One week after coach Mike Yeo bellowed that Marco Scandella was turning into “one heck of an NHL defenseman” and one night after Scandella scored his second overtime winning goal in 12 days, the Wild rewarded its blossoming blue-liner with a five-year, $20 million extension.
In fact, General Manager Chuck Fletcher joked to right-hand man Brent Flahr, who negotiated the contract, after Scandella’s heroics Friday at Dallas to “get this thing done. It’s not going to get any cheaper.”
“How do you find guys like Marco Scandella?” Fletcher said. “Last year in the playoffs, the job he did, especially against [Marian] Hossa in the Chicago series … his reach, his length, his weight, his skating ability, he can play against anybody.”
Scandella, 24, stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 217 pounds. Last year, he developed into a horse of a defensive defenseman, one Fletcher called maybe the team’s best Saturday. This year, he has matured into an offensive threat.
He is tied for sixth among NHL defensemen with five goals, all of which are go-ahead goals. Three of those are game-winners, and in fact, five of his 12 career goals are game-winners for the fourth-highest percentage (41.7 percent) in the NHL since 2011.
“I’m super happy with the organization having the confidence in me,” Scandella said. “I just love all my teammates here. I really like it in Minnesota. It’s great to get it over with and now just stick to the process and keep building here.”
Fletcher said the deal came together quickly in three or four phone calls.
“Marco had a strong desire to stay here, and three of those are unrestricted years, so that’s certainly a big commitment on his part,” he said. “He likes the direction of the team, he likes his role on the team, and he likes his teammates, so it doesn’t happen without the player wholeheartedly buying into what we’re trying to accomplish.
“So we’re very happy. He’s just another key piece of the puzzle, a homegrown talent.”
Fletcher praised former GM Doug Risebrough and his staff of former assistant GM Tommy Thompson and current chief amateur scout Guy Lapointe and scout Paul Charles for drafting Scandella in the second round in 2008. He certainly paid his dues developing in the minors.
“He logged a lot of air miles going back and forth [to Houston],” Fletcher said. “Everybody has spoken about Jason Zucker and what he had to endure last year. Marco had three years of that, so he put a lot of time in.”
In recent months, the Wild has signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a six-year extension and forward Charlie Coyle to a five-year extension. Nino Niederreiter signed a three-year bridge deal over the summer. Jason Zucker and Darcy Kuemper each have a year left on their deals.
Mikael Granlund’s contract expires after this season. He is looking for a short-term bridge deal and Fletcher said there’s nothing to report.