has been among the names near the top of the Wild’s prospects chart since he was drafted in the second round (55th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. After a breakout season, Scandella’s name might now be at the very top of that list and he might not be a “prospect” for long.
Scandella’s 2009-10 campaign wasn’t exactly what you’d call a typical hockey season.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defenseman only played in 31 regular-season games during his third year with Val-D’Or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. However, the 20-year-old was stellar in those games, totaling 31 points (9-22=31) from the blue line and leading his team with a +10 ranking.
Scandella also showcased his leadership qualities for the second year as captain of the Foreurs and took pride in that role. The Montreal native went on to lead all Val-D’Or defensemen with six points (2-4=6) in six QMJHL playoff games, but he says the highlight of his season really came in December.
Scandella saw one of his childhood dreams realized when he played for Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship. He registered one goal and two assists with a +7 ranking in six games as Canada earned the silver medal. Despite losing to the U.S. in the final, Scandella still talks about the tournament with genuine enthusiasm and calls the entire tournament an “unbelievable experience.”
For the second straight year, Scandella finished his season with the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s affiliate in the American Hockey League. He totaled one assist in seven games as Houston closed out its season, but more importantly, he felt more adjusted to life as a professional hockey player and comfortable making the transition to a full-time role.
“When I went down there [this spring] I did really well and I’m really happy the way things went,” said Scandella. “Obviously, we didn’t make the playoffs, but I learned a lot the second time around and I’m ready to be a pro.”
Scandella says he can make the jump to professional hockey because his experiences the past few years, especially as captain for Val-D’Or, have helped him mature and understand what’s needed to play at the level of a pro. In his words, that means “playing simple and playing hard.”
Scandella never got on the ice during last week’s Development Camp due to a minor injury. Fans at the weekend scrimmages didn't get the chance to see his talents on display, which was tough for the big blueliner. Still, he was happy to be in attendance for the third time, and he got in plenty of off-ice workouts during the week.
“Getting to know all the guys, that’s the great thing, because I’m going to be playing with a lot of these guys in the future,” said Scandella. “Team bonding, which is a great thing. Just being around the locker room, it’s really fun.”
He’ll be back on the ice well before the start of the upcoming season, but for goals in his first full season as a pro, Scandella continues with the mindset to play simple and play hard, as well as stay focused all year.
Where he will focus his efforts could be in Houston, but it could very well be in Minnesota. As it stands now, the Wild has six defenseman locked up, but the club will carry at least one more. Scandella could be “the one.”
“I just want to work hard and see what can happen,” said Scandella. “Obviously, I want to play for the Wild. My dream is to play in the NHL, so I’m going to work as hard as I can to do that.”