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Scouting The Enemy: Minnesota Wild

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We take a closer look inside the Minnesota Wild.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers are starting out a stretch where they'll play seven of their next eight games on the road. After facing the Wild, they'll be tested by the Dallas Stars, return for a quick one-off against the St. Louis Blues, then head out again to play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida has points in each of their last four games - so what do you reckon are their chances to extend their streak against the Wild?

The Panthers have defeated the Wild just four times in 16 tries, against nine losses, two overtime losses, and a single tie. Their .344 points percentage is their second worst against any team (they've earned a .321 success rate against the Blues).

Florida last faced the Wild on November 24th at the BB&T Center, and ended up losing by a 4-1 final count. Shawn Thornton (1) provided all the offense the Panthers would get, as Niklas Backstrom stopped 29-of-30 for the Minnesota victory. Since then, the Cats have gone 17-11-5.

Florida's last win against Minnesota came on October 19th last season, as Brad Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau each beat Josh Harding in the shootout for a 2-1 win. Tim Thomas earned the win by turning 30 shots aside.

Now, a little more on tonight's opponent.

I used www2.dailyfaceoff.com for the starting lineups, www.goaliepost.com for possible starting goaltender, www.sportsforecaster.com for the scouting reports, and www.hockey-reference.com for statistics.

Forward Corps

First Line

11 - Zach Parise

Parise is a 5'11", 195 lb. winger playing in his hometown of Minneapolis. He was initially chosen in the first round of the 2003 draft by the New Jersey Devils, with whom he spent his first seven NHL seasons. This is his third year with the Wild.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

663

262

282

544

This Season

46

21

19

40

Last 10 played

10

6

2

8

vs. Florida

27

9

10

19

Assets: Never stops hustling and possesses the drive, heart and skills of a winner. Has speed to burn defenders one-on-one and owns a true goal-scorer's shot that he loves to unleash at a moment's notice. Is a supremely intelligent player. Scores goals in the clutch and is defensively responsible.
Flaws: Not big, he needs to continue to withstand the constant pounding that comes with being a scoring star at the highest level. Could use a tad more work on his playmaking skills. Knee problems are a concern moving forward, as are injuries in general. May not be able to meet contratual expectations.
Career Potential: Elite scorer with a great work ethic.

64 - Mikael Granlund

Granlund is a 5'10", 186 lb. pivot from Oulu, Finland. He was selected ninth overall in the 2010 draft by the Wild, and is now in his third season with the club. He broke the 40 point barrier for the first time last season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

129

15

52

67

This Season

39

5

13

18

Last 10 played

10

2

3

5

vs. Florida

3

0

1

1

Assets: Is a smart playmaker with excellent vision and the versatility to play all three forward positions. Works hard, can skate and shoot. Great hockey sense, he can score highlight-reel goals.
Flaws: Is undersized, so he must prove capable of withstanding the constant pounding in North America in the long run. Needs to continue adding speed and strength to his arsenal.
Career Potential: Talented scoring forward with big upside.

26 - Thomas Vanek

Vanek is a 6'2", 205 lb. wingman from Vienna, Austria, and the fifth overall selection in the 2003 draft, by the Buffalo Sabres. After playing his first eight full NHL seasons with the club, he spent the last two seasons with the Sabres, the New York Islanders, and the Montreal Canadiens before joining the Wild this season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

716

287

301

588

This Season

53

10

22

32

Last 10 played

10

2

3

5

vs. Florida

34

21

11

32

Assets: Is a natural goal-scorer, with plenty of size to fight through traffic and battle against big NHL defensemen in front of the net. A superior shot tipper, he owns the hands of a true sniper, and is usually in the right place at the right time. Can really shoot the biscuit. Passes well, too.
Flaws: Isn't a great skater, so he tends to struggle when his positioning leaves him. Could stand to play a more abrasive game, which could provide him with more space on the ice, but that's simply not his style (and never will be). Takes a lot of abuse in front of the net, so he can wear down.
Career Potential: Natural, big veteran scoring winger.

Second Line

22 - Nino Niederreiter

Niederreiter, a 22-year-old winger from Chur, Switzerland, was the fifth overall selection in the 2010 draft by the New York Islanders. Now in his fourth NHL season (his second with Minnesota), the 6'2", 208 pounder is looking to increase his career high of 36 points (set last season).

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

198

32

32

64

This Season

53

16

9

25

Last 10 played

10

2

3

5

vs. Florida

5

1

1

2

Assets: Boasts good size, great scoring prowess and a flair for the dramatic in his game. Shoots first, asks questions later. Not shy about venturing into heavy traffic areas, he can play on either side of center. Also has a mean streak.
Flaws: Needs to continue to work on playing a consistent brand of hockey, especially when he isn't in attack mode. Must also prove he can play sans injuries for long stretches, which have been a challenge for him.
Career Potential: Power scoring winger with good upside.

9 - Mikko Koivu

Koivu, a 31-year-old native of Turku, Finland, is a 6'3", 217 lb. center. He was initially chosen sixth overall in the 2001 draft by the Wild. He's in his 10th season with the club.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

654

138

345

483

This Season

53

8

23

31

Last 10 played

10

2

6

8

vs. Florida

9

4

9

13

Assets: Has great size for the center position and plays a top-notch two-way game. Smart, he leads by example. Skates well and is extremely determined. Scores goals in the clutch. His instincts help make players around him better.
Flaws: Can be prone to prolonged scoring slumps. Has been upgrading his level of physical play--he has the size to do so. Isn't a natural goal-scorer or elegant skater.
Career Potential: Excellent two-way center.

29 - Jason Pominville

Pominville is a 6', 185 lb. wing from Repentigny, PQ. Now 32-years-old, he was chosen in the second round in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres. The 11-year veteran joined the Wild three seasons ago.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

723

230

335

565

This Season

53

11

29

40

Last 10 played

10

2

2

4

vs. Florida

33

12

20

32

Assets: Has great on-ice vision and offensive creativity. Can beat defenders one-on-one. Is equally adept at finishing off plays or setting up linemates. Is defensively responsible and a good team leader.
Flaws: Lacks ideal NHL size and strength, which somewhat hinders his ability to perform at an even higher level. Can also wear down over the course of the season. Doesn't hit the net enough with his shots.
Career Potential: Versatile scoring winger and leader.

Third Line

10 - Jordan Schroeder

Schroeder is a 5'8", 173 lb. center from Prior Lake, MN. Now in his third NHL season, he played his first two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. He was chosen in the 2009 draft by Vancouver with the 22nd overall pick.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

63

7

9

16

This Season

7

1

0

1

Last 10 played

10

1

0

0

vs. Florida

1

0

0

0

Assets: Has excellent offensive instincts, shiftiness and the versatility to play either center or wing. Possesses great hands and has a dangerous shot. Is much stronger than his size suggests.
Flaws: Size will always come into question nonetheless, especially at the highest level, since 5-8 is small even by NHL standards in the past. Will need to keep the intensity level on high at all times.
Career Potential: Diminutive depth scoring forward with a little upside.

3 - Charlie Coyle

Coyle was the 38th overall pick of the San Jose Sharks back in 2010. A 6'3", 222 lb. forward from E. Weymouth, MA, he's now in his third NHL season, all with the Wild.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

160

27

39

66

This Season

53

7

15

22

Last 10 played

10

3

1

4

vs. Florida

2

1

0

1

Assets: Has outstanding offensive instincts and excellent hands. Can both set up teammates and finish off plays himself. Also displays the size required to fend off defenders effectively at the highest level.
Flaws: While he can play both wing and center, his defensive game may not be quite good enough to play down the middle in the National Hockey League. Could also stand to use his size more.
Career Potential: Talented scoring forward with good upside.

21 - Kyle Brodziak

Brodziak, a St. Paul, Alberta native, is a 6'2, 209 lb. center in his 10th NHL season. He was chosen in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the Edmonton Oilers. He's in his sixth season with the Wild. Before this season, he had only missed eight games in his last seven seasons.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

595

96

125

221

This Season

47

7

6

13

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

9

2

0

2

Assets: Is a sound defensive player with some offensive production. Can play either center or wing and gives an honest effort every shift. Sets a very good example in terms of work ethic.
Flaws: Is a little lacking in the skating department, which limits his ability to play a scoring role at the highest level. Doesn't always use his size effectively enough, too.
Career Potential: Versatile complementary forward.

Fourth Line

27 - Brett Sutter

Sutter is a 6', 200 lb. winger from Viking, Alberta. The Calgary Flames picked him in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, and he totaled 19 games for the club over three NHL seasons. Now in his seventh NHL season, he'll only be playing in his 61st career game tonight.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

60

2

8

10

This Season

6

0

3

3

Last 10 played

10

1

4

5

vs. Florida

2

0

0

0

Assets: Plays with a tremendous amount of energy and the work ethic that is synonymous with his family name. Is not afraid of mixing it up. Can play all three forward positions, which adds to his overall value.
Flaws: Lacks the talent level to be placed on a scoring line at the highest level. Needs to get physically stronger in order to play regularly. Must also find his big-league niche.
Career Potential: Energy depth forward.

56 - Erik Haula

Haula is a 5'11", 190 lb. winger from Pori, Finland. He was selected by the Wild in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, and is in his second NHL season. He'll reach a career high tonight with his 47th game of this season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

92

10

12

22

This Season

46

4

3

7

Last 10 played

10

1

2

3

vs. Florida

1

0

0

0

Assets: Is a creative playmaker with good instincts for the game. Is also a versatile forward, capable of playing both wing and center.
Flaws: Is not very big by National Hockey League standards, so he must get stronger and prove himself regularly against bigger opponents.
Career Potential: Playmaking forward with some upside.

14 - Justin Fontaine

Fontaine is a 5'10", 177 lb. winger from Bonnyville, Alberta. Undrafted, he played four years of collegiate hockey with the University of Minnesota at Duluth before catching on with the AHL's Houston Aeros for two seasons. He's now in his second season with the Wild.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

109

17

17

34

This Season

43

4

9

13

Last 10 played

10

1

2

3

vs. Florida

3

0

0

0

Assets: A solid point-producing forward, he has proven himself in the scoring department at lower levels. Can be an asset on the power play thanks to a very good shot.
Flaws: The 5-10 winger doesn't own ideal size for the National Hockey League game, so does his offensive game translate? The jury is still out.
Career Potential: Depth scoring winger with a little upside.

Defensive Corps

First Pairing

20 - Ryan Suter

Suter, a Madison, WI native, is a 6'1", 198 lb. defender. The Nashville Predators made him their first round selection in 2003, with the seventh overall pick. The two-time all-star is in his third season with the Wild.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

721

52

289

341

This Season

49

2

26

28

Last 10 played

10

1

5

6

vs. Florida

12

1

7

8

Assets: Possesses an excellent all-around game. Loves to move the puck swiftly up ice and can rack up points on the power play, mainly due to a heavy point shot and pinpoint passing skills. Loves a heavy workload.
Flaws: Will sometimes chase a big hit, which places himself out of defensive position. Also, he's inconsistent in terms of his overall physical play. Must also prove capable of living up to contractual expectations.
Career Potential: Excellent all-round, big-minute defenseman.

25 - Jonas Brodin

Brodin is a 6'1", 180 lb. defender from Karlstad, Sweden. The Wild spent their first round selection on him in 2011, 10th overall. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote in 2013 (won by Jonathan Huberdeau).

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

166

12

25

37

This Season

42

2

5

7

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

2

1

0

1

Assets: Has supreme puck-moving ability, plus a projectable frame and offensive upside. Can log plenty of minutes for his hockey club, which adds to his overall value.
Flaws: Needs to add more bulk and get physically stronger to best handle National Hockey League forwards. May be a bit too passive in his demeanor, overall.
Career Potential: Talented puck-moving defenseman with good upside.

Second Pairing

6 - Marco Scandella

Scandella is a 6'3", 210 lb. blueliner from Montreal. He was drafted in 2008 by the Wild in the second round, and is now in his fifth season with the club.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

209

16

33

49

This Season

44

9

8

17

Last 10 played

10

0

2

2

vs. Florida

6

0

0

0

Assets: Has all-around upside, a big frame, an aggressive approach to playing defense and some offensive ability. Can log a lot of minutes and play a key shutdown role.
Flaws: Isn't a natural power-play performer, and is miscast when used as a quarterback. Struggles a bit against very quick forwards, who can beat him to the outside.
Career Potential: All-round defenseman with some upside.

46 - Jared Spurgeon

Spurgeon is a 5'9", 185 lb. defenseman from Edmonton. The New York Islanders chose him in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, but he never appeared with the club. He made his NHL debut with the Wild in 2010-11, and is now in his fifth (mostly) full NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

275

24

68

92

This Season

46

7

9

16

Last 10 played

10

1

1

2

vs. Florida

4

0

2

2

Assets: Confidently moves the puck well up ice, has a good shot, very good skating ability and the upside to produce consistent point totals. A courageous little bugger for a player his size, he relies on excellent positioning in the defensive zone to earn his coach's trust.
Flaws: Is well below-average by National Hockey League standards in terms of his size (5-9, 185 pounds), which hinders his overall upside. Therefore, he must continue to add strength to prove his doubters wrong as a quality, big-minute defender at the highest level.
Career Potential: Diminutive big-minute defenseman with upside.

Third Pairing

39 - Nate Prosser

Prosser is a 6'2", 207 lb. native of Elk River, MN. Undrafted out of Colorado College, he joined the Wild in 2009-10, and is in his sixth season with the team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

170

4

22

26

This Season

44

1

4

5

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

4

0

0

0

Assets: Has offensive acumen and projectable size for the blueline position at the NHL level. Moves the puck efficiently and with relative consistency.
Flaws: Needs to fill out his 6-2 frame and start using his size more effectively, since it somewhat hampers his overall ability at the highest level.
Career Potential: Puck-moving depth defenseman.

55 - Mathew Dumba

Dumba was the seventh overall selection in 2012, by the Wild. A 6', 183 lb. defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan, He's in his second season with Minnesota.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

42

3

5

8

This Season

29

2

4

6

Last 10 played

10

1

1

2

vs. Florida

2

0

0

0

Assets: Has electric skating ability and a very aggressive approach to the game. Can rush up the ice with the puck with aplomb, and provide huge open-ice hits that change the momentum of a game. Can also log big minutes.
Flaws: Needs to play a little more in control in order to maximize his vast all-round potential in the National Hockey League. Must also fill out his 6-0 frame to better handle the rigors of the pro game.
Career Potential: Talented all-round defenseman with good upside.

Goaltenders

Probable Starter

40 - Devan Dubnyk

Dubnyk is a 6'5", 210 lb netminder from Regina. Selected with the 14th overall pick in 2004 by the Oilers, he's now a six-year veteran with his fourth NHL team.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

203

78

83

25

0.911

2.81

13

This Season

30

17

6

3

0.924

2.27

5

Last 10 played

10

7

1

1

0.936

1.69

3

vs. Florida

3

3

0

0

0.933

1.61

0

Assets: Boasts a massive (6-5, 210 pounds) frame, so he's able to cover a lot of net when in the crease. Has a great attitude and is well liked in the locker room. Is capable of dominant performances.
Flaws: Still lacks the game-to-game consistency required to become a big-time starter at the National Hockey League level. Could use a little better mobility in the crease area.
Career Potential: Big, talented goaltender with a little upside.

Probable Backup
35 - Darcy Kuemper

Kuemper, another 6'5" goaltender, is a 205 lb. native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Wild, and is playing in his third season with the team.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

61

26

22

6

0.910

2.49

5

This Season

29

13

12

2

0.904

2.62

3

Last 10 played

10

2

5

2

0.888

3.29

0

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assets: Is an excellent puck-handler. Uses his huge frame and butterfly style to full effect when filling the net. Very quick moving laterally to mirror shooters, he can make the spectacular save reacting to dekes. Displays a good glove hand.
Flaws: Needs to do a better job when challenging shooters. Goes into his butterfly a bit too quickly at times, and can also get caught out of position when out to handle the puck. Needs to keep developing his blocker side.
Career Potential: Big goaltender with upside.

Join us for the Caterwaul and GameThread later, the Recat soon after, and Todd's AM recap in the morning.