It seems like every season there is a guy who is called up for the Wild that makes an impression and either gets hurt or just loses his mind once the position is "locked." It happened multiple times this year, and Marco Scandella was one of them.
Called up to fill in for an injured Justin Falk, Falk never got back in the lineup. Scandella looked too good to send down, and he was already playing, so down goes Falk who had earned the spot in camp. Then, of course, Scandella goes and gets himself hurt and up comes Jared Spurgeon. We'll get to Spurge later, but let's just say, Pizza had no chace of getting back in the lineup.
Then, he got another shot, and broke his finger. All in all, not good. The injury ninja strikes again. How did all of this end up looking on a grade sheet? Let's find out.
JS- GRADE: C+ We only got 20 games of Pizza, but I love how his game seemed to grow each and every game. We didn't see much of that offense that made him a QMJHL star, but we can't ask for him to magically become an amazing goal-scorer as a rookie. With time, he should become a good puck-mover on this squad. It's a shame injuries derailed what could've been a decent rookie campaign as he had pretty much won his spot, but his injuries helped in the discovery of Jared Spurgeon, so let's say he took one for the team. Again, decent presence around his net, solid rookie, can't wait to see what he can do in the long run. 20 games is a small sample for a player we never actually saw in a Wild uniform before.
Elise- GRADE: B Didn't put up a lot of points but adjusted to the NHL game very well and showed a lot of promise before going down with injury. Stepped up big for the Wild when they needed it and I'm looking forward to see how he comes into camp next season.
Dan- GRADE: B No one knew what to expect from the rookie defenseman, but he came in and played with confidence and poise. Mobile, smart, phyiscal. Hopefully he can turn his game into a top four defenseman
Bryan- GRADE: C Pizza looked good, and played some sound defense, but was sporadic. He needs to work on evening out his game a little bit, stay in position, and stay with the pace of the game before he gets too excited about the big hit, or jumping into the play. He has the makings of a very good d-man, if he can lock down the mistakes.
Nathan- GRADE: C+. Kid still needs to learn the speed of the game and consistency, but he showed great potential. It'll come. He'll be a solid replacement for Brent Burns or Marek Zidlicky within the next couple of years. The question is, will he be ready next year? With all the talk about Burns potentially being moved, Scandella will need to pick up his play and come in hot and ready in the fall. I'm excited about Scandella's improvement, but he needs to grab his opportunity and take advantage of it to make things a little easier on Chuck Fletcher.
Cumulative GPA: 2.40 C+
Scandella has yet to show exactly what he is capable of, and we'd like to see it. Showing some ability, Scandella could be a capable replacement for either Nick Schultz or Brent Burns, depending on which direction he heads in his development. Or, he could fizzle out completely.
It will be interesting to see how Chuck Fletcher manages the one area of the organization where there is true depth. Could Scandella be called up and never leave? Could he be traded as part of a package for a goal scorer? Could he ride it out in Houston? Only Fletcher can know that for sure.