Feb 16, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum (7) during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild Sign UFA Defenceman Jonathon Blum

The Minnesota Wild have signed UFA defencman, former Nashville Predator, Jonathon Blum.

The news was officially announced at 4:30 PM (Irish time) today, after Michael Russo had said yesterday that the deal was all but done. Unfortunately, after he said this, Kovalchuk-mania began and the Blum news got lost in the mire. While I waited patiently all night for the final confirmation and terms of the signing to be announced, I tried some investigative journalism:

Alas, to no avail.

Last week I wrote about the need for the Wild to pursue another UFA defenceman to shore up the blue-line and challenge Clayton Stoner for his place. Well, Chuck Fletcher and his team have done just that by picking up, former 1st round pick for the Nashville Predators, Jonathon Blum.

 

Age: 24

Shoots: Right

Hometown: Long Beach, CA, USA

Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

Weight: 194 lb (88 kg; 13 st 12 lb)

 

Salary: (will update when the terms are announced)

Cap Hit: (“” “”)

Type: 2-Way

Years: 1

 

Blum was drafted 23rd overall in the 2007 Entry Draft. He turned pro in the AHL during the 08/09 season, before joining the Preds during 10/11. Since then he has dressed for a total of 91 regular season games and 12 playoff games in the NHL. He’s scored 7 goals and 17 assists (a total of 24 points. Internationally, he has represented Team USA on three occasions, winning silver at the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and has competed in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, finishing without a medal both times. Blum made $650,000 last year on a two-way contract. Reports seem to suggest that, while he did have a tough 2013, he was not tendered a qualifying offer mostly due to the huge logjam of defencemen on the Preds roster and coming through their system.

 

According to’ Hockey’s Future’:

Blum demonstrates outstanding mobility and often takes the initiative to carry the puck up ice.  What makes Blum so good is his explosive skating ability. Because he is not very large, he uses technique and a good poke-check to wrestle the puck away from opponents. He has amazing ice presence and is very rarely caught out of position, a key aspect of being an NHL defenseman.

 

Some quotes from SBNation’s Predators blog ‘On The Forecheck’, in their end-of-season review of Blum:

-“The unfortunate thing with Blum is how expectations were unfairly raised by his NHL debut in the spring of 2011. He looked spectacular during the stretch run that season, but most of that perception can be tied to a ridiculously fortunate run of puck luck.”

-”While Blum may not be demonstrating top-four potential these days, he could still provide value somewhere as a puck-moving 3rd-pair type of guy.”

 

Here’s a good quote from ‘CanucksArmy.com’ regarding Blum’s personal life:
On a personal level, Blum has been through a lot on his life, losing his twin sister in a house fire. He played his rookie year with the Giants as his mother was battling cancer. That is a heck of a lot of adversity for anyone to manage, let alone a teenager playing hockey far away from home. It isn’t fair to sit here and speculate as to how that has impacted him as a person, but I’d guess that it makes dealing with adversity like losing your spot on a hockey club a whole lot easier. 

 

Looking at the Player Usage Chart (courtesy of ‘somekindofninja.com’) for Nashville Predators defencmen who played over 30 games in 2013, Blum is one of 2 who finished with a positive Corsi Rel, albeit, playing average competition with fairly, though with tough O-zone start %:

(Click picture to enlarge)
 
 

 

A deeper look at some of his numbers from the previous season (courtesy of ‘BehindTheNet.ca’):

 

EV TOI/Gm

OZ %

QoT

QoC

5-5 Shots/60

5-5 Pts/60

Corsi On

Corsi Rel

13:02

42.7

-0.01

-0.33

2.29

1.00

-5.16

0.2

 

PP TOI/Gm

5-4 GF On/60

5-4 Pts/60

PK TOI/Gm

4-5 GA On/60

Taken

Drawn

On-Ice Sht%

On-Ice Sv%

PDO

1:09

1.55

0.00

0:05

39.56

0.4

0.3

8.38

931

1015

One thing to take away from these numbers is his poor performance on the powerplay. I don’t see this being much of a concern to the Wild as it’s unlikely he will be playing much 5v4 hockey this year. 

 It seems what the Wild have picked-up is a young, talented, two-way defenceman who has hit a rough patch in his career. This signing excites me because, like with Nino Niederreiter, there is a chance the player could revive their career in new surrounds and realise their potential. If Blum was squeezed out of Nashville due to their overflow of defencmen, then that is even better for the Wild.

I was unhappy with the current state of the Wild’s defence after Gilbert’s buyout, as I felt having Clayton Stoner slotting into the 3rd pairing unchallenged meant the team had not improved and Suter/Brodin would have to take on a huge workload again. With this signing, Blum now joins Prosser, Kampfer and Dumba in pushing for a spot and creating competition. As a 2-way defenceman who skates well, he seems like a good replacement for Tom Gilbert at a much cheaper price.

At this point, I would wager Blum lines-up alongside Keith Ballard on the 3rd pairing come opening night, which allows the Wild to send Dumba back to juniors for another year of development (barring an amazing performance in pre-season), possibly trade Stoner for a pick or someone who can improve the 4C position or maybe let Nate Prosser compete for a spot on the 4th line as a forward (he did play 4RW against the Sharks last year!).

 

In short, the Wild just got better.

 

Current defensive depth chart (in my eyes):

LEFT RIGHT
SUTER BRODIN
SCANDELLA SPURGEON
BALLARD BLUM
PROSSER STONER
KAMPFER DUMBA
CUMA CONNOLLY

 

Feel free to give me your thoughts, some feedback, or just some good ‘ol fashioned abuse on Twitter @GerDevine.

Also: Make sure to Tweet a welcome to the Wild’s newest defenceman @JonBlum7.

Tags: Clayton Stoner Jared Spurgeon Jonas Brodin Jonathan Blum Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators NHL Ryan Suter Tom Gilbert

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