There were some people that considered Victor Rask as a legitimate buyout candidate for the Wild last offseason. The 28-year-old center was fresh off the least-productive campaign of career, and with a $4 million cap hit to boot, he seemed to be living on borrowed time.
Instead, general manager Bill Guerin made a commitment to Rask, as did coach Dean Evason.
They acknowledged that Rask got the short end of the stick as the resident healthy scratch last season, and they vowed to give him a chance to prove himself this season.
“We made a commitment as an organization in the summer when we sat down as a management team,” Evason said. “We had to give a guy like him a shot. We talked about it. He needs to get an opportunity to play.”
Now look at him.
It’s been a bounce back campaign for Rask to say the least and he continues to prove the doubters wrong with each passing game. He scored the game-winner for the Wild in Saturday’s overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks and now has 10 goals and 13 assists on the season.
That moment offered some redemption for Rask. He was criticized endlessly on social media following an overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights last week. Asked why he continues to play Rask in overtime, Evason responded, “He makes plays, right?”
It’s hard to argue that. It’s also hard to argue with how responsible Rask has been in the defensive zone this season
“He’s such an intelligent player,” Evason said. “He’s one of those guys that is one step ahead. He’s always thinking one step ahead. We do feel very good about his game period. We have from the start.”
As for Rask, he’s a man of very few words, and he hates talking about himself.
“I think I’ve been playing alright,” Rask said. “I think I can play better.”
What exactly can he do better?
“Just overall,” Rask said. “I have some nights off. You don’t play good every single night. I still have a little bit to work on.”
It helps that Rask is playing between a set of skilled wingers in the form of Kevin Fiala and Marcus Johansson. That trio has been very sharp since Evason decided to put them together.
That bodes well for the Wild heading into the playoffs. As does the fact that Rask continues to impress.
“He was given the opportunity,” Evason. “More importantly he’s taken it and run with it. He has been a highlight for everybody.”