July 23, 2015

Kyle Wanvig


Kyle Wanvig was a hulking winger out of Calgary, Alberta that the Minnesota Wild had high hopes for. He established a reputation in junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels as a hard hitting, big bodied winger with good scoring instincts. He scored 55 goals in his last year of junior while helping the Rebels win the Memorial Cup. He was named as the Memorial Cup playoffs' MVP. In a word, he was dominating.

The Boston Bruins initially drafted Wanvig in the third round, 89th overall, in the 1999 draft. Unable to sign him, Wanvig re-entered the draft two years later where the Wild selected him in the second round, 36th overall.

Interestingly, the Wild were very lucky to get him. Before the draft the Bruins had agreed to trade Wanvig's rights to Toronto for Jonas Hoglund. The Leafs and Wanvig hastily agreed to a contract, but a jammed fax machine prevented the contract from reaching NHL offices by the deadline by mere minutes. When the contract did arrive it was ruled as too late, and the trade was rescinded.

Wanvig turned pro for the 2001-02 season, but a bad ankle injury, first suffered in the summer, devastated his season. Never a great skater to begin with, in terms of speed or agility, the ankle injury certainly had an effect on his early development as a pro.

Wanvig would apprentice in the minor leagues for four seasons (winning a Calder Cup championship in 2003) before making the Wild roster full time in the 2005-06 season. However with only four goals and twelve points on his record, he was quickly turning from prospect to suspect.

Through it all, Wanvig kept a great perspective.

"Basically for two seasons, I was last cut and it came down to waivers, I could clear and some guys couldn't or were on one-way contracts," he explained. "It's been a little bit of a longer road than I was expecting but maybe that's what I needed. Maybe for my development I had to go through some growing pains and injuries to get to where I am now.

In the summer of 2006 he signed with the Atlanta Thrashers organization, but never played for the NHL team. A few months later he was traded to Tampa Bay but, aside from a total of eleven games, he was mostly farmed out for two seasons.

''It is difficult for a player to break in with our club when he hasn't had a training camp with us, and clearly that impacted Kyle following the trade last season. With the chance to get to know our organization and our system, as well as the opportunity to get himself in the best physical shape of his career this summer, we expect Kyle to come to camp looking to earn a spot on our roster," reasoned Tampa manager Jay Feaster.

Wanvig extended his hockey career with a four year tour of Europe, stopping in Russia, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia and Austria. He admitted the bigger ice and less aggressive nature of the European was a tough adjustment, but he relished his experiences overseas.

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