Cal Clutterbuck is ready for his encore.
Last training camp, Clutterbuck was such a blip on the Wild's radar, then-coach Jacques Lemaire barely knew who he was.
But one Marian Gaborik injury later, and Clutterbuck burst onto the scene and refused to leave.
He became a revelation, somebody who would ultimately lead the league with 356 hits. The consistency of his physical play was extraordinary for a 5-10, 209-pound player. He routinely rattled opposing bodies seven, eight, nine times a night.
He gained notoriety when famed "Hockey Night in Canada" personality Don Cherry called him "Buttercup," for fighting while wearing a visor. He talks smack better than most 10-year vets, once asking Vancouver's Ryan Kesler how it felt "to have your nose resting against your visor the whole game" and asking Colorado's Darcy Tucker to brush his teeth before speaking to him again.
Wild fans fell for him. There was even a half-kidding, grassroots movement to gain Clutterbuck Rookie of the Year votes with a "Ya can't spell Calder without Cal" campaign.
"I don't plan on changing much at all this year," said Clutterbuck, 21. "With the year that went by last year, and the confidence I gained, I think it's going to allow me to maybe score some more while maintaining the same kind of physical play."
That's what the Wild is hoping. Last season, Clutterbuck became the fourth Wild rookie to score at least 10 goals in a season (11), but team officials believe he can take an even bigger step this season.
Playing in Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League from 2005-07, Clutterbuck played bodyguard to John Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft by the New York Islanders.
But Clutterbuck also registered back-to-back 35-goal seasons, scoring a career-high 89 points in 2006-07.
Coming down the wing, Clutterbuck has one of the best shots on the Wild. And since he's willing to drive the net and plant himself in front of it, the Wild is hoping the 2006 third-round pick can score goals the way he scored twice in last week's preseason game against Columbus.
"I was scouting amateur full time during Cal's draft year, so I've seen his scoring ability," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "He's a relentless, tenacious worker and physical presence, but the part of Cal's game we feel will emerge is his offense."
Clutterbuck, who said he feels more comfortable this training camp, knows it's important to balance out his game, especially because he can become a restricted free agent next summer.
"It'll be great if it happened this year because I've got a lot of things going on and there's an opportunity for me to maybe sign a one-way contract next summer," Clutterbuck said. "I just want to help this year. This year we might need a guy like me to come up with a big night."
But Clutterbuck's focus on offense doesn't mean he'll get away from what got him to the NHL. He has gained a reputation as a superpest, both because of his motor mouth and if opponents don't keep their heads up when he's on the ice, it won't be pretty.
And speaking of those heads, Clutterbuck adores getting into them, like Sunday when an angry Chicago defenseman threw Clutterbuck's stick at him after being checked.
"It makes it fun for me. It's kind of like I've got this following," Clutterbuck said. "I'm skating around and they're looking at me, worried about me. If they're thinking about me and I'm not even touching the puck, then that's one more thing they've got to think about.
"And in this league, if you're thinking about too many things at one time, you're going to make mistakes."
Because of his reputation, Clutterbuck knows he might become a marked man during his sophomore season.
"Am I worried? No," he said. "It's been that way in every single jump that I've made. ... In the AHL, you play certain teams so many times that come January, I was pretty much a marked guy already. Juniors same thing, so it's something I'm used to. I'll keep them out of my kitchen and I don't care if they hate me.
"Really, I just want my teammates to respect me and for the fans to appreciate that I'm always working hard. I want to be able to look myself in the mirror when I come off the ice and be able to tell myself, 'I gave it all I had tonight.'"