The Future is Wild

By Mike Wolf

In this first part, a look at the Wild’s strongest position, defense.

Filip Kuba- is 6-3 205 but looks bigger, Wild’s best overall defensemen didn’t
make many mistakes played a clean game, played in 75 games, lead the team in
average ice time, game winning goals. Scored 9g 21a for 30p and had 28pims.
Should improve on his rookie season, and become one of the top d-man in the
league.

Willie Mitchell- another 6-3 205 d-man, Willie has all the potential in the word, as we saw his play get better and
better each game he played for the Wild. Willie should turn in to one of the
better d-man the Wild will ever have, he likes to take the body but could use
it a little more, he will fight when needed, can produce on the O, this is
where he will get a lot better, and should have many 40 point maybe more
seasons to come. It also doesn’t hurt that he played for NJ. He had 1g 9a and
40pims in 33 games.

Andy Sutton- 6-6 245, Hugh Hulking defensemen, lead the team in hits, and
second in PIMS, a team leader by example, was always there for his
teammate’s. He also had a team high 5 shots vs SJ, a key part of the Wilds’
future, he had 3g 4a 7p and 131pims in 69 games.

Lubomir Sekeras- 6-0 183, Drafted as an overage European, he
performed like an NHL veteran, he played in 80 games was first in assists and
second in points, excellent on the power play with his hard shot, also had 50
takeaways to lead the team, he had 11g 23a 34p and 50pims in 80 games. If he
would have been younger he would have been a candidate for ROY.


Brad Bombardir- 6-1 205, Came to the Wild in a weird trade with NJ. Bombardir is
just what the Wild needed, and that’s leadership. a steady d-man not to
aggressive, almost nice on the ice, but hardly made any mistakes. He didn’t
score a goal, but was the only player on the Wild to wear the C for two
consecutive months.

Ladislav Benysek- 6-2 190, played in 71 games and was second in hits, third
in blocked shots, but only recorded 2g 5a 7p. He’s a bit player and never
really made an impact.

Mike Matteucci- 6-2 210, He’s a bit player, if he makes the team this year he
will be an 8th d-man, He didn’t look out of place in preseason (he almost made
the team) and in the 3 games he played in a Wild jersey. He’s basically an
enforcer, he had 0g 7a 7p and 189pims in 69 games for Cleveland this year.

Travis Roche- 6-1 190, Signed as a free agent just before the last Wild game
and right after the college championship game he played in, he played 2
seasons for North Dakota, in 83 games he won a championship in 2000, and had
16g 57a 73p and 100pims, he’s a smooth skater, with excellent passing skills,
should be a solid d-man for the Wild. Should have a good future.

Erik Reitz- 6-0 192, Smallish d-man but tough, should be a d-man for the Wild
in a few years, a late round steal, had 5g 21a 26p and 178pims in 68 games.
Most likely a very good 6th defensemen.

Nick Schultz- 6-0 187, Another small player, was drafted to early for a early
second round pick, will he be the next Brian Leetch or the next Jason
Woolley? Only time will tell, needs to get better defensively, is a smooth
skater with awesome passing skills. He had 17g 30a 47p and 120pims in 59
games for Prince Albert and in 2 games with Cleveland he had one goal.

Chris Armstrong- 6-0 205, a bit player, will never make the Wild as a
regular, he does have offensive talent though, also is too old.

Ian Herbers & Eric Charron- Both are big at 6-4 210 and 6-3 180 but don’t
have much skill, not likely to make the team next year.

Oleg Orekhovsky & Artem Anisimov- Oleg is 6-0 183 and Artem is 6-1 187, and both play in Russia. There
is talk Oleg will be at training camp this year, and Wild management is
excited about that.

With Kuba, Sutton, and Mitchell that gives the Wild 3 big man that have
proving they can play in the NHL, with Schultz, Roche, Orekhovsky, and
Anisimov, you have the skill, but will they make it to the NHL, and in
Bombardir, Reitz and a free agent signee you have the leadership. And that
gives the Wild a great group on young defensemen in the league. Maybe the
best young defensemen in the league.