Gophers captain Brock Faber grew up a Wild fan. Now he’s a top prospect for the organization.
He was a key piece in deal with the Los Angeles Kings that also netted the Wild the No. 19 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft in exchange for Kevin Fiala’s rights.
The photo had already been sent to Brock Faber countless times over the past few months. In the snapshot taken during an April 29 game between the Wild and the Colorado Avalanche, Faber is captured along the glass rocking a Gophers sweatshirt, sporting his signature frames and cheering his face off after a goal from Kirill Kaprizov.
It actually looks as if Faber is trying to high-five Kaprizov through the glass. Asked about the perfectly timed moment, Faber joked, “He left me hanging.”
The picture once again started to circulate among Faber’s inner circle on Wednesday afternoon after news broke that the Maple Grove native had been traded to the Wild. He was a key piece in a blockbuster move with the Los Angeles Kings that also netted the Wild the No. 19 pick in next week’s 2022 NHL Draft in exchange for Kevin Fiala’s negotiating rights.
“My roommates all had that picture of me behind Kirill when he scored,” said Faber, a rising junior defenseman for the Gophers men’s hockey team. “They were all sending it in the group chat. It was pretty special. They were all really pumped up.”
This is a dream come true for Faber. He grew up a huge Wild fan and maintained his affinity for his hometown team despite being drafted by the Kings in 2020.
“Ever since I started playing hockey, obviously growing up in Minnesota, it’s always been the Gophers and the Wild,” Faber said. “Those are the teams I wanted to play for someday. So playing for the Gophers right now, and possibly having the opportunity to play for the Wild in the future, it gives me chills thinking about it.”
Talking to reporters on Thursday afternoon in the lobby of Athletes Village on the University of Minnesota campus, Faber tried his best to characterize the past 24 hours.
“Obviously it was a pretty crazy day,” he said. “I was doing homework at the time I got the call. I was trying to focus. Then there wasn’t much more school done.”
Because he was working on an essay at the time, Faber silenced his phone so that he wouldn’t be distracted. He missed a call from Kings general manager Rob Blake and actually didn’t find out about the trade until it already was all over Twitter.
“It was a lot of text messages,” Faber said. “Everyone was asking if it was real and at that point I didn’t even know if it was real. I got the call from (Wild general manager Bill Guerin) and that kind of solidified it. Then it was like, ‘Wow. I might get to play for the Wild some day.’ ”
The rest of the day was a blur for Faber. He chatted with some other people in the Wild organization. He called family and friends to discuss the trade. He tried to open up his laptop to finish his essay before realizing that was a lost cause.
“It was good getting in bed and putting the phone down,” he said. “Then waking up this morning, it kind of sunk in a little bit more. It’s pretty special.”
Though he already has decided to return to college in the fall, it seems likely that Faber will turn pro in the spring. Asked about Faber on Wednesday, Guerin heaped praise, saying he could hold his own at the next level right now.
“He’s a really good young defenseman that we think highly of,” Guerin said. “He’s excited about at some point in time being able to play for his hometown team.”
In advance of making the trade on Wednesday, Guerin spoke with various members of the front office, including Wild director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett. The general consensus was that Faber has a very bright future in the NHL.
“There is a strong feel across the board with Brock,” Brackett said. “The first thing that really stands out is obviously his mobility. He’s also a leader out there. He’s got great compete. He manages the puck really well. I think the key driver of the game is obviously his feet.”
While his ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup as a member of the Wild, something he made very clear on Thursday, Faber made it even clearer that he has high hopes for the Gophers next season. He was named a captain on Wednesday, a few hours before he learned he had been traded to his his hometown NHL team
“It was hard to focus on and be thankful for yesterday because of all the news,” Faber said. “There are a lot of names that came before me that had the privilege of wearing a letter on their jersey for the Gophers. That’s something I don’t take lightly. Obviously I love playing here, and I’d love to play for the Wild some day as well.”
As soon he wrapped up his chat with reporters on Thursday, Faber headed straight home. He had an essay to finish.
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