Photo: Boston College freshman Adam Gilmour has managed to stand out despite a limited fourth-line role, scoring 19 points through 37 games in 2013-14 (courtesy of Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
In today's salary-cap league, NHL teams need to pursue every available avenue to procure and retain good hockey players at reasonable cost. After going out and acquiring Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley, the Wild has had to bank on some of the longer-shots in its prospect group developing into dependable NHL players who can fill out a top-heavy roster cheaply and effectively.
Photo: Defenseman Matt Dumba takes over the top spot in this edition of the Minnesota Wild Top 20. Dumba opened the 2013-14 season in the NHL, but he is currently skating with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI)
Jonas Brodin, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter have graduated from prospect status and now appear to be legitimate NHL players, though all still at various early stages of their careers.
Photo: First-year pro Erik Haula, who has four points in five AHL games this season, represents the depth of talent that the Wild have at the pro level (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
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.
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.