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 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.
The Minnesota Wild is a franchise in contention for the Stanley Cup this season and for the foreseeable future, even though it lacks the star power of some other contenders. Its success over seasons past has meant few lottery picks, but the team has also been notably light in drafting from the CHL in the course of its history. After being burned by CHL players from Benoit Pouliot to Colton Gillies to James Sheppard to Tyler Cuma to Zack Phillips to Alexandre Belanger – drafted in 2013 and already out of the system – maybe that aversion is justifiable.
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.