Although not the biggest star in the lineup, Matt Hendricks has logged an average of eight minutes and thirty seconds this year for the Minnesota Wild; a significant amount for a fourth liner.
But the Minnesota native suffered a lower body injury last Tuesday night, and now the Minnesota Wild will have to look elsewhere to fill his Matt Hendricks’ slot in the lineup.
As of right now it appears Matt Read, the former Philadelphia Flyer will take over Matt Hendricks’ spot in the lineup. Read, although not a big body like Hendricks, has a game that fits a fourth line role well, but that isn’t where he’s expected to be.
Read will start on the first line, and we can only hope he brings a little scoring touch. But Read really isn’t known as much for his scoring ability as he is his gritty play, and in my opinion the Minnesota Wild could use someone who has a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net.
Why not look to a guy that can help with a snakebite. Why not look to a player like Kyle Rau? Or even a rookie in Gerry Fitzgerald.
Rau, although not a mainstay in the NHL, has the capability to put up points. With fifty points in sixty-nine games last year, and averaging a point per game right now down in Iowa, with two goals and an assist, it’s obvious he’s feeling it, and that’s something the Wild could use, even in a fourth line role.
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Fitzgerald, a rookie out of Bemidji State University, has been on a tear for the Iowa club in its first three games, averaging over a point per contest.
With no NHL experience, the big show could take some getting used to, and that scoring may not come as easy, but a little youth in the lineup may help jump-start an ageing club with early season scoring troubles.
There are also some free agent options I think the Minnesota Wild should consider. One that really peaks my interest is Tomas Jurco.
Jurco, the former 35th pick overall, hasn’t panned out like the Red Wings had hoped when they drafted him. But at twenty-six years old, there is plenty of time to turn around what has been a sub-par NHL career.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of Matt Read, I was excited to see the Minnesota Wild sign him this off-season; he might even be a bargain when all is said and done. I love his style of play, and the fact that he’s a Bemidji State product, playing back in the state where he played his college hockey, has got to light a fire in this guy knowing he’s playing in front of the fans that know him so well.
So maybe I just need to shut up, and see how this plays out. Maybe Matt Read will play so well that we won’t even see him headed back down I-35 to Iowa. Maybe we’ll see the Matt Read of old, the one that put up forty-seven points in 2011-2012 for the Flyers.
What I know for sure, is whatever Matt Read we do see, let’s hope it’s one that can help put a spark in this team, a spark that can lead the Minnesota Wild in the right direction.