Tyson Strachan said he's happy every day he's still with the main Minnesota Wild team.
You can see it in his eyes. You can see it in his smile.
"I'm not a guy that's going to rah-rah too much," Strachan said describing his personality. "I'm a pretty relaxed guy in [the locker room], and if anything it can be a little calming because I'm pretty calm and quiet back there."
Strachan, at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, isn't quite a gentle giant, and doesn't have the mean streak of some NHL bruisers—Strachan has gotten in 17 fights in 184 career NHL games—but his snarl is part of what's built his case for making the Wild's opening night roster.
"If there was probably a little more of an opening for anybody, it probably would have been for that type of player," Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the Wild reduced its roster from 43 to 27 players on Sunday.
Strachan knows his role. It's one that he said has helped him hang around in the NHL for so long.
"It's something that's kind of unspoken," he said. "This is nine years pro, and it's what I bring to the table, and it's the reason I've been able to play for nine years. You look around and there's a lot of talent and skill here, and you can't take away anything from anybody else, so you just need to bring what you bring, and that physical side is something that I have."
Strachan chose very carefully when deciding where to bring his physical side this summer as a free agent.
"Getting to play a lot of minutes last year but losing games was not fun," Strachan said. "So to come here to a team that's become a perennial playoff team that's a big reason why I wanted to be here, and I'm excited about that. I wanted to win games and be a part of that."
And Strachan said he thinks the Wild saw something in him that will help the team when hockey matters most.
"That big, physical body is something that's important," Strachan said. "They've looked at the past few years, and they know that when you get down into the playoffs races it's a physical, grueling match and that's something I can bring to the table, and hopefully contribute with."
The Wild play a quicker game. That isn't just in terms of skating speed, but Yeo stresses quick decision-making and processing the game at a faster pace.
It's why size alone won't be enough to put any one player over the top, but Yeo has taken notice of other areas of Strachan's performance.
"He's something different…identity wise for our group in terms of just a bigger body, a physical presence, and I've been pleased with how he's moved the puck and played the game," Yeo said.
When it comes to places on the depth chart to crack, defensively is no easy place to break the ranks.
"That's the NHL. Everywhere you go there's a lot of good hockey players," Strachan said. "It's the nature of the game, it's a competition, but it doesn't really change my game. Hopefully at the end of the day you can fit in and help out the team.”