In today's salary-cap league, NHL teams need to pursue every available avenue to procure and retain good hockey players at reasonable cost. After going out and acquiring Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley, the Wild has had to bank on some of the longer-shots in its prospect group developing into dependable NHL players who can fill out a top-heavy roster cheaply and effectively.
The 2009 NHL Draft was the first for Chuck Fletcher as the Wild's second General Manager. From our vantage point today, Wild's team performed admirably in commencing the tough work of resetting a franchise whose fortunes had been dimmed early on by a combination of myopia and bad luck at the draft board.
The Minnesota Wild has taken an aggressive approach in free agency and trade at the NHL level, adding a franchise defenseman in Ryan Suter, and bolstering its forward corps with legitimate NHL stars in Zach Parise and Jason Pominville and a solid defensive presence in Matt Cooke. The confidence to make these moves was in part due to a group of prospects who seemed ready to come in and provide support during their cheaper entry-level contract years.
Minnesota's college hockey tradition has always been a strong part of its identity as a state, so it is no wonder that the Wild organization relies on the NCAA to bring some of its prospects along. Another major source of identity is Europe, where the Wild has looked to Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden many times in the past. Developmental strategies vary by coaching staffs, but the Minnesota Wild look to get players into situations that will best enhance their individual styles, giving each young man the opportunities he needs for personal and professional development.
The Wild's group of prospects come from a wide range of North American junior programs, and though the team can and does focus on plenty of Minnesota prospects, the development of the young draftees is taking place all over the hockey map. They organization currently has one player in the QMJHL and OHL, three in the WHL, and three playing at the Junior A level.