This offseason, the Wild have made some significant upgrades to their roster. Remember that time the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on the same day? That was pretty cool, right?
Aside from those two, the Wild added NHL level depth like the team has never seen. When a player like Pierre-Marc Bouchard can sometimes be listed as the odd man out, the team has made some moves. That depth leads to a third and fourth line that can take their regular shift, and no one on the roster seems to be a waste of roster spot or a complete liability on the ice.
Which begs the question... who's the goon for the Wild?
Kassian has commanded a strange obsession from Adrian Dater, making him the clear favorite for Wild fans to take as many shifts as humanly possible. Kassian is a mean SOB when fighting, to the point that many of even the heavyweights don't seem to want anything to do with him. That tells me he is a tough mamma-jamma, and qualifies him for "goon" status.
Yes, I just used the term mamma-jamma.
The problem with giving Kassian the label "goon," is that Kassian can actually, you know, play hockey. He scored two goals in the same game last year, and while he will never be Wes Walz, is certainly a serviceable checking forward. There is absolutely no reason to doubt him on the PK or in late game situations. Play him a regular fourth line shift, and Kassian will come through 99% of the time.
The fact that Darcy Hordichuk will go toe-to-toe with Kassian should be enough to know that Kassian isn't a goon. Hordichuk wouldn't go anywhere near a true enforcer.
This guy has to be a front runner for goon status, right? Sure, if you can name another goon with the dominance in the faceoff circle that Konopka has had in his career. He plays PK minutes, he is put out for defensive zone faceoffs, and he plays a fairly regular shift. These are hallmarks of the non-goon type player.
Also, from all reports, he isn't exactly the most feared fighter of all time, so he loses goon points there, too. Maybe you can make a case using PIMs, but sometimes a guy has to go out and stir things up, even if they aren't a goon. Do PIMs automatically make a guy a goon?
If you were looking for a wild card in the race, Dowell may be it. He is, without a doubt, a tough, gritty, ready to drop with anyone type player. However, in 52 games last year, Dowell had just 53 PIMs. A goon is going to do better than that, right? I mean Kassian had 55 PIMs in 24 games, and we are struggling to call him a goon. Dowell certainly doesn't leap off the page as a goon, nor does he leap off the page in much of any other way. Still, could he be the guy if the Wild are looking to send a message?
What Say You?
Do the Wild have a "goon?" Do they need one? Is it someone not mentioned above? Make your case.