Seasons With The Wild: 7
Following a 2 game stint with Detroit in 95-96, Wes Walz decided to take his hockey talents overseas. He bounced around in Europe for the next 5 seasons. But then in 2000, the NHL expanded by 2 teams, and Walz was given a chance to play in the NHL again with the Minnesota Wild.
Walz had a very quick turn around, making the transition back to the NHL very easy for him, scoring 18 goals in the Wild's inaugural season (The 18 goals was tied for the team lead with Marian Gaborik and Darby Hendrickson).
But, it wasn't being a goal scorer that made Walz a player the Wild kept around. It was his great defensive skills, as he was constantly being matched up with the opposing team's top line, and continually shut them down. Walz also was on the team's top penalty kill line, leading one of the league's top PK units during his run here.
During the Wild's improbable run to the conference finals in the 03 playoffs, Walz stepped up in a big way, scoring 7 goals and 6 assists, in addition to being on the ice with the likes of Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund.
After 6 full seasons with the Wild, Walz took a leave of absence in the 7th season after playing 11 games. After a month of being off the grid, the 37 year old Walz, returned to St. Paul and announced his retirement from hockey.
Walz has been one of the more popular players in team history (A recent HW post suggests #37 should be retired), despite the fact you rarely found him on the scoresheet. So that truly goes to show, how good he was defensively.
Because an entire fan base saw it, and still to this day, loves him for it.
Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #2!
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez
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