(HF prospect rankings are in parentheses)
Travis Roche (4) 14 GP 8-5-13 29 PIM +5
Clearly a class player in the AHL, and it’s only a matter of time before he cracks the Wild’s NHL roster permanently. Leads the AHL in defender goals, and is amongst the leaders in both defender and rookie scoring. Posted 1g 2a in his last game vs. Manitoba November 14. Turning in the sort of dominant performance needed to graduate to the next level. Was called up for one game vs. Nashville, on Halloween.
Kyle Wanvig (5) 14 GP 2-4-6 31 PIM -1
Has seen an up-and-down start to the start of his pro career. Scored has first AHL goal just 2 minutes in the Houston’s season opener. Took another 12 games and 5 weeks until he lit the lamp again vs. Manitoba Nov. 12. Offensive game is coming along a bit slower than expected, but his size and grit is holding him in good stead in the AHL game.
Derek Gustafson (7) 5 GP 3-1-1 2.38 GAA .920%
Needs to get as much game action as possible, but that’s been hindered by the re-assignment of Jamie McLennan to Houston. The need to showcase McLennan to move his $1 million salary has seemed to usurp the priority on Gustafson’s development, and he’s only started 4 of the first 15 Aero games. When he’s played, he’s been very good, and his numbers are substantially better than McLennan’s. Recorded his first AHL shutout vs. Philadelphia November 4. The McLennan situation needs to be resolved so he can get the 50-60 game workload he needs to develop properly.
Dan Cavanagh (8) 10 GP 0-2-2 5 PIM +0
Left college a year early to turn pro, and it’s debatable whether that was a good idea at this point. Hasn’t scored a goal and has struggled with the higher tempo somewhat, and has been a healthy scratch on some nights. Assisted on Wanvig’s season-opening goal, and has only one other assist in the six weeks since.
Tony Virta (11) 14 GP 5-6-11 6 PIM –1
A top performer for the Aeros, but his performance hasn’t been what would be expected from a guy who torched the Finnish SM-Liiga the way he did last year. The guy who would be expected to be the first forward call-up for the Wild, but veteran minor-leaguer Richard Park got the call last week instead.
Steve Aronson (15) 5 GP 0-1-1 0 PIM +2
Injuries and benchings have prevented him from getting into the lineup on a regular basis, and he hasn’t been very effective when he has played. A prospect whose stock is falling pretty quickly.
Stephane Veilleux (16) 12 GP 2-2-4 20 PIM +2
Mid-round 2001 pick has been able to make a successful adaption to the pro game. Scored his first pro goal vs. Utah October 21, and has become a fixture in the Aero lineup after sitting for a couple early-season games.
Lawrence Nycholat (18) 12 GP 0-1-1 16 PIM -4
Offensive junior defender continues to struggle to produce at the pro level. Size and skating ability might be deficiencies too large to overcome.
Brett McLean (19) 14 GP 4-5-9 12 PIM –3
Decent minor-league scorer continues to put up OK numbers in minor-pro, but it’s difficult to envision that he’ll ever do much more than that.
Marc Cavosie (6) – RPI (ECAC) 6GP 5-7-12 8 PIM
RPI has only played six games to this point, but Cavosie has literally exploded from the gate with 12 points, a total which leads the ECAC. Started the season with an opening-night hat-trick vs. Boston University and has kept on from there. Already staking a claim as a contender for the Hobey Baker award. The Wild prospect whose star is rising quicker than any other at this point.
Chris Heid (12) – Spokane (WHL) 20 GP 1-10-11 17 PIM +7
A bout with mononucleosis caused Heid to miss most of Spokane’s training camp, and his strength has obviously been affected as a result. Still, he’s shown tremendous grit and character to continue on, and the illness hasn’t stopped him from being a key cog in a Spokane team which has flown out of the blocks to start the year (16-5-1). Heid’s partnership with Colorado draft Kurt Sauer is one of the reliable pairings in the WHL, and the two are on the ice in virtually every key situation for the Chiefs. Offensive numbers are really picking up after a slow start, and he’s already had three 2-point efforts in November. Scored his first goal of the season November 3 vs. Tri-City.
Eric Reitz (14) – Barrie (OHL) 19 GP 3-7-10 51 PIM +11
Reitz is off to a solid but unspectacular start as a core veteran defender for the Colts. Posted 1G 4A in a 4-game scoring streak from Oct. 13-Oct. 20. 51 PIM leads his team while his +11 rating is second. Defensive game is sound but he has more offensive potential than he’s shown, and he really needs to take that end of his game up a notch this season to guarantee himself a pro contract from the Wild. Seems to have grown an inch at some point in the last few months and is now listed at 6’1” 195 lbs., which is a good sign as his height had been a concern.
Eric Johannson (17) – Tri City (WHL) 19 GP 14-12-26 25 PIM +0
Has been consistently productive since the start of the season, and is Tri-Cities’ biggest offensive threat. Currently 7th in the WHL in goals, and had 5-game goalscoring streak from October 12-28. Currently on another 3-game goal streak (3G 2A). Has recorded points in 15 of 19 games so far this season. Like Reitz, another unsigned mid-round pick playing for a contract this season … while his numbers are strong, they aren’t significantly better than last season, and he could stand to pick his game up to another notch yet.
Zbynek Michalek (20) – Shawinigan (QMJHL) 22 GP 7-16-23 22 PIM +20
Signed as a free agent after impressing as a training camp walk-on, Michalek is looking like a real find. PP quarterback and defensive stalwart for a Shawinigan team which is dominating the QMJHL. 4th in the Q in defensive scoring, 2nd in overall +/-. Paired with veteran stay-at-home type Jonathan Lessard, and their attributes complement each other nicely. Currently on a 6-game point streak (2g 8a), and has been held off the scoresheet only once in the last 12 games dating back to October 13.
Derek Boogaard (NR) – Medicine Hat (WHL) 11-0-4-4 53 PIM +1
2001-02 began in nightmare fashion for Boogaard. After being suspended for the first 7 games of the season for a blindside hit on Portland goaltender Lanny Ramage at the conclusion of last years Portland-PG playoff series, he returned to the Prince George lineup for only 2 games before he was suspended for another 4 games for giving the finger to a referee on October 14. Fed up with his antics, Prince George dealt him to Medicine Hat on October 26 for a 4th round pick in the 2002 WHL Bantam Draft. The move may end up being a blessing in disguise, though, for Boogaard, as he’s seen his icetime and responsibilities go up considerably on a very poor Medicine Hat team.
Jake Riddle (NR) – Seattle (WHL) 22 GP 8-3-11 42 PIM –12
Riddle’s Seattle team has been ghastly, especially defensively, this season, and isn’t a terribly great development situation for a young player. Like the rest of his squad, Riddle got off to a terrible start this season, posting only 6 points in his first 17 games. However, he has improved markedly in November, posting 4g 1a in his last 5 games, including a 2g 1a performance vs. Kelowna November 9. That might not sound too impressive, but the T-Birds have only scored 9 goals in that 5-game stretch, so Riddle has been in on over 50% of their offense of late.
Mikko Koivu (1) – TPS Turku (Finland) 21 GP 0-1-1 12 PIM -2
Koivu’s numbers are obviously disappointing, but by all reports he’s played somewhat better than it would appear just from stat-gazing, and has been unfortunate not to garner at least a few more points. Getting limited minutes as he acclimates to the pace of the SM-Liiga, which is usually considered to be the second-best league in the world right now, especially in terms of speed. A potential turnaround point in his season will be the 2002 WJCs in late December, where he’ll be expected to be a go-to guy for a very good Finnish squad expected to contend for the championship.
Rickard Wallin (9) – Färjestads (Sweden) 21 GP 4-14-18 24 PIM +5
Producing at rate very similar to what he put up last season – effective but not dominant. Really needs to shoot the puck more – 30 shots in 21 games isn’t nearly enough, and is the biggest reason behind his rather measly 4-goal total. Likely a player who would be well-served to spend a year or two in the more physical AHL adapting to the North American game.
Getting Russian stats mid-season is a feat tantamount to locating Jimmy Hoffa, so unfortunately I’m unable to add stats for Askhat Rakhmatullin and Oleg Orekhovsky. If I can locate these before the next update, I’ll add those as well. Prospect rankings will be updated in December to reflect progress (or lack of it) made since the start of the season, as well as prospects who have graduated.