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Jarret Stoll won't fix Minnesota's penalty kill woes

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The Wild's new acquisition might not live up to his reputation as an ace penalty killer.

Jarret Stoll was the most-used penalty killer on a two-time Cup-winning Kings team.
Jarret Stoll was the most-used penalty killer on a two-time Cup-winning Kings team.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

If you were making a list of things that the Wild need to address, it'd be their center position and their 26th-ranked penalty kill. So picking up a player who could address both areas sounds great. That was the logic behind Minnesota scooping Jarret Stoll off waivers on Tuesday.

Stoll, 33, has drawn a lot of praise as a penalty killer since his acquisition by the Wild. GM Chuck Fletcher called him "very good" short-handed. Devan Dubnyk, who played behind Stoll in Edmonton said "[He's] unreal on the penalty kill. I think he'll be a great addition for us killing penalties." There's definitely a reason for them saying that, as Stoll was indeed the primary penalty killer on a Los Angeles Kings team that won the Stanley Cup twice.

And make no mistake, the Wild's penalty kill needs to be fixed. The Wild are 26th in the league in Penalty Kill% with a 77.1 success rate- a far cry from their league-leading 86.3% mark last season. This isn't a case where Minnesota's goaltending is letting in soft goals, either. According to War-on-Ice, the Wild allow the 4th-most shots and 3rd-most scoring chances in the league when shorthanded. An ace penalty killer is sorely needed in Minnesota.

I said "is sorely needed" instead of "was sorely needed" for a reason. Despite Stoll's reputation for killing penalties, there isn't much that suggests that he will be a major upgrade for the Wild.

The Kings have had a really good penalty kill since the 2012-13 season, as they've succeeded at limiting opportunities for their opponents' power plays. Unfortunately, this appears to be in spite of Stoll. Of all Kings that had 100+ shorthanded minutes in Stoll's last three years in LA, Stoll allowed the most shot attempts, while not providing the offensive threat that teammates like Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, and Dwight King provided.

Stoll doesn't fare well when compared to Minnesota's PK unit, either. Here's a quick look at how every Wild penalty killer has done since the lockout season (out of 159 forwards with 200+ shorthanded minutes). Since the primary goal of a penalty kill is to not allow the other team's power play to score, I'm ranking them by how well they suppress shots.

Player

Shots Allowed/60

Rank (out of 159)

Ryan Carter

36.95

1st

Chris Porter*

38.77

2nd*

Erik Haula

46.09

37th

Mikael Granlund*

46.87

43rd*

Justin Fontaine*

47.58

48th*

Jason Zucker*

50.09

69th*

Zach Parise*

53.02

100th*

Jarret Stoll

53.97

111th

Mikko Koivu

56.52

136th

Jason Pominville*

63.48

159th*

Charlie Coyle*

65.55

Last*

As you can see, the Wild's fourth-liners (Carter, Porter, and Haula) are actually really good at penalty killing as it is. Even though Haula is struggling a bit this year, he still has outperformed Stoll in this regard. Stoll stepping in for any of them is likely going to be a downgrade. And if you (wisely) want to limit Koivu or Coyle's PK minutes, Minnesota actually has a decent grou of forwards (Granlund, Zucker, Fontaine) who've shown to be effective in that role. When you look at the options the Wild have at their disposal, it's hard to argue that Stoll will be a significant upgrade over what Minnesota already has in-house.

That's not to say that picking up Stoll was a terrible move- the Wild do need some depth at center, and acquiring Stoll required no risk. If it doesn't work out, the Wild can make an upgrade without any drawback, and potentially have him in an "In case of injury, break glass" box in Iowa. Still, this move isn't too inspiring given that (on paper, at least) he's underwhelming in the one area that's supposed to be his bread-and-butter.

*An asterisk denotes a player that has had 50+ shorthanded minutes, but fell short of the 200 minute mark. Their rank reflects where they would've ranked against the 159 players who did qualify.