The Minnesota Wild have a clear identity. It might have shifted slightly with the emergence of star Kirill Kaprizov and some other, more fresh and exciting young offensive talent, but the root of the roster is still identical to previous renditions: Hard-working, grindy, gritty, stable teams.
At times it’s been the major reason of their demise — opting for the less-talented-but-strong forwards instead of the ones that can simply will their way into scoring goals from anywhere in the zone. But under the tutelage of head coach Dean Evason and the current success that they have found themselves in, it’s really become a benefit and a way that they can overcome some lack of raw talent and end the majority of games they involve themselves in, being the victor.
It is because of this way that they have self-identified, that they ended up sending forward Rem Pitlick to the waiver wire — and tangentially to the Montreal Canadiens.
“Sometimes you gotta get out of your comfort zone in order to have success certainly at this level,” coach Evason said Wednesday. “We’d love to, but we can’t have 20 Kirill Kaprizovs, right? You have to have a mix. When you’re putting your lineup together, you look at it and you want to have fits.
“Connor Dewar’s played extremely well since coming up. Rem has played well in spurts for us as well, so I don’t want to take that away from him. He’s competed. He’s tried. It’s just a situation where we’re going to go in another direction.”
Simply put: Dewar has fit into the bottom-six much better than Pitlick has.
His performances as of late might have gone under the radar, considering he made his return at the same time as Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi’s NHL debuts; but Dewar has been exceptional and has led the intense forecheck of whatever line he appears on. His skating is more dynamic than Pitlick, and he’s also already appeared on the penalty kill. To sacrifice a little bit of skill (although maybe Dewar has that in his capabilities as well) for a much better fit, it’s easy to see the team’s rationale for making the move.
Pitlick has the unfortunate talents of having attributes as a top-six winger, but has never really been given that opportunity. Maybe in Montreal the 24-year-old will be able to blossom into more of that dynamic offensive player that he has show in development, but knowing how they have treated players in the past — Artturi Lehkonen says hello — that might be a little bit of a stretch. Just someone, anyone at all, please give Rem some top-line minutes to see what he can do. Arizona! Buffalo! Ottawa! You’re not doing anything at all, just try him out.
Anyways, well always have his natural hat trick.