According to sources, the Minnesota Wild have signed one of the league’s best in the circle to a pro tryout agreement.
Due to time constraints, here’s what Russo has to say:
The Wild has signed veteran center David Steckel to a pro tryout, multiple sources say. Steckel, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound native of Milwaukee and former Ohio State standout, has long been one of the NHL’s best in the faceoff circle.
The 2001 first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings has played eight seasons for Anaheim, New Jersey, Toronto and Washington. The left-shot pivot won 57.1 percent of his draws last season for Anaheim.
Two years ago, he ranked sixth in the NHL (58 percent), in 2010-11 he led the NHL by winning 62.3 percent of his draws, he ranked second in 2009-10 (59.2 percent), fifth in 2008-09 (57.9 percent) and seventh in 2007-08 (56.3 percent).
He’s a big body, responsible defensively, works hard and gritty. He has scored 33 goals and 79 assists in 419 games.
A pro tryout doesn’t bind Steckel to Minnesota. He will remain an unrestricted free agent throughout training camp and can sign with any team.
Up the middle right now for the Wild, the depth chart goes Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle/Mikael Granlund/Erik Haula battling for No. 2 center, Kyle Brodziak, Zenon Konopka, Jake Dowell. The question is whether Steckel can unseat any of those players. Steckel is likely battling for third- or fourth-line center, which could move Brodziak up to No. 2 if Steckel earns a spot and maybe Coyle/Granlund back to the wing. What’s cool about this training camp is very few things are set in stone. As Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher have said, line combinations and even positions for players are completely up in the air, which should make for plenty of fun storylines in camp.
My take? I love it. At 6’6″ and 215-pounds, he brings much needed size and grit we just don’t have down the middle. Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell, Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, Jake Dowell and now Steckel–I absolutely love how this bottom-6 forward corps is shaping up. If the youngsters prove they belong in the top-6, this is going to be a really fun team to watch this season.
We’ll kick off coverage of Winnipeg Jets Week later this afternoon. See you then!