At the end of the 2009/2010 NHL season, there were talks about who was going to fill the finals spots on the blueline the following season. Players that were often talked about were Clayton Stoner, Maxim Noreau, Tyler Cuma, Nate Prosser and Marco Scandella. However, when the Wild set it final roster up on October 6th 2010, Justin Falk remained. Selected in the 4th round in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Falk is a 6-5 213lbs defenseman. Known for his stay-at-home style, he possesses the size, reach and mobility to make him an asset to the Wild.
His fast rise up the depth charts is nothing new. Fans on HFBoards have mentioned how Falk began his junior year with the Spokane Chiefs on a slow start. However, by the 2006/07 season, he became one of the top Chiefs defenseman, being relied on to play against opposing top lines. Falk also helped the Chiefs win the 2008 Memorial Cup and was named a tournament all-star.
Aeros ex-head coach Kevin Constantine described being told by the Chiefs management that Falk "…might start slow. Be a little quiet at first, not all that assertive but at the end of the day, will gain all those things". His junior year seem to mimic his rise up the Aeros blueline. The Winnipeg Sun quoted "He's a bit of a slow starter," said Constantine. "His personality is really good, but it's a little laid back and people like that take a little time to get comfortable. He started a little slow and tentative and then he gained confidence. It's kind of how the playoffs have been for him. I really believe he is a tremendous prospect. He's big and he's athletic. As long as they're patient enough to let due course happen, he'll be a good NHL player."
Kevin Constantine described Falk as "the prototypical, future NHL player. He’s tall, lanky, rangy, which is really effective in hockey because you can cover a lot of ground with that size". With many players his size, mobility is often questioned, however, in his 3 game auditions at the end of the 2009/2010 NHL season with the Wild, Falk looked as though he could function well enough at the NHL level. While he played only sparingly, he made his presence known, using his body to his advantage and displaying physical play around the net and along the boards, something that would definitely stand on a team that lacks physicality.
In 3 games with the Wild, he was a -2 and played only an average of 7:33 minutes on ice.
Michael Russo quoted Wild Head Coach Todd Richards on the Startribune mentioning that, "Once he becomes comfortable and confident -- he's so big and moves so well on the ice -- I think he can be a great shutdown guy", definitely promising words for a NHL rookie, especially one that was not expecting to make the cut. With Clayton Stoner having a rough pre-season, you can bet to see Falk in Wild uniform against the Carolina Hurricanes this Thursday.
And to finally conclude, here is Falks infamous hit on Zach Dailey when he was still in juniors. This is something I'm sure Wild fans will be glad to see on the NHL level.