Photo: Mario Lucia is a dominant winger at the Jr-A level. He will be joining Notre Dame for the 2012-13 season. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
The Minnesota Wild are close to shaking their reputation as a desert of prospect development. The last drafts have produced a number of prospects of interest, and an assortment of trades and free agent signings have generated respectable depth. The Aeros' winning the Western Conference last season demonstrates not only a positive institutional strategy for procurement and development, but also a return to a patient policy with its players shared by winning franchises.
Photo: After a strong training camp, Zack Phillips returns to the QMJHL for the 2011-12 season where he and the rest of the Saint John Seadogs will try to win another Memorial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Although the team fell short of its goal, losing in game six of the Calder Cup finals to the Binghamton Senators, the Aeros overachieved past most expectations in 2010-11. Personnel changes in the AHL are inevitable, however, and success often means changes as thorough-going as any rebuilding franchise experiences. Case in point: Mike Yeo's work in Houston won him the opportunity to take over the Wild. However, the core players have the playoff experience now, and will look to build on their improbable run to within two wins of the league's highest prize.
Photo: Drafted 28th overall, Zack Phillips came to Minnesota as part of the return in the Brent Burns trade. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Although Mikael Granlund remains the Wild's number one prospect, the depth for the Minnesota Wild continues to improve under Chuck Fletcher's watch. With the draft taking place on home turf, the Wild made a wise but somewhat surprising move to add another blue-chip defense prospect in Jonas Brodin. They then traded pending free agent Brent Burns for two prospects, Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips, the latter selected with San Jose's first round pick. The addition of these players can only improve the long-term outlook of the franchise.
1. (1) Mikael Granlund, C, 8.0B
Drafted 1st Round, 9th overall, 2010
The Wild added considerable depth again this year, trading for a second pick in the first round as well as former first-rounder Charlie Coyle. The team also turned to United States high schools for three of its picks. The Wild displayed a good degree of confidence again at this draft, trading up for a hometown fan.
Jonas Brodin, D – Färjestad (SEL)
1st round, 10th overall
Height: 6'1, Weight: 170 lbs
The Wild used its first round pick on Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin. For the most part, draft watchers tend to favor eye-popping point totals first, and NHL frames second, of which Brodin brings neither. Brodin does however appear to be a master at the art of mistake-free, positionally astute defense.
Photo: One of the top ranked European players for the 2011 draft, Joel Armia's natural goal-scoring ability would be a nice fit for a Minnesota Wild team that has struggled offensively. (Photo courtesy of Holly GunningHF)
Top 10 prospects
1. Mikael Granlund, C
2. Marco Scandella, D
3. Matt Hackett, G
4. Jason Zucker, LW
5. Tyler Cuma, D
6. Erik Haula, LW
7. Colton Gillies, LW
8. Cody Almond, C
9. Brett Bulmer, RW
10. Johan Larsson, LW