Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others.
So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:
Justin Fontaine, RW, Age 26
Remaining contract (per capgeek):RFA in 2014
Games: 66 (Regular Season) 9 (Playoffs)
Goals: 13 (Regular Season) 1 (Playoffs)
Assists: 6 (Regular Season) 1 (Playoffs)
+/-: +6 (Regular Season) Even (Playoffs)
PIM: 26 (Regular Season) 2 (Playoffs)
ATOI: 12:15 (Regular Season) 11:06 (Playoffs)
What Did He Do?: Quick, name the top five goal scorers this season for the Wild. Does your list include multiple players who were healthy scratches in the playoffs? Because it should. It probably says more about the state of goalscorers for the Wild that Fontaine was fourth on the team in said category than it does about Fontaine himself. Indeed, the twenty-six year old rookie and former UMD Bulldog (Also Bonnyville Pontiac, if you want to give it the full Pierre McGuire) was largely a success in his rookie year, but not so much that he’ll be an automatic pick to return to the Wild. To wit, he matched Marian Gaborik’s rookie record for goals by a Wild first year player, and recorded his first NHL hat trick to boot, but the small winger appeared to wear down toward the end of the year, scoring just once in his final 22 appearances.
His poor form found him on the bench for four playoff games, including the first two games of the Colorado series as well as the decisive game seven of the same tilt, scratched in favor of Stephane Veilleux’s energy game. His only playoff goal came in game four against Chicago, sniping one near post on Corey Crawford from the face off dot, though he did also add a silky saucer assist for Erik Haula’s alley-oop goal in game 3 of the same series. If nothing else, it proved that Bulldogs and Gophers can work together.
What to Expect if You’re Expecting: As he was trending down towards the end of the season, Fontaine’s future is anything but secure. As a restricted free agent, the first hurdle is whether or not he will be re-signed. Assuming that happens, he will likely be nothing more than a bit part player if the Wild are to progress forward. If Fontaine can play nine minutes per night on the fourth line, provide speed and energy as well as 5-10 goals, the Wild will be in decent shape. If the Wild need to place him on the second power play unit next season, not so much.
Trade Prospects?: The Wild will certainly listen to any offers, but the question that clouds everything here is what NHL team sees Justin Fontaine as the solution to a problem?
Season Highlight: First NHL goals are fairly automatic in this category. However he does get docked due to the fact that his first NHL tally was scored against Dan Ellis:
That was nice, but first NHL hat tricks are better. However he gets docked again for two gifts and one empty netter. Still, though: