Minnesota Wild defenseman Nick Seeler recorded his first NHL goal against the St.Louis Blues on Saturday Night, in what ended up being a big game for the rookie defender.
Nick Seeler has had a fantastic start to his NHL career, and more importantly to the 2018-19 NHL season as a part of the Minnesota Wild defense. I have written previously about trying to get the youngster more ice-time, but tonight he proved he doesn’t need to be on the ice more to improve his production.
As a casual observer, one may view Seeler on the third defensive pairing as being a weak spot of the Minnesota Wild. That would be poorly scouted information, however, if it were to be passed on to the coaching staff of any NHL team.
Seeler entered Monday’s game against the St.Louis Blues at an even +/-, with zero points through 12 games this season. That even rating is the key to focus on here. Seeler is not playing “easy” minutes, or getting a casual ride at the NHL level. Coach Bruce Boudreau rolls his defensive pairings out quite openly without a ton of concern for matchups.
This is a liberty allowed to the Minnesota Wild coach by the fact that all 6 of the defensemen on this team are capable of defending against team’s best players on any given night. Including the young Seeler.
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Against St.Louis, Nick Seeler opened the scoring less than 5 minutes into the game. He unleashed his shot from the point, and Eric Staal made a fancy tip to pot the puck in the back of the net. Shots like this from Seeler have been few this season, but he was just getting started in this game.
Less than a minute after Staal’s goal, still on the ice for the exact same shift, Seeler released a slap shot from the same point on the ice. With Jordan Greenway setup screening Blues’ goalie Jake Allen, the puck managed to find its way through to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead less than 2 minutes in. Seeler’s first NHL goal of his young career.
Seeler wasn’t done yet, though. Midway through the 3rd period with the Minnesota Wild leading 4-1, Seeler released a shot from the blue line nearly identical to his first period assist. This one sailed high for a shoulder height tip from Marcus Foligno before Eric Fehr deposited it behind Allen.
All in all it ended up as a 3 point night for Seeler, the first (regular season) multiple point night of his short NHL career. He finished as a +4 with 4 shots on goal in only 13:14 of Ice time. Maybe he doesn’t need to be on for more ice time yet, but if he keeps performing like this he will force himself into more time on ice before long.
Offensive outputs like this may be an anomaly for a defensive player like Seeler, who is largely viewed more for his physical play and defensive ability than for his scoring. It’s encouraging to see him start to shoot the puck more from the point, and get involved with the offense at times.
The future is bright for #36. He has goal #1 finally under his belt, after 35 regular season NHL games. Let’s hope #2 doesn’t take him nearly as long.