The Minnesota Wild established themselves as one of the best teams in the Western Conference during 2021-22. They have a core that puts them in a position to be one of the best teams in the conference for some time.
There are some questions, however, about what their lineup will look like. That rings especially true on the back end. The Wild have a deep group, but there is one name in particular – Calen Addison – who sparks some interest.
A Banner Year for the Wild
The 2021-22 season was an interesting one for the Minnesota Wild. They have long been a team mired in the middle of the Central Division standings. There have been playoff appearances here and there, sure, but first-round exits to follow.
This past season, the Wild set franchise marks across the board. Their 53 wins and 113 points were the best ever in franchise history, topping the marks set by the 2016-17 group (49 wins, 106 points). It was also a season in which they scored more goals than ever before, ringing up 310 goals.
On the flip side, the Wild allowed the most goals in a single season as well. Their 253 goals against is more than the previous record of 246 in 2009-10 and 238 in their second year back in 2001-02. There are a lot of questions about their goaltending and defense right now.
Calen Addison… he does it all 🤣
More » https://t.co/fUrjsGgfj0 pic.twitter.com/YkczK94a7E
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 1, 2021
The Dumba Problem
There is something to note with the Wild blueline. They might not jump off the page as having the most talented group, but they had some of the best depth in the league last year. That depth is largely there heading into 2022-23, but there are question marks.
First and foremost is the status of star defenseman Matt Dumba. Dumba, the 7th overall pick back in 2012, has been a staple on the blue line for years. He combines offensive acumen with a mean streak and a physical game to match it all.
Having said that, there is a matter of his contract status. During the 2018 offseason, Dumba signed a 5-year, $30 million contract extension. That deal is set to come to an end at the end of the coming season.
He is clearly a key part of the team.
The team would love to keep the pending unrestricted free agent beyond next year. But he is going to be due a hefty raise, one that the Wild may not be so keen on giving to him.
It begs the question of whether Dumba will be with the Wild when his deal expires. There were rumors swirling last season about a potential deal, though his modified no-trade clause does provide some challenge to the team.
This opens the door for a young blueliner to step in and potentially take some of those minutes should Dumba depart. Enter: Calen Addison.
Matt Dumba was HYPED during Brandon Duhaime's fight. 😤🥊 #mnwild pic.twitter.com/qaHDv6XQAj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 30, 2022
Calen Addison Profile
Addison is a 22-year-old defenseman. He was originally drafted 53rd overall (2nd round) back in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He came to be part of the Wild organization in the trade that sent longtime-Wild winger Jason Zucker to the Penguins.
Addison made his debut with the Minnesota Wild back during the 2020-21 season, playing just 3 games with the big club. What is more noteworthy is that he spent the bulk of his first professional season with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
He did nothing short of impress during his time there. In his first season, 31 games during 2020-21, he netted 22 points in 31 games, establishing himself as a presence in the AHL. He would continue to grow in year 2.
During 43 games with Iowa in 2021-22, Addison hit new career-highs in goals (7), assists (27), and points (34). He also made 15 appearances with the big club, posting a pair of goals and assists over that time and not looking out of place.
Hear from @calenaddison after he scored his first goal tonight… and why it's extra special 💜#mnwild | #HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/UkWijc5cXc
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) November 3, 2021
The Future for Addison
Given his performance in the AHL and brief appearances in the NHL, it is expected that there is a spot for Addison to take in 2022-23. He will get every opportunity to claim one of the spots in the top 6 for Minnesota coming out of camp, especially with the trading of veteran defenseman Dimitry Kulikov.
The top end of the Wild defense is spoken for. Dumba, Jonas Brodin, and Jared Spurgeon have spots in the top 4 locked down. Veterans Alex Goligoski and Jon Merrill will likely be solidified in the other spots, though Merrill is on the fence.
That leaves a spot for Addison to be integrated into the lineup on a full-time basis. He will get a chance to shine on the bottom pairing, getting him acclimated to a full-time role before hopefully stepping into a top 4 role in 2023-24, presumably with Dumba gone.
Calen Addison scored the first goal of his NHL career, which took on added significance during #HockeyFightsCancer Awareness Night at Xcel Energy Center. 💜
📸: @mnwild pic.twitter.com/iGxDcwKgmO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 3, 2021
Credits on Featured Image: Amy Meredith on Flickr