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.
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.
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.
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.
Listing the Minnesota Wild‘s Top 20 Prospect Group is a more difficult exercise this fall, with a fairly clear-cut top four (including Erik Haula, who should graduate soon) followed by another 20 or so players with only a little separation. The Wild also added a lot of new blood to bolster the farm system, pushing some familiar names out of the Top 20.