Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/10/13
In an attempt to improve the Wild’s depth up the middle and perhaps sign an eventual bargain the Wild will bring veteran center David Steckel into training camp on a professional tryout agreement. Steckel who has played 419 games for four teams over eight NHL seasons was one of the out-of-work victims of the shrinking salary cap this summer. “It was a difficult summer” said Steckel 31 a faceoff specialist who played 21 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season. “I’d like to still think that I can play in the NHL. I’m thankful Minnesota gave me an opportunity so in the end hopefully I can make an impression and stick with the team.” Steckel who led the NHL in 2010-11 by winning 62.3 percent of his faceoffs for Washington and New Jersey and has the second-best career faceoff winning percentage among active NHLers (.583 since 2005-06) has a strong identity as a player coach Mike Yeo said. Knowing that he is not a scorer (79 career points) Steckel is a big body at 6-6 who is responsible defensively and a solid penalty killer. The Wild is lacking a clear-cut No. 2 center after allowing Matt Cullen to depart via free agency for Nashville and third-line center Kyle Brodziak who scored 22 goals two seasons ago is coming off a down year (eight goals minus-18). Yeo said Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund both 21 rookie Erik Haula and even Brodziak will get second-line center looks throughout camp. “The center position is a position where we do have a couple question marks and bringing in a guy with Steckel’s experience and his pedigree — he could potentially answer one of those questions” Yeo said. “We’re going to try a lot of different combinations and a lot of people at different positions and he’s now in that mix.” The pro tryout doesn’t bind Steckel to the Wild. He’ll remain an unrestricted free agent throughout camp meaning he could sign with any team at any time. If he doesn’t make the team General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Steckel might play in Des Moines of the AHL to “wait for an opportunity with us or somebody else.”
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