No. 5: Minnesota Wild
Like the rest of this team, the defensive corps is just blah. There are certainly good spots, but it’s just not a unit that’s going to steal you games or bail out the starting goaltender night in and night out.
Ryan Suter still leads the charge, though his game deteriorates each passing year as a result of playing 59:30 per night. He popped for a career-best 51 points last season, but his defensive positioning and abilities get a step slower each year, it seems.
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Jared Spurgeon is extremely tiny but also really smart at handing out the puck and making plays under pressure. Jonas Brodin is young but struggling with his assignment of taking on more defensive-zone opportunities. Marco Scandella is in the same boat, though a few years older.
Mathew Dumba was a frequently talked-about piece when he got to the NHL, and he’s doing fine from an offensive perspective. But the Wild need a lot more from him on the defensive end, as he frequently gets lost in his own zone. Nate Prosser sucks, but he’ll probably get more rope at 6D than anyone else Minnesota can offer right now (Christian Folin).
Again, it’s not a bad group. It’ll produce a fair amount offensively and has enough guys who can make plays with their bodies and sticks defensively. But it doesn’t do anything spectacularly. And it’s part of the reason the team keeps flaming out in the postseason.
Next: Number 4