The Minnesota Wild had an outstanding regular season, securing 49 wins and 106 points (good for second highest in the Western Conference behind only the Chicago Blackhawks). A big driver of their success was a deep blueline. Let’s explore.
***Note: For further detail on methodology and explanation of the chart, please refer to the first installment of this series (Montreal Canadiens)
The Wild’s first pairing is outstanding and one of the top in the league. Spurgeon (+2.14 puck movement factor) and Suter (+1.30) drive possession despite facing top line caliber opponents. Suter is the big name after signing a mega contract with a cap hit $7.5M per season. Spurgeon, meanwhile, carries an extremely reasonable cap hit ($5.2M) and flies under the radar despite being one of the game’s top puck-moving rearguards.
Brodin also exhibited great possession numbers in 2016/17. His puck movement factor of +1.85 was second highest on the team, despite only starting 28% of shifts in the offensive zone. As expected, the opposition he faced was likely equivalent to 2nd/3rd line talent as Suter and Spurgeon were the coach’s choice against top opponents. Still, Brodin is among the best 3/4 guys in the league and could likely bid for top pairing minutes elsewhere.
Scandella and Dumba were Minnesota’s 4 and 5. Scandella, who spent about 50% of his 5v5 ice time alongside Dumba, was slightly below average as a puck mover while facing average opposition. Dumba really struggled as a puck mover. Despite starting 34% of shifts in the offensive zone, his puck movement factor of -1.20 trailed everyone but Folin. Although Dumba does bring physicality and energy, and is an asset on the PP, Minnesota hopes to see improvement in that area moving forward.
Verdict: Minnesota boasts one of the top bluelines in the entire league, led by 3 studs in Spurgeon, Suter, and Brodin. With additional depth in Scandella and Dumba, Minnesota may want to consider flipping one to add more punch up front.