Puck moving defensemen series: Minnesota Wild

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)

23JUN2017 -- wild puck moving d -- v1.JPG

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.

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