2005-09), Justin Falk (2010-11), Jed Ortmeyer (2011-12)
Old guard vs journeyman vs youngster that defines the battle at 41. Martin Skoula, Jed Ortmeyer, and Justin Falk in that order. Amid the shouts of F%$kin’ Skoula!!! I give him the win. While he did have some memorable gaffes for the Wild, he has put together a nice career. Over the course of 776 NHL games he has amassed 196 points (44 goals, 152 assists) with a +/- of +16. Martin is also proven to be durable, suiting up for more than 78 games 9 seasons out of 10 in the league. The Czech Republic native has spent the last 2 season in the KHL. Ortmeyer finishes second in this battle putting up 53 points during 345 NHL games over the course of 8 seasons. The youngster Falk with just 70 NHL games and 11 points over three seasons has a long way to go to catch up with either of the others.
That wraps up this chapter of Minnesota Wild Greatest By Number coming soon to Puck Gone Wild Chapter five where we wrap up the odds and move into the evens.