This has not been a great year of the prospect for the Minnesota Wild. The team arrived at a point in its process where it became ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. This has been somewhat to the detriment of its prospect pool, although any fan will take the tradeoff. Nonetheless, Hockey’s Future makes an annual tradition of handing out some imaginary hardware to players who stood out during the course of their seasons.
In this week’s playoff edition of Prospect Faceoff, all three CHL leagues have series that are facing pivotal fifth games. Meanwhile, with the NCAA on hiatus, there’s a strong NAHL matchup featuring two college recruits worth keeping an eye on. Also, the SHL’s juggernaut squad in Skelleftea may have an opportunity this weekend to advance to the finals with one more win, but a top prospect for a rival will have something to say about that. Read more»
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.
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.