First off, apologies for the delay. I’ve been stuck all day out of town with a doctor’s appointment and didn’t have access to a computer.
Well, in what certainly isn’t good news for the Wild–and 36 percent of all Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey Leagues–sensational sophomore Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin is out indefinitely with a broken cheekbone sustained off a dump-in within the opening minutes of Minnesota’s 2-0 home win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. To quote folks with the Wild, Brodin’s face is “a mess”. He’s in need of a lot of dental work, but fans are just happy it was his cheekbone and not his jaw or orbital bone.
With Minnesota’s top right-side defenseman down and out, it’s almost certain right-shots Nate Prosser and 2012 7th overall pick Mathew Dumba will be picking up the workload, especially with free agent signing Keith Ballard out with concussion symptoms.
“This is kind of the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” said Prosser, who played a solid 20 ½ minutes in Tuesday’s game. “Obviously you never want an injury; praying for Brods and hopefully a speedy recovery. But when a guy goes down, a guy’s got to step in and pick up their game. I’ve got to come in and be a good penalty killer, make a good first pass, be physical, chirp a little bit — whatever I can do to help out.”
There may be a few guys in front of him in Minnesota’s lineup, but what he brings to the table is the main reason he isn’t already wearing another team’s sweater.
“He’s a good player. He’s caught behind a lot of good players, but when Nate plays, we win a lot of games,” said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. “Teammates know exactly what they’re going to get from him every game.”
He’s certainly not going to take any nonsense. After absorbing a hit from former teammate Eric Nystrom Tuesday, Prosser didn’t take too kindly to it, dropping the gloves and forcing Nystrom to pay for his actions. It’s well known Nystrom hasn’t been too happy with the way things ended with the Wild.
In the meantime, Minnesota is without their No. 2 defenseman. Not only had Brodin improved on his already impressive defense, but he was showing a knack for this thing called “offense” prior to getting injured. In nine games, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft had scored three goals and three assists for six points and an even plus-minus rating on the season. In 45 games as a rookie last year, Brodin would score two goals and add nine assists for 11 points and a plus-3 rating in a spectacular defensive season that would see him named to the league’s All-Rookie Team.
Brodin’s departure from the lineup is a huge blow, no question. However, with Prosser and Dumba in the wings, the Wild have the depth to overcome it. But the team will need them to be at the very top of their game to do so. Does the fate of Minnesota’s season rest in the hands of these two defensemen? For the sake of the team, it’s to be hoped that it doesn’t, but that’s nothing to reflect on the abilities of the two. The Wild just need to find the back of the net.