Chapter Three: Minnesota Wild Greatest By Number


Josh Harding: The Greatest Number 31? Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

Here we go with the third installment of this Wild ride I call the Minnesota Wild Greatest By Number. Today we’ll examine numbers 23, 25,  27, 29, 31, 33, and 83. We’re working our way through the odd numbers, coming up next week we’ll move on to the evens. So far some of the results have not been what I expected at first glance. The whole career production vs popular with fans vs a couple of good years.  At this point no Hockey Hall Of Fame members to look at either. Through the 1011-12 season no one who has played for the wild has been enshrined in the HHOF. That could change over the next few years as some of the best the Wild have seen will get their shot at the hall. Whether any of them go in as a member of the Minnesota Wild remains to be seen. As of the writing of this the CBA deal is still not done and lockout looms over the NHL season. One thing is for sure, the NHL will be back. If not sooner it will be later. They want our hard earned dollars too much and we want the best hockey in the world too much. I mean seriously, what are we gonna do start watching the NBA? College, AHL, and Juniors may help to fill the void but, it’s NOT the NHL. We love the NHL because it is THE GREATEST SHOW ON ICE! It will be back as soon as they figure out how to divide up the billions we give them. I know if the my boss was making, not losing, money and wanted me to take a pay cut I’d say no.  I also know that the purpose of any business is to maximize profit and minimize expenditures. There’s the conflict in a nutshell. Until they figure it out let’s look at the next group of the Wilds Greatest By Number.

#23  Pavel Patera (2000-01), Jason Marshall (2001-04), Scott Ferguson (2005-06), Jason Morgan (2006-07), Petr Kalus (2010), Cody Almond (2010), Eric Nystrom (2010-11), Jeff Taffe (2011-12)

Number 23 is tied for 2nd on the Minnesota Wild most worn list and the most popular odd number. The eight players who have suited up with the 23 on their backs are quickly cut to three in the greatest race, Marshall, Nystrom and Taffe. The winner is Jason Marshall who played a total of 526 NHL games over a 14year career with 6 teams. Tough guy Marshall compiled 1004 penalty minutes while scoring 67 points. (16 goals, 51 assists) Jason dropped the gloves and fought 52 times during his NHL career facing a variety of opponents. Eric Nystron finishes a strong second to Marshall with 360 NHL games over six years in the league. He’s scored 39 goals added 33 helpers along with a gritty presence on the ice. Nystrom has  27 fights in his NHL career.

#25  Sergei Krivokrasov (2000-02), Rickard Wallin (2002-04), Randy Robitaille (2005-06),  Eric Belanger (2007-10), Cam Barker (2010-11), Nick Johnson (2011-12)

The number 25 title goes to Eric Belanger. He beats out Krivokrasov and Robitaille in a close race. Over the course of 794 NHL games Eric has scored 138 goals and 217 assists for a .45 point per game average. All three are well traveled playing for a total of 21 teams between them. Belanger had the best shooting accuracy at 10.5% to the others 9.6 %. He also popped in 28 power play and 19 shorthanded goals showing value on special teams as well as even strength. Eric played in 41 playoff games for five teams scoring 7 points equaling the output of the other two combined. Belanger also gets the nod for longevity 12 years in the league and retirement still a few years off.

#27 Sean O’Donnell (2000-01), Kyle Wanvig (2002-06), Joel Ward (2006-07), Nathan Smith (2009), Cody Almond (2010-12)

Number 27 is no contest. Sean O’Donnell the first captain in Minnesota Wild history and veteran of 1224 NHL games, that’s 784 more games than all the other 27’s combined.  He’s suited up for 8 different teams in his 17 years in the league scoring 31 goals and adding 198 helpers. A skilled fighter O’Donnell has recorded at least one fight in each of his 17 seasons, dropping the gloves a whopping 107 times total. A playoff veteran of 106 games he has his name on the Stanley Cup, winning with the Ducks in 2007. Joel Ward falls into the “ones we let get away” category. Since being signed as a free agent by the Predators in 2008 he has averaged 76 games, 12 goals, and 18 assists per season. None of the others come close to Sean O’Donnell in terms of longevity, skill and toughness.

#29 Jamie McLennan (2000-01), Josh Harding (2005-09), Jed Ortmeyer (2011), Jon Disalvatore (2011)

The winner here is Josh Harding in a battle of the goalies. Yes, I know he wears no. 37 now. He won’t win the number 37 battle so he gets the victory here. Josh vs Jamie, .350 winning percentage to .314, 7 seasons vs 11, .916 vs .898 save %. Josh also has the edge in average goals against at 2.65 to McLennan’s 2.68. Shootout and ties don’t come into play here due to playing in different eras of goaltending. Harding is the Minnesota Wild backup and number one in waiting. Injuries at key times have stopped his climb up the depth chart. McLennan spent his career as a backup.

#31 David Brumby (2000-01), Zac Bierk (2000-01), Derek Gustafson (2001-03), Dieter Kochan (2002-03), Miroslav Kopriva (2006-07), Wade Dubielewicz (2009-10), Matt Hackett (2011-12)

Here we have a battle of the “who’s that?” goalies. These seven have a grand total of 128 games of NHL experience between them. This comes down to Dubielewicz and Bierk who have the most NHL games at 47 and 43. Wade Dubielewicz wins this one with an 18-16 win/loss record, the only winning record in the group. His .914 save % tops Bierk’s .901 along with his 2.65 vs 3.18 goals against average. A rather non-descript group with the exception of young Matt Hackett. He has only a dozen games in the league but figures into Minnesota’s long term plans in goal. With a .922 save % and GAA of 2.38 expect to see more of Mr. Hackett in the future.

 #33 Scott Pellerin (2000-01), Sergei Zholtok (2001-04), Petteri Nummelin (2006-08)

The winner here is Sergei Zholtok in a battle of wing vs center. The Latvian born Zholtok tragically passed away during the 2004-05 lockout while playing in Europe. He Collapsed on the way to the dressing room during a game in Belarus and died November 3, 2004. His career numbers, had played longer, would have made this an easy choice. Sergei played 588 regular season and 45 playoff games during his 10 year NHL career. Scott Pellerin played in 536 NHL contests during his 11 years in the league. Zholtok’s 258 points (111goals, 147assists) tops Pellerin’s 198 (72goals, 126  assists). 37% of Zholtok’s goals came during the power play as opposed to Pellerin’s 7%. One area won by Scott is shorthanded goals,totaling 14 in his career to “Zho’s” 0. Zholtok was an integeral part of the Wild’s run to the Western Conference finals in 2003 playing in 18 games and tallying a pair of goals and 11 assists.

Now we’ll close out the odd single player numbers with number 83. Next up the last of the contested odds and the start of the evens.

#83 Matt Foy (2005-08)

Matt Foy  played in 56 regular season and one post season game for the Minnesota Wild.He totaled 6 goals with 7 assists and  48 penalty minutes over three NHL seasons. The speedy Foy is the number 83 winner by default.