Calen Addison came into Minnesota Wild training camp as someone that should be destined to take on a regular role with the first team, and has been forced into that situation with the injury to Jon Merrill. With that opportunity in-hand, the 22-year-old defenseman has taken full control of it. At times, being the best blueliner on the ice during the preseason, and earning a spot on the top powerplay unit (for now).
Addison was asked about his new role and being depended on to be that offensive weapon among the other stars of this team.
“I try not to read into anything,” he said after practice on Friday. “I just come in here every day and work as hard as I can. Literally, just go out there and do what I can and show them what I can do. You try not to look into lines and units and stuff like that. Things change and obviously this team is so deep and so skilled that there are a lot of guys that can play in really any different position on any given night.”
But, in the end he couldn’t help to get all giddy about the opportunity he earned, and being out there with the likes of Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy.
“Just to be out there with a group of guys like that is special and like I said, something I can never take for granted,” Addison said. “Just to be able to play with some of those guys out there is awesome.”
And the thing is, he truly belongs there and it’s not like some lucky little child being able to participate in a charity game. Addison has taken full control of this opportunity during the last few weeks and might just end up leading all Wild defensemen in scoring this season because of it.
While at 5-on-5 during the two preseason games he’s played, there’s nothing much to praise — breaking even in almost every shot-based category — he scored a beauty of a goal on the powerplay during the preseason opener.
Just the way that he can take the puck in the middle of his stride, walk the blue line to find a solid opening, and shoot the puck with enough quickness to not let the defense prepare, is wonderful.
And the thing is, there is a fairly low bar for Addison to climb over to end up being the Wild’s best option as a powerplay quarterback. We absolutely adore Jared Spurgeon, but last year, there wasn’t the sense that he can take control of a unit and be reliable enough to contribute regularly on the man advantage. Luckily, Kaprizov, Boldy, and Mats Zuccarello carried that top unit to the limited success that they did have, but adding Addison can provide a new dynamic.
Just last year, Spurgeon finished fifth in scoring on the powerplay with 14 points. Do we think Addison can score more, and maybe even within the first 40 games with that unit? Possibly!
Even when it comes to scoring actual goals from the blue line — something Addison has already shown that he is capable of doing — we got essentially none of that last season. Jonas Brodin, Jordie Benn, and Matt Dumba tied for the most powerplay goals scored by a Wild defenseman last season with one. One! Just three of the 54 goals scored on the Wild’s powerplay last year came from a defensemen. An incredible feat, and hopefully Addison can change that.
There is at least that option now and we are glad that it’s happening immediately and we don’t have to beg and plead for this young offensive dynamo to get some powerplay time 30 or 40 games into the season.