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.
The Minnesota Wild organization does things just a little differently than other teams. Rather than relying heavily on the CHL or the European leagues, the Wild has drafted many players bound for U.S. colleges in recent years. This affords the team additional flexibility with contracts and salary while also potentially yielding professional assets who may have had a longer developmental timeframe (Erik Haula is the big success story so far).
If based on the sheer size of the league and the types of contracts that can be handed out, as well as what is clearly a generally outstanding level of ice hockey, most will tell you that the KHL is the best hockey league in Europe. Still, you’ll find many who’ll say there’s no better level of hockey combining pure, proven international competitiveness and the ability to integrate and foster young, excellent talent than in Sweden’s SHL. Read more»
The 2014 NHL Draft has come and gone and as expected, a number of young talents who were both born and raised in Sweden, or are ranked as Swedish prospects because they’ve spent at least the last season in Sweden, have now become the property of an NHL team. All in all, it was a total of 31 players chosen, 28 of whom are Swedish-born. This ties the record number set at the 2011 NHL Draft. Read more»