If we have learned anything being a Minnesota Wild fan, we can all collectively fall in love with the mediocre, the just-alright, and the meh. So before this season gets started, why not take a look around the 20 different rosters we’ve enjoyed and pick some of our personal favorite and memorable players that fall under that category of passable hockey players.
Our definition of average Wild players and the reasons why they are our favorites, is completely subjective. So let’s just see what everyone says.
Brock: For me, to be a beloved mediocre player requires a play style centered around grit and annoying the opposition. A mediocre Wild player who embodied this style was the Elk River native, Nate Prosser. For what Prosser lacked in speed, hands, and general ability he made up for in with his ability to block shots and be a nuisance for other teams. One other trait I admired about him was that he wasn’t afraid to get in the face of a goon or a star of another team. One memorable moment that exemplified this was when he picked a fight with Gabriel Landeskog. In a clip that will probably be the most famous of his career, the camera picked up Landeskog laying down some very effective insults, to say the least. Prosser responds, or so it seems, by saying “that doesn’t bother me! That doesn’t bother me.” That was what you got with Prosser, someone who wasn’t going to wow you, who might get embarrassed once in a while on the ice, but wasn’t going to let it ruin his day.
All-time great trash talk lip reading. Prosser was picked up off the waiver wire this season.— John Quaintance (@John_Quaintance) March 14, 2018
LANDESKOG: Oh, shut the f__ up. Oh shut up. Go back on waivers you f__ing punk.Go back on waivers.
PROSSER: Oh, you know what? That doesn't f___ing bother me! That doesn't bother me! pic.twitter.com/0f0qLNVKSr
Justin: My favorite mediocre Wild player is Hartman. For beer league, I puck-mark my stick like he had it in last year’s playoffs, dark at the bottom with a gradient to the top. I think that’s when he really solidified himself as a favorite of mine, supporting Fiala through those playoffs. As a rare right-hander in Minnesota, he’s always going to be helpful on a roster full of guys who love to pass and who all somehow end up being left-handed. He skates balls to the wall all the time, chips in on defense, and even does okay on the faceoff dot. His versatility makes him a jack of all trades, master of none, but that’s why he’s such a lovable mediocre player on this roster.
Thomas: Despite his name being linked forever to the notion of a player launching a puck clear over the net, my favorite just-mediocre player is certainly Antti Miettinen. The common winger for everyone’s favorite Wild captain Mikko Koivu — and that fact might render him incapable of the mediocre label — was just always there and sometimes was ready to play as physical as he needed to be. Hell, he even bashed shoulders with future Wild defenseman Ryan Suter when he was with the Nashville Predators. And he even has a band.
Matt: There will no doubt be a few fans amongst their oldest cohort that disagree with me for calling Wes Walz mediocre, but deep down, in their heart of hearts, they know I’m right. While we still get to enjoy — or loathe — Walz’s presence on the broadcast, his time in the Wild uniform was punctuated by some mediocrely productive seasons. His best season with the Wild came in 2005-06; a career-high in goals (19) and 37 points (good for 6th on the team) at the ripe old age of 35. Point-production was never Walz’s calling card, and it wasn’t the reason he became a favorite of inaugural head coach Jacques Lemaire.
Drafted by the Boston Bruins at 57th overall in the 1989 draft, Walz wandered around the NHL with stops in Calgary, Philadelphia, Calgary and Detroit before departing for hockey in Switzerland. He joined the Wild in their first season, and despite his mediocre point-production, his two-way play meant he fit right into Lemaire’s vision for this team. He embodied everything that the organization wanted out of those early versions of the Minnesota Wild. If that’s what they were going for, maybe they should have gone for someone less...mediocre.
Kyle: Nate Prosser. Pross is a replacement-level player that never set the scoresheet on fire or had that wow moment, but he’s a guy worth cheering for that checked all the boxes for me, and a lot of other Wild fans. He’s a native of Elk River, Minnesota, so he’s #OneOfUs. He’s a great locker room guy, a guy that will support a struggling teammate, coach up a rookie, or drop the gloves to defend his linemate. He suffered roster cuts at the junior level, went undrafted (twice), and has been placed and claimed on waivers more times than most NHLers. Even his dad told Michael Russo of The Athletic that he sees his son’s game as “not pretty.”
But he’s always come back, worked hard, and done what he could to help out the Wild…or the Blues, or the Flyers, or whatever team comes calling. Basically, if you don’t notice Prosser — or his third-pairing linemate — you know he’s doing something right. Sure, Prosser isn’t the name you’re going to see on the backs of many jerseys at the Xcel Energy Center, not now, nor during his 10-year NHL career. And maybe the reason that a replacement-level player who would normally be a journeyman depth defenseman spent parts of nine of those years with the Wild is more an indictment on the players that Chuck Fletcher and Paul Fenton tried to replace him with – the likes of Mike Reilly, Gustaf Olafsson or Kyle Quincey. And yes, the Wild press box was known as the “Pross Box” since Nate spent so much time there as a healthy scratch.
But damn if you couldn’t help but cheer for a guy who was nothing but positive, supporting and worked his butt off despite never knowing if and when that next waiver-call shoe was going to drop.
Do you have any favorite not mentioned or want to add on to our blurbs? Leave us a comment!