Self-described bubble player Justin Falk: “I need a season here”

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It’s been a tough road to the NHL for Justin Falk. The 24-year-old was drafted 110th overall in 2007 and has spent most of his pro career in the AHL with the Houston Aeros.

In 2011-12, things started looking up for the big defenseman. He played 47 games for the Minnesota Wild, scoring once and adding eight assists while killing penalties and providing a physical presence on the blue line.

In July, Falk was rewarded with a one-year, $825,000 contract extension. It was a one-way deal, the first he’s received from the organization.

Now, just as he was emerging as an NHL regular, he finds himself in the midst of a lockout that’s threatening the entire 2012-13 season.

And he’s worried about it.

“I need a season here,” he told the StarTribune. “It’s a tough situation. We stand together as a union, but there’s such a variety of players — guys on the bubble with one-year contracts that need games to play in this league.

“I want this to be a start of a career in the National Hockey League. It’s hard not to worry this could do a lot of damage in my career. I need to keep progressing because there’s always someone knocking on the door.”

Falk isn’t fabulously wealthy. He’s maybe earned $1 million as a pro, not including taxes and agent fees.

All of which is to ask, if the split between the owners and players is going to get to 50/50 eventually, how much do you think he cares if it gets there next season (and he loses a few bucks to escrow) or if it takes a few years?

Does he care enough to jeopardize his career?

Related: Players need to ask themselves: Is it worth it?