Welcome to the off-season Minnesota Wild fans. While the Wild started the off-season later than they have in 11 years, it was still too soon in my book. Next season they hope to be playing through May into June. Starting today GonePuckWild.com is going to take you on a personal personnel tour of the Minnesota Wild from A to Z. Between now and the middle of September, the start of training camp, we will be profiling every player who has ever put on the Iron Range Red, Forest Green, Harvest Gold and Minnesota Wheat. We’ll start with Cody Almond and end with Andrei Zyuzin and cover all 218 players in between. That’s the total, 220 players, who have suited up and played at least one game for the Minnesota Wild during a NHL regular season or Stanley Cup Playoff game from their first contest in October of 2000 through their last battle of 2014 on May 13th. Each day we’ll feature 1 or more players covering their career statistics, their route to the NHL and where are they now. So, sit back, grab a beverage and enjoy this tour of your Minnesota Wild!
Cody Almond is today’s featured player. Cody is 24 years of age and was born in Calgary, Alberta Canada on July 24th 1989. He stands 6′ 2″ tall and weighs in at 199 lbs. Almond plays center with a left hand shot. He was drafted by the Wild in 2007 in the 5th round, the 140th overall pick. Minnesota’s 2007 draftees also included; Colton Gillies 1st round/16th overall, Justin Falk 4th round/110th overall, Harri Ilvonen 6th round/ 170th overall, and finally Carson McMillan taken in the 7th round with the 200th overall pick. This was definitely not one of the Minnesota Wild’s strongest draft classes.
Almond’s road to the NHL started with a stint with the Calgary Stampeders of the SAMHL in 2004-05. He appeared in 30 games compiling some impressive statistics including 28 goals and 15 assists for 43 points. Cody was no stranger to the penalty box as well, accumulating a total of 108 penalty minutes in just those 30 contests. The next season Almond moved to the WHL, playing for the Kelowna Rockets. In his first season with the team he only saw action in 23 games and his production plummeted. He totaled just 2 goals, 1 assist and 7 penalty minutes in 2005-06. Almond spent the next three seasons with Kelowna playing 68 to 70 games each season. In 2006-07 his stats with the Rockets improved greatly as he totaled 43 points on 15 goals and 28 assists. He also accumulated 72 penalty minutes. His defensive play was still developing as he finished the season with a -14 rating.
It was after this season that Cody Almond was taken with the 140th overall pick in the fifth round of the NHL entry draft by the Minnesota Wild. The 2007 draft was held at Nationwide Arena in Coloumbus Ohio, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 2007-08, his third season with the Rockets Cody’s number increased yet again as he totaled 22 goals, 34 assists and passed the century mark in PIMS with 114. Almond ranked fourth on the team in goals, third in assists, second in PIMS, and fourth in points. His 56 points were ahead of Tyson Barrie‘s 43 pts. and behind Jamie Benn‘s 65 pts.
Cody would play one more season with the Kelowna Rockets with his stats improving yet again. In the 2008-09 campaign Almond would score 33 goals, add 33 assists, pile up 105 minutes in penalties and improve his +/- to a +15 over the course of 70 games. His 66 points would rank him 3rd on a team that won the WHL Championship while he was tied for second in goals, fifth in assists, third in PIMS. This was a Rockets team loaded with NHL talent including, Jamie Benn, Tyson Barrie, Tyler Myers, Mikael Backlund, Brett Bulmer, and Scott Hannan.
In 2009 Cody made the jump to the pro ranks as he officially joined the Minnesota Wild organization and reported to Houston as a member of the AHL Aeros. In his first year as a pro Almond played in 48 games as a member of the Houston Aeros and mads his NHL debut as the Minnesota Wild faced the Atlanta Thrashers at the Xcel Energy Center. In his first game in the show Cody played 4 shifts totaling 2:59 of ice time. He had a single shot on goal for his only stat in his first game wearing the Wild’s home colors. He would play in a total of 7 games in the 2009-10 season, one in February, one in March and five in the month of April. It was during a game on April 4th that Almond would score his first NHL goal. It came against the Vancouver Canuks. If you’re going to score your first NHL goal, there is no better team for a Wild player to do it against than the Canucks.
Almond spent the majority of his time in 2009 with the Houston Aeros where he picked up 7 goals and 11 assists to go with a -7 rating and 77 PIMS. Cody found that the jump from juniors to the AHL and NHL ranks was a big one and he struggled a bit appearing in a total of 55 regular season games. The 2010-11 season was again a struggle for Almond to make the transition to the NHL roster. He scored 15 goals and added 19 assists for the Aeros in 65 games, but in 8 games with the Wild he scored zero goals, zero assists, and a pair of penalty minutes and a +/- rating of 0. Basically his game just wasn’t translating well to the speed and skill needed at the NHL level.
In the 2011-12 season Almond would again perform fairly well at the AHL level, but struggled to make the grade in the NHL. His games played with Houston dropped to 48 and his production fell by more than half. He scored just 7 goals and 8 assists in those games. With the NHL Minnesota Wild he played 10 games scoring a single goal, had zero assists, a -5 rating and 15 penalty minutes. This would be his final season in the Wild organization. Almond tried to make it as a tough guy accumulating 26 fighting majors over three seasons as a pro. The vast majority of those fight were at the AHL level (24) with only 2 against NHL opponents.
Cody Almond traveled to Europe for the 2012-13 and 2013-24 seasons after signing a three year deal with HC Geneve Servette of the Swiss-A league. In his 25 career games with the Minnesota Wild Almond totaled 2 goals, 0 assists, a -8 rating and 26 PIMS. Cody is another example of a player who showed great promise in juniors and the AHL but just couldn’t quite make the transition to the faster, highly skilled, and tougher NHL. Cody Almond joins the ranks of Minnesota Wild 5th round draft picks who didn’t make it in the NHL including, Eero Elo, Niko Hovinen, Anthony Aiello, Jean-Claude Sawyer, Armands Berzins, and Maxim Sushinsky. In their draft history the Wild have yet to find any NHL caliber players with a fifth round pick. Cody Almond may well be the best 5th rounder the Wild have ever selected.
That’s the first player profile in GonePuckWild.com’s Wild A-Z project. Next up we’ll take a look at defenseman Chris Armstrong.