The Minnesota Wild find themselves in a bit of a pinch on the blueline. Jonas Brodin went down with the dreaded “lower body” injury on 2/23 and, just two days later, was followed by Jon Merrill due to illness.
With two of the top four missing from their defensive crew, the Wild had to act fast. For that reason, journeyman defenseman Dakota Mermis was recalled from the Iowa Wild of the AHL. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Minnesota defense, who Mermis is, and how long he can be expected to stick around.
What’s going on with the Minnesota defense
From a team standpoint, it is hard to argue with what the Wild have done as a unit this season. Collectively, the group ranks ninth in the NHL in goals against as well as goals against per game. Some of that obviously goes to the goaltending but team defense plays a part.
The Wild also find themselves in the middle of a race for the playoffs, one that is congested in the Western Conference at the moment. The Wild are in “safe” territory for the moment, sitting just two points back of the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars.
That said, things aren’t all golden. Despite sitting in the second spot in the division, the positioning is precarious at best. They are just one point ahead of third- and fourth-place Colorado and Winnipeg. As a matter of fact, there is just six points separating the top six teams in the entire conference.
The Wild have been playing well of late, posting a 6-2-2 record over their last 10 games. So, losing a pair of top six defensemen is not exactly something that they want to see.
— Iowa Wild (@IAWild) January 8, 2023
Injuries and Illness
The biggest issue facing the Wild right now may be untimely injuries. The first, and most important injury comes to stalwart veteran Jonas Brodin. It had been speculated that Brodin was dealing with some sort of recurring lower body injury throughout the season.
According to the coaches, he kept aggravating the injury and the medical staff thought it best to give him some time to heal. The injury was suspected to have happened back on February 6 against Arizona and has ultimately landed him on injured reserve.
His presence will undoubtedly be missed as he recoups and attempts to get back to as close to 100% as he can. If that weren’t bad enough, veteran defenseman Jon Merrill was also given time off as he is recovering from an illness. While that is much more short-term than what Brodin is dealing with, it isn’t the best of situations.
The Wild are now in a very tough situation. They will surely get Merrill back sooner rather than later but with Brodin out for a while, another injury could play hell. Which leads to the Wild’s most recent call-up.
— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) February 18, 2023
Who is Dakota Mermis?
The good news is that Mermis is no wide-eyed rookie who may get overwhelmed by a quick call-up. The undrafted free agent has been around for the better part of a decade now, having just turned 29 years old this past January.
Mermis has an interesting past in that he began primarily within the United States National Developmental program before ultimately transitioning to the Canadian Hockey League. He spent a season in the USHL before playing 19 games with the University of Denver in 2012-13.
He would ultimately decide that the OHL would be the best path, joining the London Knights for three seasons, even wearing the alternate captain title during his final season. Though he showed good two-way ability, it would not be enough to get a draft selection.
Mermis has been mostly a solid AHL player since. He has played for the Springfield Falcons, Tucson Roadrunners (where he served as captain), Binghamton Devils, and now the Iowa Wild. He has also had 25 NHL games under his belt throughout the years, so the “awe” factor should be gone for him.
#mnwild roster news:
We've recalled defenseman Dakota Mermis from Iowa. Full details ⬇️
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) February 22, 2023
How long will Mermis stick around?
On the surface, it definitely looks like a short-term solution to a pair of top six defensemen being out. Having said that, the Brodin injury may result in a slightly longer stay for Mermis than would normally be the case.
Another injury would result in the need to bring him back anyway, so it would not be shocking if he stayed with the club as a 6th/7th defenseman for the remainder of the year. Brodin’s return could put that into question but the Wild should play it safe.
Mermis isn’t going to blow anyone away in one facet of the game but shows a solid two-way flare. He’s not big but plays with physical tenacity and can chip in offensively if pressed. This will be the extended audition he has been looking for.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) February 23, 2023