Photo: Defenseman Matt Dumba, who is poised to crack Minnesota’s opening night roster, leads the players ranked 41-50 in HF’s Top 50 prospects ranking (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
The Fall edition of the Hockey's Future ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects begins with the prospects ranked 41-50. The lockout-shortened 2012-13 season left a talented pool of eligible prospects, evident already in the bottom group of players.
Photo: The Wild have many top prospects competing for roster spots in the NHL this season, even 19-year-old defenseman Matt Dumba is still in the mix (courtesy of Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Over the last few draft classes, Chuck Fletcher and company have shown Wild fans evidence of a new developmental approach. With a good cluster of young guys already in place, there has been a shift toward drafting players who will take an extra year or two to arrive as viable prospects.
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.
Photo: The Wild used their first draft pick on a defenseman for the third straight year with the selection of Gustav Olofsson at 46th overall (courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Wild's big free agent signings last season may have dented the scouting budget. The Wild stayed pretty close to home this year, not drafting a player out of Europe for the first time in team history. The scouting staff did travel coast to coast in Canada with a studied focus on defense and size, but with an implicit directive of taking the long view with this draft class. Several of these players will be playing at the NCAA level next year and keeping tabs will mean a two hour drive rather than an eight hour flight. It also means that all of these players remain two years away from consideration at the professional level. All in all, it was quite an unspectacular draft that will take much patience to assess properly.
Photo: Zack Phillips, the second of Minnesota’s two first round picks in 2011, experienced a rocky transition to the AHL with the Houston Aeros in 2012-13 (courtesy of Juan DeLeon/Icon SMI)
The Minnesota Wild brain trust heads to the draft without a first round pick for the first time in franchise history. High expectations buoyed by the acquisition of bona fide stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in July 2012 led management to make a somewhat hasty trade as the shortened NHL season waned, sending Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, this year's first round pick, and next year's second round pick away for Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville. While Pominville is certainly a good player who adds a needed dimension to the offense-starved Wild, the price may have been too high.