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Pateryn brings shutdown defensive element to Minnesota

Former Dallas Star was among the best defensive-defensemen in the League last season

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Greg Pateryn will be the first one to tell you his game isn't what most hockey observers would classify as sexy. 

But what he brings on a nightly basis is incredibly valuable, especially to a team like Minnesota, which signed the 28-year-old defenseman to a three-year contract on Sunday.

With offensive-minded Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba already projected to man the right side of the back end this season, Minnesota was in search of a reliable, defensive-minded blue liner that can eat minutes, kill penalties and do all of the little things that don't show up in the box score.

Pateryn does all of those things in spades.

"I think just some stability and consistency every night," Pateryn said of what he brings to the table. "Not being a flashy player but being able to defend well, make good passes, keep things simple and get guys the puck and get guys moving up the ice and I think that's a strong suit of mine, breaking the puck out and also being able to defend against the top players out there, so being able to create space for some of these other guys and just open up the ice for the skilled players."

Advanced metrics bear that out.

Among all defensemen in the NHL last season, Pateryn was graded No. 1 by for Shot Rates Against Wins Above Replacement (WAR RA), a measurement that ranks him among the best in the game among players who played at least 1,000 minutes at 5-on-5. 

Pateryn was one of just three defensemen to measure at least a full win above replacement, joining Boston's Charlie McAvoy and Washington's Dmitry Orlov.

Among all players league-wide, Pateryn ranked fourth in Defensive WAR, just behind new teammate Mikko Koivu.

"We targeted him; he was really the first guy that we went after and we were very happy to get him," said Wild General Manager Paul Fenton. "He's not a very physical guy, he's a big guy. He's a big mobile guy. He's a very good defender, he defends with his stick. When he does make contact with people, he eliminates them and that's the biggest thing, it adds some size back to our defense."

Tweet from @mnwild: �� Peep some highlights from new #mnwild defenseman Greg Pateryn

Pateryn got a long-awaited opportunity to play on a nightly basis last season in Dallas, where he skated in a career best 73 games, scoring one goal and 13 points while posting a plus-6 rating.

Drafted by Toronto in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Pateryn broke in with Montreal in 2012-13 and played 2 1/2 more seasons for the Canadiens before being dealt to Dallas midway through the 2016-17 campaign.

He played in 38 games in his last full season north of the border and in 36 games during his split season two years ago.

"I think it was huge," Pateryn said of the opportunity to be in the lineup every night. "It gave me the confidence I needed and it gave me the chance to prove myself and show not only the league but my teammates and the other players around the league what I can do and it was a good role for me and I feel like I really thrived in it."

Minnesota is banking on Pateryn continuing his development with the Wild. Still just 28 years old, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder should be entering his prime years.

"I think at the end of the day it felt like the right fit," Pateryn said. "Kind of where they saw me and what they wanted me to do in my role, I think it was right in line with what I wanted to be on a team. I feel like they felt like I could help out a lot on the back end and I felt the same way and it was just one of those fits that you felt right. When you know you know, and that's how it felt. That's what made everything exciting and felt like a good fit for everyone."


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