The Wild’s defense has been the topic of debate and scrutiny over this season, here’s a look into the overrated and underrated Wild blueline.
The Wild defense core has seen improvement in my eyes from the end of last season and through the majority of this season up until the COVID-19 Pandemic caused the NHL to ultimately suspend the 19-20 season till further notice.
In a recent Minnesota Wild Prospects & Young Players @mnwprospects Twitter poll, Matt Dumba was voted in as the most overrated Wild defenseman at 53%.
Now, this is something I agree with. Dumba has shown that, while he plays a very aggressive game on the blueline, his numbers are trending downward. While posting 88 blocked shots may seem like a lot, it’s ranked 4th for Wild defensemen. Dumba does like to play an honest physical game as his 98 hits are only 2nd on the Wild behind a rugged Marcus Foligno.
The ugliness of numbers keeps trending up as his number of giveaways (35) ranks 2nd on the Wild behind Eric Staal (46). While the book may be out on Dumba he’s still a very lucrative trade asset.
After Dumba, Ryan Suter came in 2nd in the poll at 38%. Suter, a very solid and reliable defenseman, has accrued 93 blocked shots on the season, which ranks 3rd on the Wild and for their defense. Suter’s game could benefit a little more if he were to step up his physicality. His 48 hits rank 9th on the Wild.
Much like Dumba, Suter seems to turn over the puck at the very worst times during games. At 27 give-aways, Suter ranks 2nd among Wild defenders in that category behind Dumba. Suter lacks physical play and could try to regain a step or two.
Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon
The players ranked 3rd and 4th are Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon. Both are incredible because oh how effective they are in the small window they have. Brodin isn’t the most physical defender (41 hits) but his skill comes from his skating and how his gap control and spacing can lock down opposing players. Surely Dubnyk and Stalock both love having Brodin and Spurgeon in-front of them on the ice. Brodin and Spurgeon rank 1st & 2nd on the Wild in blocked shots (112 & 102 respectively). Spurgeon in his own right is a big-time playmaking defender in a small body. His speed and hockey IQ on the ice perpetually frustrate opposing offenses.
Carson Soucy, Brad Hunt, and Greg Pateryn
Rounding out the bottom three defensemen, we’ll talk about Carson Soucy, Brad Hunt, and Greg Pateryn. It’s hard to cover Pateryn because of his late start to the season due to a sports hernia late in the preseason. There just hasn’t been enough from him this season to give a real honest analysis.
Brad Hunt became quite a bit of a surprise for the Wild, ultimately started quarterbacking the power play and at one point was leading the team in scoring. Hunt often found himself the casualty of a healthy scratch in favor of a much slower, but defensively minded, Greg Pateryn.
Last but not least, there’s Carson Soucy. Soucy quickly became the subject of interest when allowed to step in for an injured Greg Pateryn during the season. Pateryn’s injury late in the preseason opened up a spot for either Soucy or Louie Belpedio to make the opening day roster. After a rather disappointing training camp the year prior, Soucy shined and ultimately won a spot with the pro squad.
His great 2-way play makes him the perfect formed defenseman on the Wild’s roster and to be quite frank, I’m sure he’s pushed someone out of a job. It must have been a pleasant surprise to have a top 4 defenseman in the system and not know it. Surely, Carson Soucy has claimed his place on the Wild’s blueline.
After this analysis, there seem to be a lot of ups and downs in the Minnesota Wild’s defense, but the more exciting thought with this group is looking toward the future. It seems Minnesota has always built from the Blueline. Now they can leverage their depth and quality to fix other holes.
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