Russo is reporting that the Wild have re-assigned defenseman Justin Falk to the Aeros, keeping Marco Scandella with the big club for now. Russo has the reasoning over on his blog, but let me just say this caught me off guard. Sure, it makes sense financially and it makes sense due to the waivers issue.
Why the Wild choose to pay Clayton Stoner to sit in the press box is beyond me. Falk has done everything right thus far, and had earned his spot. Stoner has a crappy contract and gets to stay up because of it. I don't often criticize personnel decisions, but this was the wrong choice.
Russo spells it out pretty well that it makes no sense to have Falk in the press box while Scandella plays, and I agree 100%. If it was me? I sent Stoner to Houston and make him play his way back up. I play Scandella and Falk nightly and sit Barker in the press box and make him earn his ice tie as well. I understand it is difficult to justify sedning a $500K+ salary to Houston, and more difficult to justify benching a $3 million salary, but hey, it's about winning the games right?
As Russo says on his blog:
... Justin Falk, 22, who's played quite well since a solid training camp...
And with rookie Marco Scandella, 20, proving himself at least close to NHL ready during his first three NHL games, Falk was the odd man out even though Clayton Stoner's been scratched eight times and in two in a row.
Falk has had a stellar season, especially for a rookie. Scandella has played lights out in his move up. Stoner? Not so much. He has shown little to nothing of value, save for a couple games where he stayed below the radar. Scratched eight games is normal for a #7 d-man, but the problem is, he doesn't deserve to be the #7 d-man. That honor falls to Cam Barker.
Barker has three points and is a -6 on the year. He is used in all situations, but has not produced anything in any of them. I have held off critiquing him harshly for 17 games, and his game is not outrageously bad. However, at $3 million, "not outrageously bad" is not what you are hoping for. He needs some time to sit and think about it, and watch as the kids who are working hard (Sorry Tom) and earn their spots on the ice.
This is likely of minor importance, and I am likely making way too big of a deal about it. However, when there are two guys that are busting their humps every night and two guys who don't seem to want it much, the choice seems pretty clear. Contract status should not play such a large role in deciding who gets to play and who doesn't, but as Russo said last night, this isn't fantasy hockey. Contracts make a difference, and this decision could end up costing them wins rather than dollars, and that doesn't strike me as the right decision.
Congrats to Marco "Pizza" Scandella. You earned your spot, now make it count.