Wild 2022 Player Report Card: Brandon Duhaime

The Minnesota Wild’s Brandon Duhaime was probably the most consistent player on the fourth line both in points and games played. Apart from Matt Boldy, he was also the most successful rookie on the team. He was a very interesting player to watch all season as he really impressed everyone during the preseason and secured a spot very quickly on the NHL roster.

Duhaime started the season with the team and remained all the way through to the end of the postseason. He stepped up whenever he could and while he didn’t record a lot of points, he did contribute physically. As a rookie, it wasn’t expected that he’d have a huge impact on the scoreboard, but the number of hits he produced was a welcome surprise.

Duhaime’s Consistent Play

Some players are sent back and forth to the minors a number of times before they actually crack the lineup and stay there. For Duhaime, he played two seasons with the Iowa Wild and then made the Minnesota Wild’s roster in 2021-22 and stuck around after that. He played in 80 games this season, with the only two he missed being due to COVID Procotol like nearly every NHL team had this season.

In those 80 games, Duhaime scored six goals and 11 assists for a total of 17 points. While those numbers aren’t super impressive, they’re decent for a rookie and landed him in the top-30 amongst all NHL rookies. He also spent 122 minutes in the penalty box and accumulated 201 hits. Those hits secured him second place on the team, just 37 hits behind the team leader Marcus Foligno.

Brandon Duhaime Minnesota Wild
Brandon Duhaime, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While it’s expected Duhaime will tally more points next season, his blocked shots need to improve as well. He blocked a total of 18 shots during his 80 games last season but he also had 16 takeaways, so like his linemate Nick Bjugstad, he made up for some of those non-blocked shots by stealing the puck from opposing players.

Duhaime’s First Playoffs

The NHL playoffs are difficult for all players, even veterans, so it’s not surprising that Duhaime didn’t put up the same numbers he did during the regular season. He seemed to adjust a little easier than others but wasn’t able to produce as much. He played in all six of their postseason games and had zero points. However, he did have six shots on goal and two penalty minutes.

Related: Wild 2022 Player Report Card: Nick Bjugstad

The most disappointing stat for Duhaime was easily the lack of hits in the hit column. He delivered seven in six games but he was also averaging only seven minutes of ice time per game compared to his 10:13 from the regular season. Three fewer minutes a game may not seem like a lot but that could be three or more shifts he missed out on and fewer shifts naturally equal fewer hits.

Again, the majority of the Wild roster struggled this postseason in all areas, especially scoring for the top two lines and physicality for the third and fourth lines. However, Duhaime was the least of the Wild’s problems when it came to their playoff woes. It would’ve been great if they could’ve had more hits or scoring from him, but that’s a lot to put on a rookie’s shoulders.

Brandon Duhaime Minnesota Wild
Brandon Duhaime, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Even Kirill Kaprizov had smaller numbers in his rookie season but he made a resurgence in his second which is exactly what the Wild should hope for with Duhaime. He probably won’t have Kaprizov numbers but any improvement would be great.

Duhaime’s Final Grade

Having the rookie status goes into calculating Duhaime’s grade as well as being on the fourth line compared to the top line. He’s expected to have higher hit numbers than goals which is exactly what happened. Of course, a few more points would’ve been nice but he did decent in that department. His physical play was quite phenomenal, as it’s not often that rookies end up towards the top of the team in any stat, let alone hits.

Having over 200 hits is impressive and Duhaime was in the top-30 in the entire league with 201. He snuck in right ahead of Darnell Nurse and right behind Jacob Trouba, both of whom are currently lighting it up with their respective teams in the 2022 Conference Finals. The crazy thing is he will hopefully continue to get better and that means more hits to come next season.

Overall, considering his low point total, high hits and quiet postseason, he’s earned a B+, just shy of an A-. Duhaime did well as a rookie but it seemed like there was a lot of untapped potential, as he just couldn’t find that extra step that he showed occasionally throughout the season. Thankfully, the Wild have him under contract for next season and then he’ll become a restricted free agent.

It’s too early to tell what the Wild will want to do with Duhaime after next season but hopefully, he does well enough that they’ll want to re-sign him and be able to afford it. He has a lot of room to improve and the ability to do so. He fit in well with the rotation of players on his line and that’ll be a bonus to his case as he can play with nearly anyone. Depending on who’s left to start next season, it’ll be fun to see what line he lands on when the puck drops again in October.

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