Monthly Archives: September 2016

3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #4

Posted by Kenney on September 30, 2016
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4. Zach Parise – LW

4 Seasons,  259 Games,  105 Goals,  104 Assists,  209 Points

Zach Parise signed a 13 year contract with the Wild as an unrestricted free agent on July 4th, 2012. For some it was a great Independence Day, for others, looking at you NJ, it was not. With the exception of playing college hockey for the University North Dakota, Zach is strongly rooted in Minnesota. His father, JP, captained the Minnesota North Stars, which led to Zach being born and raised in Minneapolis, and he played for the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN.

Nicknamed “Captain America”, his leadership skills on the ice cannot be rivaled. When he is not playing, you can see how much the entire team is affected and how much life seems to be sucked out of his teammates. His hard work and lead-by-example mentality are shown in his numbers, being in the top 1 or 2 spots for goals and points every season he’s played with the Wild, including leading the NHL in hat tricks during the 2015-16 season with 3.

Although he has not yet “Kissed the Cup” (something we’re hopeful he’ll help the Wild win), he does have a few medals to his name. In 2002 he helped win the Gold for Team USA in the World Juniors U18, and in the 2004 World Juniors, Gold again for Team USA, as well as a Silver medal in the 2010 Olympic Games.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #5

Posted by Aaron on September 29, 2016
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5. Brent Burns – D/RW

7 Seasons,  453 Games,  55 Goals,  128 Assists,  183 Points

Drafted 20th overall in 2003 out of the OHL, where he played  as a right winger, Brent Burns was promptly converted into a defenseman by Jacque Lemaire and as an 18 year-old, spot started through most of his rookie season. With limited ice-time, he struggled and was likely not quite ready for the NHL. Luckily Gary Bettman decided to deprive all hockey fans in 2004-2005, and that gave Brent a chance to develop with the Houston Aeros.

In the two years following the lockout, Burns would flash hints of the talent that was developing, and by his 4th NHL season, he had officially arrived, scoring 43 points over the full 82 game schedule. His scoring touch would continue over the next two seasons, as he split time between playing defense and right wing, but he battled several injuries, including missing a significant amount of time due to a series of concussions.

2010-2011 saw him back on the ice full time, and he put up another impressive season with 46 points. This was short lived though, as the following summer he was traded during the draft, along with a 2nd round draft pick, for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and San Jose’s 1st round pick (who turned out to be Zach Philips).

He is 6th all-time in games played, 6th in assists and 7th in points. Amongst defenseman, he ranks 1st in goals, 2nd in assists and 1st in points.

Of course, he’s 1st in facial hair as well.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #6

Posted by Aaron on September 28, 2016
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6. Pierre-Marc Bouchard – LW/C

10 Seasons,  565 Games,  106 Goals,  241 Assists,  347 Points

It’s easy to marginalize Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s career with the Wild, as it petered out after a series of debilitating concussions, but there’s no doubt on the impact he had on the Wild teams of the 2000’s.

Drafted by the Wild with the 8th overall pick in the 2002 draft, PMB took the fast track to the NHL, getting to play as an 18 year-old right out of the draft. Primarily a playmaker, he had middling success in his first two pro seasons, but after the lost season (Thanks Bettman) in which PMB spent with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston, he seemed to have caught up to the NHL speed. Pierre-Marc averaged 60 points over the next two seasons, racking up 50 and 30 assists respectively. His skill was blossoming and he became a mainstay in the Wild lineup, even providing a beautiful scoring touch, dazzling fans with the now-banned spin-o-rama during shootouts (and even in regular play).

Unfortunately near the end of the 2008-2009 season, PMB suffered a concussion that would knock him out for the rest of that season, all but one game of the next, and 22 of the 2010-2011 season. Over the next two seasons he suffered ongoing effects of post-concussion syndrome, and despite still being relatively effective, he only played 139 games during the last three seasons of his Wild career.

In 2013 he moved on from the Wild, playing one season with the NY Islanders and it’s AHL affiliate, before moving to Europe to play in the Swiss league before finally retiring at the age of 31.

He is in rare air with the Wild, being #2 all-time in assists, #4 all-time in goals, #3 in points and #3 in games.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #7

Posted by Kenney on September 27, 2016
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7. Brian Rolston – C

3 Seasons,  241 Games,  96 Goals,  106 Assists,  202 Points

Brian Rolston singed with the Wild as a UFA in July of 2004. As a power forward, he averaged over 20 minutes of TOI under the Lemaire regime and had .84 points per game. Under Lemaire’s alternating captaincy, Rolston wore the C multiple times, which include the unheard of of, back to back months.

With his bomb of a slapshot, Rolston made Anaheim goalie  Giguere duck and cover for a goal as well as dazing Vancouver goalie Robert Luongo, firing a shot that hit him in the mask and dropped him to the ice. Multiple times during penalty or shootout shots Rolston used his powerful slapshot to gain the Wild an extra point. It’s a bummer we never got to see him in the hardest shot competition. “Thanks, Bettman” After his retirement, Sports Illustrated rated his slapshot at #8 of all time in March 2013.

His negotiating rights were traded to Tampa Bay in June 2008 for a conditional draft pick in 2009nor 2010, but he couldn;t come to terms with TB and the following day signed back to his original team, the NJ Devils.

Some of his accolades include a bronze in the World Juniors for the USA in 1992, a Bronze with the USA in the World Championships in 1996, a silver medal in the 2002 Olympic Games, representing the Wild in 2007 at the NHL All-Star Game and winning the Stanley cup with the NJ Devils in 1995, which also included FSN commentator Tom Chorske.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #8

Posted by Jive on September 26, 2016
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8. Wes Walz – C

7 Seasons,  438 Games,  82 Goals,  100 Assists,  182 Points

Eighth on the 3ITB Top 33 is Wes Walz.  One of the hardest working guys in hockey, Walz came to the Wild from the Swiss League where he played after being bounced around NHL teams and the AHL for years.  Always giving everything that he had as a member of the inaugural Wild team, he helped the Wild advance all the way to the conference finals in that magical 2003 playoff run.

An original iron man for the Wild Walz played in 438 games over the 7 seasons that he spent with the Wild.  He was no stranger to the score sheet, often finding ways to get the puck across the goal line even when the Wild were short handed.  Walz is the all time Wild leader in short handed goals having scored 14 of them during his time with the Wild.

After retiring from the Wild Walz went on to coach in Tampa Bay where he mentored Steven Stamkos helping him become the great player that he is today.  Walz continues to be a big part of the Minnesota hockey community coaching the East Ridge Girl’s hockey team and hosting his own hockey camp teaching the game of hockey to today’s youth.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #9

Posted by Jive on September 25, 2016
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Nov 22, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

9. Ryan Suter – D

4 Seasons,  289 Games,  22 Goals,  142 Assists,  164 Points

Mastering the art of calmness and gliding into the #9 spot on the 3ITB Top 33 is none other than Ryan Suter.  Suter’s signing with the Wild was announced on a warm July 4th in 2012 shocking Wild Nation, much to the dismay of Nashville fans.  Every visit the Wild had to Nashville saw the boo birds come out for Suter.  Defensively the Wild count on Suter to be the backbone.  Since joining the Wild, Suter has been a top line defenseman and king of time on ice.  His laid back demeanor on the ice makes it appear almost effortless, but Suter is rarely caught out of position.

Coming from a hockey family of great hokey players it is no surprise that Suter has been named twice to the All-Star team and the U.S. Olympic Hockey team in his career.  While with the Wild Suter has amassed 164 points in helping the team advance to the playoffs 4 years in a row.  The iron man of the Wild, he rarely misses a game having only missed 5 games for the Wild during the 2014-2015 season.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #10

Posted by Kenney on September 24, 2016
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10. Niklas Backstrom – G

9 Seasons,  409 Games,  194 W, 142 L, 2.48 GAA, .915 SV%

On June 1st, 2006 Niklas Backstrom signed a one year deal with the MN Wild at the spry age of 28. He came in as Manny Fernandez’s backup but quickly showed his talents as a number one goalie. October 7, 2006 was his first NHL game and first NHL win, 6 starts later, he recorded his first NHL shutout. In the middle of that same season, Fernandez suffered a knee injury which put Backstrom in the number one spot. He tied the MN Wild record, held by Dwayne Roloson, of 5 shutouts in just 36 starts and finished the season with best Goals Against Average and Save Percentage in the NHL.

Unfortunately, in his final NHL season, he was a healthy scratch with the Wild most of the season and eventually traded mid season to the Calgary Flames along with a 2016 draft pick for F David Jones. He had 4 starts with the Flames, two of them against the Wild, one at the X where he received lots of cheers from the fans and a standing ovation.

Backstrom currently holds MN Wild Team records with most wins (194), most wins in a season (37 in 2008-09) and most shutouts in a season (8 in 2008-09)

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #11

Posted by Aaron on September 23, 2016
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11. Manny Fernandez – G

6 Seasons,  260 Games,  113 W, 102 L, 2.47 GAA, .914 SV%

While it’s easy to discount Manny Fernandez’s Wild career as nepotism gone wild (he’s the nephew of former Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire), there’s no doubt that he played a pivotal role in many of the formative years of the Wild.  He consistently battled Dwayne Roloson for playing time, despite arguably being the better player.

Maybe it was that fear of looking preferential, but Lemaire didn’t consistently play the better goalie, and Fernandez’s numbers were hurt because of this.  Regardless, he still has the 2nd most wins in Wild history, and is (for now) easily one of the best goalies in their short history.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #12

Posted by Jive on September 22, 2016
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12. Jared Spurgeon- D

6 Seasons,  372 Games,  37 Goals,  93 Assists,  130 Points

A lucky break is what the Wild received in 2010, when Spurgeon couldn’t come to terms with the New York Islanders and came to training camp for the Wild and signed an entry-level contract.  Year over year Spurgeon continues to impress and improve his game.  With consistent and solid play in the defensive zone, he has also become a force in the offensive zone as well.  With the Wild, Spurgeon has kept himself positive in  +/- column making himself a invaluable asset to the team.  In 2015 the Wild rewarded him with a 4 year contract extension worth $20.75 million that should keep his talents in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

Spurgeon is small for a defenseman in the NHL, but what he lacks in physical size he more than makes up for with heart and grit.  When on the ice Spurgeon is a workhorse that doesn’t give up.  From game saving plays in the defensive end to clutch play in the offensive end, his effort and team play has him tied with Filip Kuba for the most game winning goals for a defenseman in Wild history.  Creating many memorable moments for the fans already in his young career, who knows what else is in store.

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3ITB’s Top 33 Wild Players of All Time – #13

Posted by Kenney on September 21, 2016
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13. Jason Pominville – RW

4 Seasons,  249 Games,  63 Goals,  96 Assists,  159 Points

During the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, the Wild were looking to add some scoring and a top line winger to help with their playoff push. The Wild landed Jason Pominville from Buffalo at the trade deadline. Along with Pommers came a 2014 4th round pick, in exchange for LW Johan Larsson, G Matt Hackett, a 1st round 2013 pick and a 2nd round 2014 pick.

Although he only played in 2 post-season games that year, Pominville had a solid first full season the following year, leading the team in goals (30) and points (60). Even with a bad 2015-16 season, Jason still has an average of 2 points every 3 games during his Wild tenure. Signed through the 2018-19 season, we’re hoping last year was a fluke year for Pominville and he gets back on top of the Wild score sheet.

 

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