2010 was a heartbreaking year for the San Jose Sharks. They had a squad built for the playoffs, and after being the top team in the Western Conference for a second season in a row, they faltered in the Conference finals, failing to win a single game against the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks.
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.
The Fall edition of the Hockey's Future ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects begins with the prospects ranked 41-50. The lockout-shortened 2012-13 season left a talented pool of eligible prospects, evident already in the bottom group of players.
The Minnesota Wild brain trust heads to the draft without a first round pick for the first time in franchise history. High expectations buoyed by the acquisition of bona fide stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in July 2012 led management to make a somewhat hasty trade as the shortened NHL season waned, sending Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, this year's first round pick, and next year's second round pick away for Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville. While Pominville is certainly a good player who adds a needed dimension to the offense-starved Wild, the price may have been too high.