The Minnesota Wild have been a model of consistency of late, clinching a playoff berth in each of their past six NHL seasons.
However, despite this impressive track record of domination, the Wild have failed to ascend past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yes, battling within an extremely skilled and deep Central Division has not helped their cause, yet neither has a lack of balanced and timely scoring from within their lineup.
Essentially, if the Wild wish to embark upon a deep postseason run with their current core of players intact, the organization will need to develop and implement a new wave of capable and incredibly potent young prospects.
Fortunately for Minnesota, a number of talented youngsters are well on their way to contributing at the NHL-level in the near future.
Stanley Cups: None
2017-18 Record: 45-26-11; 101 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Eric Staal; 42G, 34A, 76PTS
Farm System Grade: B-
Top 10 Prospects:
- Kirill Kaprizov
- Jordan Greenway
- Luke Kunin
- Louis Belpedio
- Dmitri Sokolov
- Filip Johansson
- Ivan Lodnia
- Jack McBain
- Mason Shaw
- Alexander Khokanov
The State of the Wild Farm System
The Wild would do well to bolster their offensive attack, and especially so if the franchise wishes to overcome its recent hardships in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In fact, since the 2008-09 season, Minnesota has scored at a 2.63 goals per game pace — an output which ranks as the NHL’s 24th-best during that period of time. So, it is only fitting that the franchise features a number of highly talented forward prospects eager to leave a lasting impression at the NHL-level.
Of the lot, it is none other than Kirill Kaprizov who is the most promising of which — although he isn’t exactly eager to grace NHL ice. One of the KHL’s most lethal offensive players, Kaprizov has two seasons remaining on his current contract with CSKA Moscow and won’t be able to join the Wild until the 2020-21 campaign.
If Kaprizov were to sign with Minnesota and embark upon a highly anticipated NHL career, the native of Novokuznetsk, Russia would surely be able to jump into the Wild’s roster and make an immediate impact. Currently skating in his fifth KHL season despite his young age of just 21-years, Kaprizov boasts a wealth of professional experience and a highly lethal skill set to boot.
Known for his devastating shot as well as endless creativity, Minnesota would benefit immensely and immediately were Kaprizov to sign an NHL contract.
In addition to Kaprizov, the Wild feature a slew of other forwards who will one day be capable of influencing the outcome of any given game at the professional-level. Of the team’s prospect pool, it is arguably Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, and Dmitri Sokolov who are the most promising.
In this trio of forwards alone, Minnesota owns a wealth of size, skill, and experience which should one day play a significant role within the Wild’s roster.
Greenway, an intimidating force given his 6-foot-6 and 230-pound frame, features a unique combination of size and skill which he displayed time and time again throughout his three-year career with the Boston University. Moreover, in Kunin, Minnesota boasts another highly talented and competitive NCAA standout whose time at the University of Wisconsin was cut short only when he signed his entry-level contract with the Wild.
Lastly, in Sokolov, Minnesota features a sizeable goal-scorer who is as lethal as he is consistent. In his final year of play in the OHL last season, Sokolov potted 50 goals in 64 games played — an output which topped his previous high-water mark of 48 goals in 2016-17.
So, although heavy on the offensive front, the Wild boast an impressive farm system and one which will undoubtedly prove capable of supplementing the team’s attack in the coming years. Although Minnesota would do well to focus on developing a greater number of prospective defencemen in addition to Louis Belpedio and Filip Johansson, the Wild stand poised for considerable yet sustained success in the immediate future.
One Wild Prospect to Watch
Although he endured somewhat of an inconsistent season preceding his selection by Minnesota in the 2018 NHL Draft, Jack McBain is an intriguing yet promising prospect worth watching.
Set to skate in his first season with Boston College in 2018-19, McBain will undoubtedly be determined to prove himself as an elite young player after falling to 63rd overall in the Draft. Long projected to be selected in the first round, McBain slipped outside of the top-31 overall on the heels of a 58-point campaign with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the OJHL.
Now, this is not to say that McBain’s 2017-18 season was disappointing by any means — he recorded 21 goals en route to his 58-point total in 48 contests — but rather that he has a great deal more to provide given his electrifying skill-set. Poised to embark upon his freshman NCAA campaign, it will be interesting to follow McBain’s development with the weight of his NHL Draft season finally lifted.