Monday morning brought unfortunate news to the Minnesota Wild faithful: the Edmonton Oilers claimed South St. Paul’s Alex Stalock off waivers. The Wild had placed the 33-year-old goaltender on waivers Sunday. His return from an upper-body injury was imminent, and they were trying to slip him either to Iowa or onto their taxi squad. Alas, the Edmonton Oilers deemed his play last year worthy of taking a chance on him.
Had he not been injured, Stalock would have opened the year as the backup goaltender for the fourth straight season. But with the play of both Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen in goal, the Wild could not afford to make a change at this time. Thus, Stalock was placed on waivers.
While Stalock’s deficiencies were well documented, he provided an element of stability to the Wild as a backup and eventually a starter. He made 77 starts for the Wild, with 36 of them coming last season as he took over for Devan Dubnyk. Stalock was their goaltender in their four-game series against the Vancouver Canucks last August, where he was not to blame for the team’s woes despite his subpar stats.
As a South St. Paul grad and a University of Minnesota-Duluth alum, Stalock was immediately a fan-favorite when he signed with the Wild in 2016. He established himself as a steady presence in the net, and he had the tenacity to make some fun plays with the puck when given the opportunity.
He was relatable, living and dying with the local teams. It also cannot be stated enough that Stalock was a beloved figure in the Wild locker room — one of the reasons he was kept around for as long as he was.
It was a dream scenario for Stalock to come home and play for the Wild, but the dream ended Monday morning. Edmonton needed his services. Not an ideal conclusion, but he will probably get more playing time there.
His name might not show up in the record books, but if you could quantify fun, no one had more of it in the Wild goal than Alex Stalock. He’s certainly in contention for the most popular goalie in team history, which is about the best thing you can say about him as he makes his exit.