We’re running out of time for evaluation before June’s NHL Expansion Draft. You read fast, I’ll write fast. Next up is the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota was unable to erase December’s win-a-thon which included a 12-game winning streak, but they did their best. Last month, the Wild dropped 11 of 13 decisions during one stretch. They’ll limp into the Western Conference playoffs as the number two seed out of the Central Division.
On Saturday, Minnesota wraps up the regular season with a road date against the Arizona Coyotes. So they’ve got at least five games left. With Bruce Boudreau as the bench boss, you should take that number very seriously. With apologies to Vegas locals and Jason Zucker, here are four players fans of the Golden Knights should keep an eye on.
When I consider all the different options Minnesota has regarding protection and all the options Vegas will have regarding selection, Jonas Brodin is who I’d like to see in Vegas.
First of all, he’s weird. That’s good. Vegas is a weird place. A little personality when building a new fan base is never a bad thing. More importantly, based on his first five years in the NHL, he may be the safest bet of the Minnesota blueliners.
Why would Minnesota not protect him? Well, I think it would be foolish not to, but if they don’t it’s because that can’t get the taste out of their mouth after his two-goal, five-assist effort a season ago. Why Vegas? They think his bounce back performance this season is more indicative of things to come.
There was a point earlier this season when many thought Marco Scandella would have been the last player not protected ahead of the expansion draft. Many mock drafts had the Golden Knights selecting the 27-year-old defenseman in June.
While the former may be true, the latter is certainly up for debate. Scandella has had a disaster of a season. He’s paired inconsistent defensive play with insignificant offensive numbers.
Scandella is a top-four defenseman at his best. He’s got good size. He does not have good speed. Injury concerns and whether or not his regression in 2016-17 is a sign of things to come will ultimately determine if he ends up relocating to Las Vegas.
Here’s your ridiculously high upside pick. Dumba plays fast and mean, and he may be the junkyard dog on the ice that Vegas general manager George McPhee would love to add to his inaugural roster. He’s extraordinarily talented and only 22 years-old.
But the question that both McPhee and Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher will have to ask is whether or not Dumba is too reckless on the ice. He’s certainly more polished than when he first entered the league in 2013. His point total has increased from 16 to 26 to 33 across the last three seasons. That said, there’s still room for growth. Fletcher must decide if Dumba’s a project worth investing more resources into and McPhee must decide if he’s the right pick on a team with plenty of attractive options.
Spurgeon represents the most expensive option that Vegas will have to choose from at a cost of $5.1 million for each of the next three seasons. That could end up being a pretty good deal if the former sixth-round pick continues on his current trajectory. He’s racked up 1o goals and a career-high 38 points on the season, up from 29 a year ago.
Improved scoring ability may not be enough for McPhee to look past Spurgeon’s size, though. At 5-foot-9, 165-pounds the former sixth-round pick hardly measures up to his contemporaries. Spurgeon was banged up in the Wild’s 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes last week. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but it was significant enough for Bruce Boudreau to sit his 27-year-old defenseman for the remainder of the regular season. Minnesota’s been a streaky team all season long. When they playoffs start, watch Spurgeon closely. It may be a quick exit.
Las Vegas local covering Golden Knights hockey since 2016.
Ball State University ’05
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