Feb 28, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Minnesota Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner (4) skates in warm up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Minnesota Wild Re-sign UFA Defenseman Clayton Stoner?

It has been over a week since the Minnesota Wild were eliminated in Game Six of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Chicago Blackhawks, and Wild blue liner Clayton Stoner is still tied for eighth in postseason hits by defensemen with 36.

Drafted in the third round (79th overall) in 2004, Stoner is the only remaining member of an utterly forgettable draft class. A veteran of three WHL seasons with the Tri-City Americans, the rugged defender toiled away for four seasons in the minors before cracking the Wild roster with two assists and a plus-1 rating in eight games during the 2009-10 season. He’s been with Minnesota ever since, notching four goals and 27 assists for 31 points and a plus-3 rating in 227 career regular season games.

With promising young defensemen entering the pro ranks this fall, the Wild have decisions to make on Stoner, fellow unrestricted free agent Nate Prosser and restricted free agent Jonathon Blum. Prosser and Blum are both right-shots, but their respective positions within the franchise could be threatened by the arrival of rookies Mathew Dumba and Christian Folin. At the moment, Folin is considered to have an inside track on any open position on Minnesota’s blue line.

However, while less talented than some other Wild defensemen, Stoner is the sandpaper sorely needed on the back end. This was especially true in Minnesota’s most recent playoff run, as the 6’4″ 216-pound heavyweight’s goal, two assists and plus-2 rating in 13 games were dwarfed by his 26 penalty minutes (PIM), 36 hits and a 53.1-percent Corsi rating. He was solid in all situations, useful and effective physically. In many ways, Stoner was actually quite impressive and is bound to walk into some decent money somewhere this offseason. There’s a good chance it won’t be Minnesota, though.

The Wild need another solid veteran defenseman, and there are a few enticing options on the free agent market. However, there’s still Keith Ballard to consider, and, with Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella already signed and playing big minutes, only one or two positions are open with it being highly unlikely any of those five receive significant time in the press box. With that in mind, there’s a good chance Minnesota lets Stoner walk. Still, any team that signs him can rest easy knowing they’ve added a quality defensive corps addition.


Tags: Clayton Stoner Free Agency

  • Jason Newstedt

    If the Wild want to continue with a solid forechecking plan then yes, keep him. Or get a different enforcer. It was Stoner, McCormick, and to a lesser extent Prosser and Cooke who put fear into the Aves and kept the Blackhawks guessing for a couple of games. Those hits were not only necessary, but it was the first time in quite a long time I saw Minnesota look and act like a real NHL team that took the playoffs seriously.
    None of this was thanks to Yeo. He needs to go.

    • Dakota Case

      Hmm, care to elaborate on this? Prosser and Cooke are Yeo’s guys, and he likes Stoner’s game, too.

      • Jason Newstedt

        Not too much to elaborate on. I just think that Yeo contributed very little to the playoff run. It makes my blood boil to see that much talent on the bench, yet they actually had to fight for a wildcard when they should have been *at least* 5th in the division – thanks to their massive collapse at the end of the season. (We seem to have forgotten the topic of Yeo’s job on the chopping block during this time.)
        I just have a very hard time believing that Yeo had anything to do with the solid offensive effort and rise in forechecking we saw once we got into the playoffs. And much like Bouchard and Laaksonen did with Lemaire, I think the players were tired of the timid approach to each game and took it upon themselves to change things up. I only wonder how much further they could’ve gone with a better coach behind them.

  • Carla Weaver

    I would be sad to see Clayton go but I’d love to see either Paul Martin or Matt Niskanen in the green & red. They aren’t as physical as Stoner though. You certainly had to love Stoner’s game during the playoffs.