Photo: Zack Mitchell, signed as a free agent by the Wild in March, was a key player in all situations for Guelph as the Storm won the OHL title and made it to the Memorial Cup final (courtesy of CHL Images)
Playoff season is a marathon of several months, and for hockey fans it can be the best and the worst time of the year.
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: Rookie pro Erik Haula already has 10 NHL games under his belt in 2013-14. He is currently with the AHL’s Iowa Wild, where he leads the team with 16 points in 22 games this season (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
As the Minnesota Wild goes through periods of unforeseeable injury and head-smacking offensive inability, several burgeoning talents from the Iowa squad have stepped up into NHL roles.
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: Jonas Brodin led all NHL rookies with over 23 minutes of ice time per game during the abbreviated 2012-13 season (courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Given a full NHL season in 2012-13, the Wild's Top 20 would not look quite as deep. Jonas Brodin and Nino Niederreiter would have graduated barring injury, and Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund would have been close as well.