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  • The Wild Can't Afford To Let Calen Addison Rot In the Press Box

    Luke Sims

    The Minnesota Wild got Jonas Brodin back from illness before playing the Edmonton Oilers on the road, and they were forced to scratch a defenseman. Sadly, they chose to scratch Calen Addison.



    Dean Evason took rookie Calen Addison out before a game against the best offensive duo in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Brodin is historically excellent against these two, and it makes sense the Wild would want to play a more “defensive” game.


    The Wild ceded three goals to McDavid and Co., with Addison playing and Brodin out. Without supposedly their best defenseman, the Wild only allowed three goals. But the Wild gave up five with Brodin in and Addison out in their most recent tilt against the Oilers.


    Evason put Addison back into the lineup in the next game against the Vancouver Canucks, and he assisted on Boldy’s game-winning power-play goal. With that assist, Addison ranks 5th in rookie scoring and first in rookie scoring by a defenseman. Evason had to know he was not going to enter the Wild lineup as a rookie and be a great defenseman in terms of defense. If we look at what was said about Addison before the year started, we can see that was the case.


    Dobber Prospects, which has a database of over 1,000 NHL prospects, had this to say last year about Addison: “Undersized puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside. Likely a future power-play QB.” That was before he switched to a full-time role with the big club.


    Addison has the team's lowest PDO (Shooting% + Save%), hinting that there is more in him. His Corsi for% is fourth on the team. He leads Wild defensemen in points and has revolutionized Minnesota’s powerplay from last year. He’s fourth on the team in offensive point share.


    I understand that Addison plays a highly sheltered role. He was heralded as a power-play specialist, and the Wild will emphasize his strengths and cover up his weaknesses as a rookie defenseman. Addison’s offensive zone start percentage is over 60%, and 11 of his 15 points are on the powerplay. These numbers should not shock anyone. He was given the keys to the power play right out of camp. The Wild had a role in mind for him, and he has delivered on those expectations.


    Addison has more points than Brodin, Goligoski and Merril combined. He also has more points than half of the Wild defensive core combined. While Alex Goligoski’s overtime winner was a lot of fun, he still only has three points in 14 games.


    I’m not saying that Calen Addison is a perfect player, but the Wild need him on the ice.


    Dean says that Addison needs to defend better to be a more capable two-way defenseman. His offensive statistics are great, but the defensive side of his game still lacks.


    What is Wild hockey known for? Defense, toughness, grit. All good things. The Wild’s head coach emphasizes that with their style of play and his press conference words. You can see it in his assembly of the GREEF line, Kevin Fiala's treatment, acquiring Jake Middleton, and the trade for Ryan Reaves. The Wild repeatedly chooses toughness and physicality over skill.


    The coaching and management are on the same page. Tough guys can win hockey games, and the Wild want to be a tough team.


    *checks Minnesota Wild player profiles*


    Calen Addison…




    One-hundred-and-seventy-three pounds


    Last on the team in hits and last on the team amongst defensemen in blocks.



    Safe to say that’s not exactly the ideal Evason defenseman.


    After the scratching in Edmonton, Addison responded in a big way.



    Statistically, he was the best blueliner for the Wild against Vancouver, and that is great to see from a rookie trying to avoid the Dean Evason dog house that some young players have found themselves stuck in over the years.


    Is Dean Evason an evil genius, and he knew Addison had more in him? Was he just trying to unlock his true potential? Maybe.


    Perhaps Evason doesn’t like Addison’s lack of size and physicality and wants a bigger, grittier defenseman like Merrill out there. Maybe Evason is holding Addison to a higher standard than everyone else to get the best out of him. Perhaps he was just letting Addison get a breather.


    Whatever the case may be, the Wild need Addison roving the blueline. His decisiveness and offensive skill are invaluable on a Wild defense without any true offensive threat. The Minnesota Wild will be better off if they let the top four defensemen keep doing what they are doing and let Calen Addison keep excelling in the expected role.


    All stats via Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and Hockey Reference.

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