If the Minnesota Wild hope to become serious contenders for the Stanley Cup, they need to improve their defense. The Wild have one of the best farm systems in the NHL, but most of their clue chip prospects are forwards: Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, and Brert Bulmer all come to mind. The club recently signed Ryan Suter and used their first-round draft pick to select Mathew Dumba this year, but Marco Scandella could potentially develop into a very valuable blueliner.
Just 22 years old, Scandella is from Montreal, Quebec. Listed at 6’2″ and 208 lbs, he has a good frame and is an above-average skater. He recently helped team Canada win the silver medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships. Scandella plays an aggressive game and is quick to jump into the rush on offense, though he sometimes seems overmatched on defense, particularly against star-level opponents.
Scandella scored his first NHL goal in the first game of the 2011-12 last season on an aggressive play where he and Jared Spurgeon rushed down the ice, showing the type of potential he has to create offense for the Wild. He finished the season with just (3+9=12) in 63 games, adding 46 hits, 106 blocked shots, and 19 PIM. His plus/minus was among the lowest of any Wild player at -22, though he was -17 on the road and -5 at home, suggesting that as he matures he could improve his play on the road.
At just 22 years of age, Scandella has been given every opportunity to gain NHL experience, and he shows good potential at both ends of the ice. He has a lot of room to develop before he could be considered a top-line player, but with the way the Wild organization is shaping up, he could develop into a valuable top-four defenseman.