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.
The WHL’s Eastern Conference was the – slightly – more competitive conference last season, and that should ring true again in 2015-16.
Last season in the East it took 73 points to make the playoffs, while in the West three teams qualified with less than 73 points. The East also featured the league-leading Brandon Wheat Kings, who finished the season with 114 points, two more than the Kelowna Rockets. The Wheat Kings may have lost a couple of pivotal 20-year-olds from last year’s team, as well as Ryan Pilon (NYI), who has taken an indefinite leave from hockey, but the team still boasts depth better than any organization, with a wealth of young, up-and-coming stars. The Wheat Kings, in fact, have landed atop the CHL 2015-16 preseason rankings. Read more»
A slight developmental gap appears to be a weakness in the Minnesota Wild‘s overall scheme. General manager Chuck Fletcher’s maneuvers between the 2010 Draft and the present assembled an enviable group of inexpensive young talent capable of augmenting a nice mix of somewhat more pricey veterans.
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.
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