Wild Prospect Depth Analysis: Defense Pt. 1

The forwards are extremely lacking in talent for the Wild. There is some depth to be found, thanks for the 2010 draft class and to the recent free-agent prospect signings. So, now how about on defense?

The Wild has always been known for their defense and goaltending, but this year, their defense was a bit more shaky for fan's tastes. So how does the pipeline look?

Because the Wild have so many defensive prospects, I decided to break it up into two parts. So, in this first part, we will dive into the AHL and see who we have with the Houston Aeros:


Jarod Spurgeon

#46 / Defense / Minnesota Wild

5-8

175

Nov 29, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Minnesota Wild
53 4 8 12 -1 2

excellent two-way game ... very good hockey IQ ... patient with the puck ... willing to block shots ... won Spokane Chief's Defenseman of the Year Award (2010, 2009), and the Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year (2008) ... small player ... average skater ... not physically intimidating ...

Where did this kid come from?

Invited to developmental camp after not being signed by the New York Islanders, he impressed enough to be invited to the team's main training camp. And after that? Spurgeon signs a three-year NHL entry level deal

Still, there where doubts. It was hard to for many to take a defenseman his size seriously. Many aren't comfortable watching a small guy like him defending against NHL sized forwards. But Spurgeon continued to prove doubters wrong.

Armed with tremendous hockey sense and poise with the puck, Spurgeon often makes the smart play that keeps the puck off opposing forwards. He also gives the Wild a mobile defenseman on the powerplay. Watch this defenseman concrete his place on the Wild roster during training camp.


Justin Falk

#44 / Defense / Houston Aeros

6-5

215

Oct 11, 1988



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
55 3 11 14 16 41

big stay-at-home defenseman ... good skating and mobile for his size ... plays positionally sound hockey ... good vision ... not overly physical ... average puck skills ... lacks offensive upside ...

And before Spurgeon came Justin Falk.

Falk provided a big body on the blueline, but unlike many big guys, he showed good mobility and skating skills.

However, he was inconsistent physically. Blessed with large size and playing a defensive game, it is expected Falk to show up physically and to give that strong hit or to clear the front of the net. He was then demoted back to the Aeros to work on his game but with the Wild's blueline already set for the 2011-12 season, Falk will have to wait till the following season or till someone gets traded, to challenge for a spot on the Wild roster.


Nate Prosser

#15 / Defense / Houston Aeros

6-2

207

May 7, 1986



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
73 8 19 27 12 31

offensive defenseman ... good size ... very mobile ... moves the puck well ... takes care of his own zone ... plays with an edge ... quite poised ... has good vision ... makes the good first pass ... needs to improve his skating ...

Another college free agent signing by GM Fletcher, Nate Prosser, like Justin Falk, will have a hard time cracking the Wild roster.

Already 24 years old and only in his first professional season, Prosser has done well in Houston. He possesses good size and handles the puck well.

However, the emergence of Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner, there just isn't room enough for defensemen. Prosser is also an expiring restricted free-agent so it will be interesting to see how the Wild handle his contract.


Maxim Noreau

#26 / Defense / Houston Aeros

6-0

194

May 24, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
76 10 44 54 -5 58

skates very well ... not afraid of physical play ... has plenty of offensive skills ... defensively sound ... can move the puck well ... has a good shot ... smart player ... competitive ... AHL Second All-Star Team (2010) ... somewhat undersized ...

The successes that Maxim Noreau has had with the Houston Aeros has sadly not transitioned to Minnesota.

In that short period of time where the Wild had to call up numerous defensemen to fill in a badly depleted blueline (via injuries), Noreau looked shaky.

He displayed his good mobility as well as puck skills but seemed to be shaken by the speed of the NHL game. Unfortunately, Noreau is an expiring restricted free agent but his chances with the Wild seem dark, again with the already full blueline.


Marco Scandella

#6 / Defense / Houston Aeros

6-2

217

Feb 23, 1990




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
33 3 16 19 0 17






defensive defenseman ... big, strong d-man ... strong skater ... very mobile for his size ... possesses a big shot ... plays physical ... responsible in both ends ... has put up points in juniors ... long wingspan ... plays a simple game ... silver medal WJC Canada team (2010) ... needs to move the puck quicker ...

Looking to the be the best Wild draft pick in the 2008 draft class, Marco Scandella impressed with his smart defensive game and poise.

While he plays mainly a defensive game, Scandella is showing off an offensive side to him. He is third in defensemen scoring, despite playing almost half amount of games of the current Aero's roster.

And despite my numerous mentions of a full Wild blueline, Scandella is only 20 years old so he has tons of time to develop with the Aeros and challenge for a spot.


Tyler Cuma

#61 / Defense / Houston Aeros

6-2

192

Feb 23, 1990




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
31 1 3 4 -3 15






very good puck moving skills ... reliable two-way defender ... strong skater ... big offensive upside ... knows when to pass or carry the puck out ... high hockey IQ ... good vision ... excellent work ethic ... won Ottawa 67's Top Scholastic Player (2008)... not physical enough ... not confident enough.

It's been a hard hockey career for Tyler Cuma.

Cuma has suffered a torn ACL, a sprain MCL, a torn meniscus and left knee problems. And this is in a short period of two years...

This is just sad to see, a kid this young get injured so often and never being able to show what he is capable of doing, always trying to rehab those numerous injuries. But Cuma is signed to a three year deal so maybe within those years, he'll be able to finally show why he was selected 23rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft


Jeff Penner

#5 / Defense / Houston Aeros

5-10

185

Apr 13, 1987




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
10 0 4 4 1 8






The main piece in the Wild's blockbuster deadline deal that sent Anton Khudobin to the Bruins, Penner has put up decent points but has not been relied on by the Aeros.

In their run to the Calder Cup Finals, Penner has only played four games while rookies like Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon and Nate Prosser has played 18 games each.

Still, Khudobin had no value to the Wild so at least the Wild got a young defenseman that gives the Aeros an extra warm body for their playoff run.

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