Photo: Providence College forward Nick Saracino fires home an empty net goal in his team’s 4-1 win over the University of Nebraska-Omaha at the 2015 Frozen Four. Saracino’s goal was his third point of the game (courtesy of Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire)
On paper, the 2015 Frozen Four semi-final matchup of Providence College and the University of Nebraska-Omaha looked like a potentially tight NCAA contest. And it was close on the scoreboard heading into the third period, with the Friars up 2-0 on the Mavericks. Read more»
Photo: Minnesota Wild first-round pick Alex Tuch led Boston College in points as a freshman. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
For any organization dedicated to the near-term goal of a Stanley Cup, having the bulk of the team’s prospects in colleges or European leagues is sound policy. The young men get their chances to grow as people, the team’s contract status is unaffected, and there is less rush to decide on a player’s future. The pressures of pro hockey in Europe are real, especially for younger players, but so is the NCAA Tournament atmosphere. Both make for excellent developmental opportunities.
Photo: Tyler Graovac leads the Minnesota Wild’s thin prospect depth at center. (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire)
If the Minnesota Wild should fail to qualify for the post-season, a lack of organizational depth is a key culprit. With Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Darcy Kuemper and Jason Zucker all graduated since the last Top 20, the depth chart looks as thin as it has been since spring 2010. Some questionable calls around the 2011 draft, plus the picks and assets traded away for Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson, hampered the team’s ability to acquire elite talent. There are some promising young players, but not many from this list will be suiting up in St. Paul next season. Restocking prospect depth the team lost out on in recent years is something the Wild needs to explore.
Photo: Jason Zucker won an NHL roster spot in training camp in part because of his speed and tenacity. (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon Sportswire)
After five years on the job general manager Chuck Fletcher has made his mark on the Minnesota Wild, swiftly rebuilding a franchise that had lost its way. He has assembled a promising young core of Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula, Darcy Kuemper, Matt Dumba, and Christian Folin. With a strong group of veterans brought in via trade and free agency to supplement the few holdovers from the prior administrative regime, this leaves very little room for true prospects at the moment.
Photo: The Wild used their first draft pick on a defenseman for the third straight year with the selection of Gustav Olofsson at 46th overall (courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Wild's big free agent signings last season may have dented the scouting budget. The Wild stayed pretty close to home this year, not drafting a player out of Europe for the first time in team history. The scouting staff did travel coast to coast in Canada with a studied focus on defense and size, but with an implicit directive of taking the long view with this draft class. Several of these players will be playing at the NCAA level next year and keeping tabs will mean a two hour drive rather than an eight hour flight. It also means that all of these players remain two years away from consideration at the professional level. All in all, it was quite an unspectacular draft that will take much patience to assess properly.