Typically, when a new player is asked to describe his game, he’ll rattle off a few of the hockey aspects they’ve excelled at over the years. Maybe he’ll mention his ability to finish, or liking to play physical or willingness to find an open teammate.
When Jarod Palmer
, the Wild’s latest college free agent signing, was asked that same question. He didn’t give his own answer. He gave the answer of his Miami University head coach, Enrico Blasi. He knew Blasi’s answer, because he took it upon himself to ask him at the beginning of his senior season.
“I asked him to define what I did well,” said the 24-year-old Fridley native. “He told me exactly what I wanted to hear. He said I was great in my own zone as a forward. I can play smart defensively. I’m a great forechecker. I’m a tenacious forechecker. I can steal the puck, strip the puck and I’m also great at taking it to the net. That’s what he told me, and it was real encouraging to hear that, and have someone define my game like that so I knew what to focus on and what to excel at.”
Palmer becomes the third college free agent to ink a deal with the Wild in just over a month, joining Casey Wellman from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Nate Prosser
from Colorado College.
Unlike those two, Palmer had some experience with the Wild organization prior to signing. Last summer, he was invited to participate in the team’s Prospect Camp. There, he had the chance to show his game to Wild management and the numerous scouts in attendance.Check out his ridiculous shootout goal at the camp here.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “I got to measure myself against competition and see where I stood.”
When it comes to experience, Palmer has had a lot despite never having played a professional game. He spent two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program, but unlike most who play there, he went undrafted and played two more years of junior hockey in the United States Hockey League.
It wasn’t until he got to Miami that his game really started to blossom according to Wild amateur scout Brian Hunter, who has been watching Palmer for nearly 10 years.
“He basically came onto the scene two years ago,” explained Hunter. “He’s always been a good player, and that hasn’t been a question. The one thing he’s always had is extremely good puck skills. His game kind of came together as he learned how to play a little more defensive, and paced himself a little bit better with his play.
He can play tough, but the coaches wanted him to play more of a skill game and he can do that.”
That was evident this past season when he paced the RedHawks in goals (18), points (45) and plus/minus (+27) and led them to a second straight Frozen Four appearance.
Whether or not he plays in Minnesota or Houston next year, Palmer will be at Training Camp in September, and he’ll be spending as much time watching and learning as he will skating and shooting.
“I expect to learn a lot,” he said of his expectations for the season ahead. “Keep my ears open and my eyes open and pick up on as many things that I see people do that work and that bring success. That’s what I’m going to try to mimic.”
Hunter doesn’t think that will be hard for Palmer to accomplish.
“His [college] coaches will say this too, but he’s the type of kid that if you give him some direction and tell him what he needs to do, he’ll go out and do it. He’s a very happy-go-lucky kid. He’s very mature, very positive.”
That positivity was evident over the weekend when Palmer discussed the moment he signed with his hometown NHL team.
“When I was looking at that contract, I felt like I was in a dream world,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe that I have this opportunity to get a chance to play in my hometown like this, and even just experience everything the Wild organization does. I’m more than thrilled to be a part of it.”