The rise of Marco Scandella has been a slow climb. A product of the 2008 NHL draft, selected in the 2nd round with the 55th overall pick, Scandella has come up through the organization alongside Jared Spurgeon, who was also a product to the 2008 draft where he was selected in the 6th round by the New York Islanders. Spurgeon would eventually make his way to the Wild after the Islanders chose not to retain him, and the pair have spent a lot of time together in games. To see them beginning to emerge as premier defensemen in the NHL has to be gratifying to the Wild's scouts and development team.
Marco Scandella has quietly been working his way through his career with the Wild. That is all starting to change as we are starting to see a real emergence in Scandella's game. Signs of his emergence have been trickling in for a few seasons now and everything is starting to come together for the young defensemen. This season, Scandella has been one of the best surprises on the Wild's blue line, and it's easy to see why.
In the 2013-2014 season, Scandella's usage on the ice brought him some relatively tough minutes. With a larger share of his zone starts coming on the Wild's end of the ice, and against a slightly above average quality of competition. Scandella was relegated to protecting the Wild's net more often than not, and although he did not overly excel at this, he was not terrible either. His game grew as the season progressed and we all started to take notice.
Although a slightly under 50% Corsi for at 5v5 close in the 2013-2014 season, he was still able to keep the opposition from sticking the puck in our net more often than not. The corsi numbers here are slightly skewed with the majority of his starts coming in the defensive zone as well. But you can easily see, the emergence had started. He was handed some relatively tough minutes, and although we can see from the numbers he tended to struggle at times. For the most part however he was able to secure the puck and move it up the ice for some quality offensive chances.
Scandella, very quietly, had a good season last year. His size proved to be an asset on the ice and gave him the tools to clear out the dirty areas in front of the net as well as in the trenches along the walls. All this while splitting time with defensive partners Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and the pride of Elk River, Nate Prosser.
Fast forward to this season, Scandella has been nothing short of impressive. Obviously the relatively small sample size has an effect on these numbers and will even out over the course of the season. Yet, his game has grown, and it's a product you can see on the ice. The way he maintains composure and the use of his bigger frame to clear out the junk in front of Darcy Kuemper or Niklas Backstrom. His usage has started to even out as well while his assignments against the opposition have only gotten more difficult. He has been up for the task.
Only Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have faced tougher competition in this young season, but neither of them are getting quite the same zone starts as Scandella. Marco has been given some tougher minutes, and has become a sort of 2-way defensemen at the same time in protecting the Wild's net while becoming an offensive threat. He's not quite there yet, but the signs are certainly pointing towards big numbers coming his way if he can keep developing.
Scandella's numbers so far this season are fantastic. They will almost certainly will regress a bit as the season goes on, but in 10 games this season he is just 1 goal shy of tying his season high of 3 goals, which he has done twice in his career, and at the pace he's going it's unlikely to stop there. With how Yeo has the defense jumping into the play, look for more scoring threats coming from the blue line this season.
Scandella has slowly, but surely advanced his game and become a stalwart on the blue line for the Wild. Looking at the evolution of his game over the course of his career you can almost watch him growing all over again.
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Watching his minutes slowly rise is a sure sign the organization has started to trust Scandella more and more as time has progressed. The lone outlying number in these would easily be his average time on ice in the 2011-2012 season. It's no wonder with names like Mike Lundin, Nate Prosser, and an aggravated Marek Zidlicky still back there for the Wild, that some defenders would see larger minutes despite not being as proven on the ice.
When it comes to Scandella in the playoffs, he turns it up a notch. This is the kind of detail you like to see in a young player when the stakes are on the rise. Scandella, through 18 playoff appearances in his career has notched 3 goals and 2 assists, and one of his goals coming on the PK against the Colorado Avalanche last April. When the lights are shining a little brighter, Scandella has followed suit.
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Marco Scandella has come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. He's seeing another increase in TOI in games which is only to the benefit of players like Ryan Suter who will get even better when their work-load starts to decrease. He's seeing time on the PP unit as well as time on the PK. Scandella has become a jack of all trades for the Minnesota Wild blue line, and it has become a real exciting time to follow his career the last few seasons.
With his emergence early in this season, the blue line is starting to take on a depth the Wild have not enjoyed the likes of ever in their history. We are starting to see some of the questions we had been asking during the off season get answers already. Scandella, Brodin, Spurgeon, Suter, and up and coming prospects Matt Dumba and Christian Folin are going to solidify the blue line for the foreseeable future. Watching Scandella mature into a massive asset for the Wild has bolstered our defense, and he's becoming a large reason for the early season success.