We may be missing something here, but a few Wild fans a really upset with Justin Falk. Other than a few mistakes here and there, we aren't quite sure where the hate comes from. He is a massive presence that has finally learned how to use his size to his advantage, and is improving. Is he perfect? Not a chance. But he is not even 24 years old yet. Patience, folks. Patience.
Finally at a point where his development will start to hit the uphill curve, now does not seem the time to abandon ship on Falk. If anything, the Wild may want to consider redoubling their efforts and really push Falk into the role he was born to be in. The massive presence on the ice that every team needs. The guy who will make you pay a price for every inch you gain.
Now... will that matter for his grades? We'll find out.
#44 / Defenseman / Minnesota Wild
Oct 11, 1988
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Nathan- He finally started throwing around the big body, which is sorely needed on this team. Now he just needs to get better more consistently. He still slips into standing around and watching far too frequently. Any offense would be a plus. We need Falk to push people out of the slot and allow his partner to have a little more latitude in pinching and jumping into the play. He's 24 and learning how to use his size to his advantage. He'll get it. You can't teach size.
Bryan- Falk still hasn't proven himself to be the consistent player he needs to be to win over the hearts and minds of Wild fans, but he has them coming around. After last season, he was called out for not being tough enough. He responded. He was a big body presence the Wild really needed this season. The offense could improve, but if it comes at the expense of the defense, it isn't worth it. A young, giant defenseman? Yeah. He'll be just fine.
Jesse- I'll admit I'm a Falk fan. The 6'5" kid has promise. There were nights where Falk looked like the best defensman in a Wild sweater. He could be physically dominant, block shots, and play like a leader. Unfortunately, there were nights were Falk was noticeable for all the wrong reasons. He still doesn't play tough, physical hockey on a consistent basis, and he can get turned around and burned when he's on the weak side. The D-Core gave up way too many backdoor plays in general, but Falk seemed to be a guy who was victimized way too much. At 23, he's still learning the game and professional systems, but if it's not fixed this year, Falk could find his way out of town. He's not a top-pair guy, he probably doesn't have the offensive skills to play in meaningful 2nd-pair roles. That leaves 3rd-pair defense, and there are plenty of options at that point.
Grade - C+