Once again it has been a tough year to be a prospect in the Minnesota Wild organization. Chris Porter, Jarret Stoll, David Jones, and Nate Prosser took some of the minutes in the NHL often reserved for younger players but the team lacked for better options. Although Christian Folin (eventually) graduated, Mike Reilly looked like a possible fit during his stint, and Kurtis Gabriel got a great opportunity to play a role in the playoffs, the team’s lack of NHL-ready depth was a major factor in a disappointing season.
The Wild’s NCAA prospects form the heart of the team’s developmental system, yet perhaps the team’s best assets are playing in professional leagues in Europe this season. College players have been central to Chuck Fletcher’s developmental approach – perhaps because he himself is a college man – with half of the Spring Top 20 coming out of NCAA programs.
The World Junior Championships have long passed, and while the NHL and AHL are in the middle of their seasons, European and Junior teams are now focused and gearing up for stretch runs and playoffs. It is crunch time for many of these young players as we head down the final stretch of the season. Let’s take a look at who has been building momentum, and who has been stumbling as we glide down the stretch here. Read more»
The Minnesota Wild‘s struggles this season cost head coach Mike Yeo his job, but a bigger problem than his decision-making threatens the Wild’s future success. The prospect pool lacks star quality. Though there has been plenty of trade babble, young stars and old come at premium prices. Rather than having a budding home-grown star waiting in the wings, the Wild’s recent run of below-average drafting has meant little flexibility for Chuck Fletcher, as well as an AHL team mired at the bottom of the standings.
For the first time since 2013, Team USA left the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC) with a medal, taking home the bronze medal with a dominating 8-3 rout of Sweden on the last day of tournament. Earlier in the tournament on Dec. 28th, the U.S. had lost to Sweden 1-0 in preliminary round play. Read more»