Sunday, July 15, 2012

 

It's always fun this time of year to analyze teams' prospects and their NHL-readiness, and to predict who will make the team, who will be in line for call-ups, and who will return to junior or the minors. Today I take a look at a team with no shortage of possibilities.

 

One of the more interesting NHL teams to watch the fall, in terms of prospects, will be the Minnesota Wild. With the free-agent signings of Zach Parise, Torrey Mitchell, Jake Dowell, and Zenon Konopka, there are seemingly fewer opening on the roster than originally thought for the incoming forward crop. With Brett Bulmer, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker all knocking at the door, as well as older prospects such as Nick Palmieri, Cody Almond and Justin Fontaine reaching the make-or-break point, competition in the State of Hockey should be fierce.

 

Granlund has a spot to lose, as the Wild will be looking for him to not only step in but to produce immediately. Coyle is the next most heralded prospect in the system, and he has all the tools, but time in the AHL would be beneficial to him in my opinion. He will play in Minnesota at some point this season, at the very least. Bulmer and Zucker each got a taste of the NHL last year, and neither looked out of place.  Both, however, could also use time in the minors to further their adjustment to the professional game. Larsson, at 19, is the wild card of this group.  He plays a mature, well-rounded game and could play in the bottom six to start.

 

Of the older prospects, Palmieri is the most likely to get a chance because he was part of the package coming from New Jersey for Marek Zidlicky. He has played in 87 NHL games, scoring just 13 goals, but he did score 21 times in his rookie pro season in the AHL. Almond is a versatile forward who will probably ride th Houston-Minneapolis shuttle a few times this season. Fontaine is creative offensively, but there ar questions about whether his game will effectively translate to the next level. He is a long shot and will need an outstanding training camp.

 

The future certainly looks bright in Minnesota, with so many good forward prospects, and many other teams would love to have the problem the Wild have trying to find playing time for all of them. The team is set in goal as well, with Matt Hackett looking like a future starter and 6'4 Darcy Kuemper a solid prospect coming up.

 

As always, feel free to leave comments and feedback. I can be found on Twitter @RichDillon17 if you're interested. Thanks for visiting and reading!


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sentium said:

Dakkster
... Larsson will stay in the bottom six when he makes it. First of all he's too good defensively and not nearly as good offensively as most on DobberHockey seem to wish, which just cements his spot as a bottom sixer. Secondly, He's not going to overtake Koivu and Granlund for the top two center spots. Ever.
July 17, 2012
Votes: +0

pull the goalie said:

pull the goalie
... That depth chart is almost right on, but Cullen is missing. He'll be on the 3rd line and Powe on the 4th. Dowell might be the odd man out until Bouchard is inevitably injured again, then somebody moves up or Coyle gets a shot.
July 17, 2012
Votes: +0

Sheepish said:

Sheepdogged
... Good teams that make deep runs in the AHL playoffs have better chances of making runs in the NHL playoffs down the road. I can't wait for the Aeros to crush this season and for the Wild do do the same in a couple years. Finally, good times ahead. Mad props to Chuck Fletcher and crew.
July 16, 2012
Votes: +0

Brian Harling said:

kbooks
... I agree competition will be tough. I suspect Wild start the season with:

Parise, Koivu, Heatley
Bouchard, Granlund, Setoguci
Powe, Brodziak, Clutterbuck
Dowell, Konopka, Mitchell

All the other hot prospects will have to wait for an injury as only Granlund cracks the starting lineup right out of the gate.
July 16, 2012
Votes: +0

Rich Dillon said:

Snakedoctor
... Absolutely! Phillips is a very good prospect too, but probably not in the hunt for a roster spot this year. The Wild will be very interesting in 3-4 years when most of these prospects will be ready for full-time jobs.
July 16, 2012
Votes: +0

Trevor said:

Brady19
... How about Zack Phillips as well? Minny is just loaded with talented prospects, and they didn't even have to draft 1st overall 3 straight times to do it!
July 16, 2012
Votes: +0

Rich Dillon said:

Snakedoctor
... Brodin's puck skills are there, but needs to get stronger before he'll be in the NHL. I can see Dumba and Brodin both making the team next year, but more likely Brodin first, then Dumba in 2014-15.
July 15, 2012
Votes: +0

martin said:

Hollywood
... How about Dumba? I see him in Minny in 2013-14.
And Brodin? This year or next?
July 15, 2012
Votes: +0
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