When one attends Wild Development camp, the secret seems to be to attend day two, not day one. I did the reverse. I got to witness the astonishingly loud Xcel Energy Center fire alarm, but missed out on the signing of Joel Broda. So, after a dead motorcycle and a empty gas tank on the truck delayed my arrival, I made it to day three, and found out a little more about the newest member of the Minnesota Wild franchise.
Make the jump and let's find out who this kid is, and why the Caps were willing to let him go.
First, since this is Hockey Wilderness, comes an awesome find from our own Call of the Wild:
This will, of course, be the first thing that crosses everyone's mind whenever we hear his name from now on. Not sure if he would appreciate that or not, but it is what it is.
On to the important part. Who is Joel Broda?
Decent size, tons of points, part of a championship team with the Hitmen. The bonus? He's a center, something Wild now seem to have an abundance of. The Washington Capitals drafted him, never signed him, and he then slipped all the way through the draft in June. Many around the X were left asking "How is that possible?"
He had 73 points in 66 games, including 39 goals for the Hitmen last season. He had 87 points the previous season, despite being traded from Moose Jaw to Calgary. He isn't exactly going to be a contender for the Lady Byng, either, racking up near a minute per game in PIMs in each of his seasons. Physical and can put the puck in the net. It made such little sense to me that I asked Japer at Japer's Rink for some reasoning. He said that Broda was tagged as:
Not a very good skater, and not very interested in his own end of the ice, last I saw. Good hands, though.
As Glen Andresen at Wild.com points out, the Wild have another guy on the roster with the same description:
Apparently, the knock on Broda is his speed, but there are some players in the NHL that aren't exactly fleet of foot. The Wild has one already, and he wears #15. A lack of speed didn't deter him from putting up big offensive numbers in the NHL.
If Broda can have half the career Andrew Brunette has, this will be an amazing signing. I for one took notice of Broda on day one of camp, wondering where the heck the kid came from. He had amazing hands, a quick, sharp shot, and looked to skate as well as any of the guys on the ice. Granted, this isn't a try out, it's development camp, it isn't likely that everyone on the ice was showing off their latest and greatest moves.
Broda did wind up one of the last still skating in a shoot-out practice drill in which the players who scored got to rest while the others continued back and forth until only one remained. So maybe some moves wouldn't hurt him. Some great saves by Johan Gustaffson kept Broda skating as well.
What did the prospect himself have to say?
On his contract:
It's feels good. Got drafted a few years ago, and worked pretty hard, but it didn't work out, and [I'm] glad to latch on with Minnesota.
Is the plan to go to Houston?
Yeah, I mean, that's the plan, come to camp, and try to make the team, but realistically that's probably the way it's going to go.
Did Washington contact you to let you know why they decided to let you go?
Well, when that happens, they're not really going to give me any reasons, and I think it's just a thing where they're deep with prospects. There's no hard feelings. There's 30 teams. There's not just one team out there, and luckily Minnesota believed in me, brought me into camp, and I'm happy.
Aeros Head Coach Mike Yeo had this to say about Broda:
I think it's important to have depth in the organization. It's early, it's tough to say ‘only in practice,' but I can say that in practice he has shown that he has a quick release, he's got the ability to score goals. It's nice to have guys who can put the puck in the net.
By the way? The kid can throw down, too:
So. Keep your expectations in check for now, Wild fans. It is nice to see some depth signings, and Broda was impressive in the practices. However, it is "just practice" as Coach Yeo said. Yes, practice is important, but these guys were not out to kill each other. They were working on drills and learning, not desperately trying to win a game. They know they are being judged, but they also know no one earns a spot on an NHL roster in a development camp.
All-in-all, it looks to be a good signing, and we'll see where it takes him in Houston. There is a ton of organizational depth at the center position now, which is excellent. From weakness to strength, that's all you can ask, right?