I just sat here for five minutes trying to think of some names of mobile, physical defensemen the Wild has had and I just couldn't think of any. Nada..
Unless you consider Willie Mitchell mobile...
At this current point in time, the closest things we have to that is Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella and prospect Matt Dumba.
Ryan Suter better be able to clear the net since we are paying him $7.538 million dollars a year. Scandella is mobile and strong but his consistency waivers. Dumba can hit and can skate but he is still a question-mark, as all prospects are.
We all know GM Chuck Fletcher likes to trade and armed with a 2nd, 2 3rds, and rumors circulating that he may look to trade Cal Clutterbuck and Tom Gilbert for that extra cap space, sky is the limit in terms of what we can acquire. That includes a 2013 1st round pick.
So who, just who, might the Wild be in range to select that can fill our need for a mobile and physical, crease-clearing defenseman?
D Samuel Morin - Rimouski (QMJHL)
Morin has been a quick riser this past few months after a strong finish in the QMJHL and a solid performance in the U-18 tournament. Throughout the season, he was pegged as a 25-35 type of prospect but some now are wondering he if has the stuff to be a top 15 pick.
He is an intimidating 6-6 202lbs defenseman that can skate and that can move the puck. He has a huge reach that he uses to keep opposing forwards at bay, uses his size and strength to annoy opponents, and makes quick and efficient passes to clear the zone.
By no means will he run an NHL powerplay and he isn't overly physical either. But it is hard to ignore a 6-6 defenseman that uses his size and strength effectively and has all the other skills to become not just a defensive defenseman but a strong two-way presence.
D Steven Santini - USA U-18 (USHL)
It says alot if you score 0 points in 7 games during the WJC U18 tournament and still be named the tournaments best defenseman. Why can't we have that type of voting in the NHL?
Anyways, Santini is strong, mobile and tough-as-nails to beat defensively and physically. He reminded me of Ryan Suter the way he plays in the defensive zone. He doesn't possess intimidating size but he maintains good gap control, is good at squeezing players against the boards and is good at keeping the puck to the outside. Very unflashy and might not produce alot of points but he plays his role as a defensive defenseman extremelly well and efficient.
D Michael Downing - Dubuque Saints (USHL)
A bit more raw compared the two players previously mentioned, but he has all the raw tools to become an impact player. He has the frame, the mobility, and the grit in his game to be very hard to play against. When he is on, Downing can just be a dominating presence from the blueline because not only can he be gritty defensive presence but he can utilize his mobility and solid stick skills to produce offense and get the puck into the offensive zone.
However, that is when he is on. Some reports question is overall hockey sense as they have seen him sometimes force the play too much.
But when you are picking middle 2nd round or early 3rd, Downing is a name that should be coming up in discussions.
D Jonathan-Ismael Diaby - Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
If you are looking for one of the biggest gambles in this years draft, look no further than Jonathan-Ismael Diaby. Blessed with a 6-5 223lbs frame, Diaby can shutdown and punish opposing forwards. The rest of his game is still considered average, but he has been improving throughout the season.
His mobility and offensive skills are nothing special and need to keep improving but it is his size and ability to use his size to bring a gritty aspect of the game that not many can is one that has scouts interest. If he can put it all together, you might end up with a 6-5 defenseman that can be your team's #1 PKer while throwing big hits and agitating the other team.