EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Kyle Brodziak, who has played parts of 10 seasons but is only in his eighth full season, played his 600th NHL game Friday night against the franchise where it all started for him.
Brodziak, 30, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round in 2003. In his sixth season since becoming Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher's first player trade in 2009, Brodziak already ranks ninth in Wild history with 425 games.
If you discount Stephane Veilleux, who was reacquired in 2012 and has played one more game for the Wild than Brodziak (426), only Mikko Koivu and goalie Niklas Backstrom have been with the Wild longer.
"It's definitely something I'm proud of," Brodziak said. "Looking back, as a kid growing up, you just want to play in the NHL and then you get there, you want to stay. I've been very fortunate to be able to be in the league a long time and it's something I try not to take for granted.
"It's my sixth year here. I'm definitely thankful for the opportunity they gave me and they're still giving me. It's crazy, at the time you're traded, you don't know what to expect, but it worked out really well."
Brodziak is in the final year of his contract. He knows he could be trade bait by the March 2 deadline, although with the Wild fighting for a playoff spot, Fletcher might not want to trade a penalty killer and center (although Brodziak has been mostly playing wing though the past few weeks).
"Every day you think about it," Brodziak said. "I don't know really what's going to happen. I've had a long time to think about it. Whatever happens, I just have to be ready for it. If nothing happens, then I'll be ready to stay here and help out as much as I can."
Brodziak said there have been no contract talks with Fletcher and he has talked to the GM on and off this year about "what might happen."
Brodziak, who has seven goals and 14 points in 52 games, wishes he contributed more offensively, but he is happy with his defensive game this season and proud that he's been part of a penalty kill that has improved from fourth-worst last year to third-best this year.
In six years with the Wild, he has missed three games because of injury or illness.
"I've been fortunate," he said. "There are a lot of times you see injuries where guys can't do anything about it. I've just been fortunate and lucky to this point, and I take care of myself, which is a factor."
Wild defenseman Ryan Suter took a lot of barbs from teammates during Friday's game when the Oilers kept playing a Visa commercial he filmed at the All-Star Game with Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In the commercial, Nugent-Hopkins beats Suter at a bunch of skills challenges.
"I skated by Nugent- Hopkins during the game and said, 'They told me they weren't going to embarrass me,' " Suter said, laughing. "It was what it was. Bad acting."
For the record, Suter said, "I officially won, but they redid it because it's [Visa] Canada."
Folin is back
Rookie defenseman Christian Folin, sent to Iowa to play games after being scratched six straight by the Wild, was recalled Friday to play for injured Jared Spurgeon. Folin was a minus-8 in four Iowa games and admitted rustiness after largely not playing for three weeks.
"The first game wasn't great, but I think I kept building my game up," said Folin, who assisted on the first goal in Friday's 4-0 victory over the Oilers.
Spurgeon is day-to-day because of what is believed to be concussion-like symptoms. Matt Dumba was elevated to the second pair with Marco Scandella.
Stu Bickel was reassigned to Iowa.
The NHL has added "enhanced statistics" to its website that acknowledges team and player analytical stats like Corsi and Fenwick (which demonstrate possession), first and second assists, zone start percentages and others.
"We try to use as many stats as we can," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "But sometimes too much can get in the way of other things too. I think like anything else, it's a useful tool. And as a coach you have to decide what's important, what's relevant and what isn't."
Yeo said the Wild doesn't use most enhanced stats in day-to-day or in-game decisions, but they are used in long-term evaluations of players.