There is pride in depth and the Minnesota Wild have boasted about theirs for the entire season. And it’s not factually inaccurate. Any time that this team has come across an injury or an absence, they have been able to adequately replace said player and more or less, have the results not be swayed one way or another. That is one of the key reasons why they currently sit second in the Central division and there are only four teams in the entire NHL that have earned more points this season.
One of those injury-caused call-ups was speedy forward Connor Dewar and ever since he first stepped on the ice in a big-league game, he has made statement after statement explaining why he should be here permanently.
Through a few stretches of play with intermittent trips back down to the AHL, Dewar has scored six points in the first 35 NHL games of his career. But it’s not the points that we are really concerned about or what places value in what he does. Despite Dewar being 5-foot-10 on a good day, he will rush into just about any defender without hesitation and will be a pest among pests.
He is, as head coach Dean Evason would call every player on this roster, a true Minnesota Wild player.
And he showed more of that in the recent win over the Nashville Predators while playing in an elevated role due to a couple of key absences. At 5-on-5, he was his typical self and although nothing really shone through as a highlight, he still earned an on-ice shot attempt share of 70(!) percent, bringing his season total to 53.44 percent, according to Natural Stat Trick.
He is a plus player when the teams are even, but the real jaw-dropping clips and times in the game where you just have to gawk at what he can do and how frustrated he can make his opponents, is on the penalty kill.
Dewar has done this already a few times this season. Breaking up passes or blocking shots while shorthanded, and then rushing down the ice with his wheels greased and knocking at least 30 seconds off the opposition’s power play. It must be so rage-inducing to be on that man advantage, but it is perfect and has happened enough to be a real thing that he can do at the top level.
And sometimes, instead of holding the puck in the corner, knocking it back and forth between his skates as seconds tick by, he actually finds some space on the ice and can get a scoring chance in.
On the penalty kill alone, Dewar is demonstrating why he should be a full-time NHL player, and I support it wholeheartedly.
There is, of course, reasons why he won’t be here when the roster is fully healthy. There just isn’t enough room and enough mediocre players that can viably get healthy scratched to make room for the 22-year-old kid from The Pas, Manitoba. Among his depth forward brethren, Dewar is the easiest to justify sitting. Brandon Duhaime is more physical (in a punch-you-in-your-face way), Nicolas Deslauriers is a friend to everyone and has shown enough to stick around, and Tyson Jost has that experienced offense and is a true NHL player. That will most likely be the fourth line once everyone is back (hopefully in for Game 1) and Dewar will be there just in case.
At least, with the AHL regular season wrapping up and Iowa’s playoff hopes still hanging by a single thread, Dewar will stick here whether he is in the lineup or not. For next season, if I have to send a mysterious USB drive full of clips of him on the penalty kill, to Dean Evason’s office, for him to earn a permanent spot in this lineup, I just might do exactly that.