Once again it has been a tough year to be a prospect in the Minnesota Wild organization. Chris Porter, Jarret Stoll, David Jones, and Nate Prosser took some of the minutes in the NHL often reserved for younger players but the team lacked for better options. Although Christian Folin (eventually) graduated, Mike Reilly looked like a possible fit during his stint, and Kurtis Gabriel got a great opportunity to play a role in the playoffs, the team’s lack of NHL-ready depth was a major factor in a disappointing season.
The Wild’s NCAA prospects form the heart of the team’s developmental system, yet perhaps the team’s best assets are playing in professional leagues in Europe this season. College players have been central to Chuck Fletcher’s developmental approach – perhaps because he himself is a college man – with half of the Spring Top 20 coming out of NCAA programs.
The Minnesota Wild‘s struggles this season cost head coach Mike Yeo his job, but a bigger problem than his decision-making threatens the Wild’s future success. The prospect pool lacks star quality. Though there has been plenty of trade babble, young stars and old come at premium prices. Rather than having a budding home-grown star waiting in the wings, the Wild’s recent run of below-average drafting has meant little flexibility for Chuck Fletcher, as well as an AHL team mired at the bottom of the standings.
Two prospects taken in the middle rounds of the 2013 NHL Draft have a lot on the line when they matchup against each other this weekend in the SHL. Likewise, two 2016 draft-eligibles go one-on-one in the OHL, while one WHL defenseman tries to acclimate to a new environment after a recent trade. The QMJHL offers an interesting matchup when a pair of twins with NHL bloodlines takes on a giant defenseman. Finally, two steady freshmen forwards have been role players for their respective teams and are hoping to earn additional icetime in this week’s Prospect Faceoff. Read more»
Chuck Fletcher’s name comes up in the discussion for best general manager in the NHL. While his record is not without blemish, and he cannot really claim the title without a championship, the consensus is that he has done a good job of building a contending squad from one that seemed to be running in place. However, some of that success came at the cost of organizational depth. The AHL results have been poor, and misguided drafting takes some blame for the lack of skill in the developmental league.