Wild 2022 Player Report Card: Nico Sturm & Connor Dewar

This edition of the report cards will include two Minnesota Wild players because one basically replaced the other following the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, as both Connor Dewar and Nico Sturm spent time on the fourth line throughout the season. Dewar played a bit at the very start of the season and then was sent back to the Iowa Wild while Sturm remained in the lineup.

Dewar rejoined the Wild in January alongside Sturm when the team did some line juggling and the two stayed on the roster off and on until Sturm was traded away to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Tyson Jost. Dewar finished off the season with the big boys and joined them in one game of the postseason. Both players had okay seasons, though, Dewar’s was a bit more acceptable since he was a rookie.

Sturm & Dewar’s Regular Season

Sturm was expected to have a big season for the Wild and was considered one of those players that had to step up. He played in 53 games before he was traded and scored nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in that time. It was a decent number but not enough, especially with the potential he has, but for some reason, he just couldn’t find the extra step while he was with the Wild.

There was no scoring breakthrough when Sturm joined the Avalanche but it can take time to adjust to a new team. He’s also a center which at the time the Wild had plenty of, and while the Avalanche have plenty of centers as well, he’s able to adjust and play wing which worked for him. He only tallied three points but he played in all 21 of the Avalanche’s final regular-season games rather than being a scratch like he was with the Wild.

Nico Sturm Minnesota Wild
Nico Sturm, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Transitioning to Dewar, he’s another one of the Wild’s promising rookies. He played in 35 games throughout the entire season and tallied six points (two goals, four assists). They weren’t Kirill Kaprizov or Matt Boldy numbers but his play was rather impressive. He fit in well on the fourth line, the problem was that so did a number of other players, some with more experience.

Dewar was probably in the best situation a rookie could be in without having too much pressure. To start, he was brought in a few games at a time so he could get the feel of the NHL game without being thrown into it all at once. As he progressed, he got to play more and towards the end, he was a consistent member of the lineup.

Sturm & Dewar’s Postseason

Well, it’s safe to say Sturm ended up with the better postseason so far, as his Avalanche are still in the playoffs and doing quite well. As of June 2, he played four games in their first-round matchup against the Nashville Predators and two games in the second round against the St. Louis Blues but has yet to suit up in the third round against the Edmonton Oilers. In those six games, he had a single assist for one point.

With the way the Avalanche are playing, it’s hard to see Sturm crack the lineup again unless someone gets injured which in the postseason is quite possible. It’ll be interesting to see if he can find his way onto the roster once again before the playoffs come to an end.

Nico Sturm Minnesota Wild
Nico Sturm, Minnesota Wild (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Dewar wasn’t as lucky as Sturm in two instances, Dewar’s team didn’t make it past the first round and he played in just one of their six games. The main fourth liners were Nicolas Deslauriers, Brandon Duhaime, and Jost. While Dewar was able to sneak into a game when Deslauriers battled an injury, he didn’t record any points. Although, he did register a shot on goal as well as a takeaway. They weren’t hugely impactful but they were decent stats.

Sturm & Dewar’s Final Grades

Sturm’s grade will be strictly on his efforts with the Wild even though his performances with both teams have been discussed. His trade came at a time when his play was at a standstill for the Wild but he’s still young enough to be promising if placed on the right team. The same thing could be said for the player he was traded for, Jost, who was doing okay but had a lot of potential and a change of scenery was the next option.

Related: Wild 2022 Player Report Card: Brandon Duhaime

While Sturm’s points could’ve used a boost, his defense was decent, as he had 22 blocked shots and six takeaways. While those stats were good, he also had a disappointing 11 giveaways. After looking over everything, his overall grade is a B+. He did accumulate points and after combining his production with the Wild and Avalanche, he set a new career-high of 20 points, but he needed to step up and contribute more.

The critiques can’t be too harsh because Sturm was headed in the right direction, just not quick enough for the Wild, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent once his season is finished. Chances are he’ll want more money than what they deemed worthy and rather than lose him for nothing, they went after Jost who they were able to get at $2 million for next season and possibly less than what Sturm would’ve asked for. It was a risk both teams were willing to take in this trade.

Dewar’s Grade

Now it’s Dewar’s turn for his final grade and it’s decent. Obviously playing in 35 games didn’t give him a lot of time to get comfortable on the roster. It was good that he was inserted into the lineup slowly to have an adjustment period for the speed of the game and level of competitiveness, but getting pulled back out made it difficult on him too. The longer he stayed, the better he played and ended up earning a spot on the roster towards the end of the season.

Connor Dewar Minnesota Wild
Connor Dewar, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While Dewar didn’t have the greatest point total, he didn’t have a lot of time to prove himself. However, his defense was quite impressive, as he had 22 blocked shots in 35 games, the same number that Sturm had, but in fewer games. He gave up the puck six times but stole it back nine times throughout the season. Being a rookie, he gets a little less critique than Sturm, so his overall grade is an A-.

How can a rookie earn that high of a grade without bigger numbers? Dewar’s effort, as he pushed himself in every game he played. He wasn’t afraid to block shots and play defensively but also jumped into the offense when he saw the opportunity. He’s just getting started on his career, so it’ll be fun to see what he can bring to the team in the seasons to come if the Wild choose to sign him as a restricted free agent.

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