Minnesota Wild: 2018-19 Season Preview of Matt Hendricks

WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 27: Matt Hendricks #15 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during a second period face-off against the Minnesota Wild at the Bell MTS Place on November 27, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jets defeated the Wild 7-2. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 27: Matt Hendricks #15 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during a second period face-off against the Minnesota Wild at the Bell MTS Place on November 27, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jets defeated the Wild 7-2. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Matt Hendricks jumped the proverbial “red line” this summer when he joined the Minnesota Wild as a free agent addition. Today, we look at #15 with 15 days until preseason.

As a 37-year old veteran forward with 10 years of NHL experience, Matt Hendricks signed a one-year contract to return home to the Minnesota Wild for the 2018-19 season. Should we expect to see much out of a career 4th line player on this roster?


Matt Hendricks is a native of Blaine, MN just north of the Twin-Cities, where he played his high school hockey before taking his college hockey at nearby St.Cloud State University (SCSU).

Hendricks was drafted in the 4th round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators, as well as in the 2000 USHL Entry Draft by the Lincoln Stars. Despite this, Hendricks chose to pursue his education at SCSU.

Hendricks was never an offensive weapon, though he did have a knack for consistently finding his way to the scoreboard that was never what he was known for. He has always been a hard hitting and gritty team player that doesn’t have a problem dropping the gloves to stand-up for a teammate.

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He finished his NCAA career with 112 points and 193 PIM through 154 games, and spending his senior year as team captain. As many players are wont to do, Hendricks made the pro jump immediately following his final college season.

Where Hendricks did things differently, however, is that he turned down the contract offer of the team that drafted him and opted to sign a deal in the ECHL. He would play 3 years between the ECHL and the AHL, before finally signing a deal with an NHL team as he signed to the Boston Bruins.

Hendricks would play another year with the Providence Bruins in the AHL, and then be traded to the Colorado Avalanche before ever seeing an NHL game in Boston. Again, he would start the year in the AHL.

He finally received his NHL call-up in March 2009, and played 4 games to finish the year. He would make the NHL roster out of training camp with the Avs for the 2009-10 season, and has never seen the AHL since.

Hendricks plays a style of hockey that does not have a stable place in today’s NHL, and thus the Minnesota Wild will be his 6th NHL team in 10 seasons. After Colorado, he spent 3 years in Washington, a half season in Nashville, 3 and a half years in Edmonton, and last season in Winnipeg.

His most memorable career highlights are all fights (703 PIM), yet he has also accumulated 113 points through 581 games. What I found of fight highlights for him, he can throw haymakers but tends to struggle to maintain his balance in a fist fight on skates.

Season Outlook

Last season, Matt Hendricks played 60 games for the Winnipeg Jets in the regular season and 5 more in the playoffs. This season, he comes across the border and hopes to lead the Minnesota Wild with the same amount of heart and guts that has made him a fan favorite everywhere he’s been.

When I think of Matt Hendricks, I think of a player built in the same mold as the late great Derek Boogaard (but not quite as good a fighter as Boogey). With Hendricks in the lineup, you will never need to worry about a player taking an unnecessary run at our star players because they will need to answer to Hendricks’s fists.

Looking through a history of Hendricks’ fights over the years, two things became blatantly obvious to me. The majority of his fights were initiated in defense of Hendricks teammates taking late and/or heavy hits, and that when he fights it is done with reckless abandon where he only cares to land his blows without worrying for wins or losses.

Per hockeyfights.com, the general consensus is that Hendricks loses more fights than he wins. It’s not about winning the fight, though, it’s about getting the crowd and the bench fired up to battle and not be afraid of a hit.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is very familiar with what Hendricks has to offer, as the two were together in the AHL in 2006-07, and again for a season with Washington in 2010-11. Perhaps coincidentally, that season in Washington was Hendricks best NHL Season as he set career highs in games played, assists, points, and penalty minutes, which he has never been able to replicate since.

The role Hendricks can fill in Minnesota is a niche spot that the coaches will need to determine the best course of action to determine playing time. Hendricks is currently lost in the shuffle for 4th line minutes among many players.

I personally would see him as the 13th forward, capable of being brought in from the press box when the coaches want a larger lineup for the more physical teams. This would also allow him to remain at practice and work with the younger players to bulk up and prepare them for the heavy hitters around the league.

Expect him to dress for 40+ games, 5-10 fights for sure, and spend most of his time working with the guys the Minnesota Wild would like to develop to energy players with more of an edge. Perhaps Charlie Coyle (if he doesn’t get traded), Jordan Greenway, or Marcus Foligno.

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There’s not a lot of upside to a 37-year old on a minimum one-year contract, but familiarity with the coach and the system may see Boudreau put more trust in his veteran than us as fans could see on paper looking at the skilled younger players the Wild have to work with.