The Wild Twitter account this morning beat Russo by about fifteen seconds in reporting that Brad Staubitz has been placed on waivers by the Wild. After last night's game, the rage from Mike Yeo was visible on his face, and evident in his words. While we here at Hockey Wilderness felt the Wild were simply beat by a better team, the coach, and just about everyone else, disagreed. This move has to be, at least partially, a result of those feelings.
When the Wild play the Canucks, things get heated. Play always becomes chippy, and the game almost always devolves into a contest of physicality. Last night the only fight for the Wild belonged to Cal Clutterbuck. When Clutterbuck drops the gloves and the Wild's "enforcer" doesn't, Tom Hanks is cued to deliver his line.
"Houston, we have a problem."
Staubitz is one of two players bearing the burden of the scapegoat label from Wild fans. In our opinion here, deservedly so. No points in 43 games, and nine fighting majors. According to HockeyFights.com, Staubitz won just four of those bouts. Watching the replays there, it also has to be mentioned that they are using the NHL's definition of a "fight," not one we would use.
To be sure, Staubitz was not brought in to score points. He was however, supposed to be the answer to a guy with toughness, who could fight, and wasn't "just a goon." He has turned out to be the answer, but the wrong answer. A goon is guy who is good at one thing. Fighting. Staubitz is a guy who isn't really good for much of anything.
Blunt, yes, but also true. He doesn't score, he's soft on the puck, he isn't nearly physical enough for his role, his forecheck is solid but spotty, he was far too easy goading into taking penalties, and he isn't much of a fighter. For long stretches of time, it was unclear why Mike Yeo continued to play Staubitz. He does not seem to fit Yeo's style of character. Willing to sacrifice for the team, to stand up for the guy next you and to assert your presence when needed.
If Staubitz was going to be the type of player he has been this season, Matt Kassian fills the same role, but is unafraid to throw a hit, and is a much more intimidating presence on the ice.
What happens is Staubitz clears waivers is yet to be seen. The Wild are not required to send him to Houston for 30 days. He makes $575K (per capgeek), so being in Houston is not a huge blow to the pocketbook either. Maybe some team is desperate for a warm body, but looking at the current state of the NHL, that is unlikely.
No matter the case when a player is potentially done with the Wild we wish him well. Even here, we hope this serves Staubitz well in some way. If nothing else, it can be a wake up cal and maybe he gets his game going. The likelihood of Brad Staubitz leaving and putting up numbers like Eric Nystrom is pretty low, though.
The next question is... if Staubitz is gone, who comes in?