The Minnesota Wild have been filling the roster with aging veterans for several years. Signing the likes of players such as Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Eric Staal. The past few drafts have failed to yield much in terms of immediate help to the roster.
Top 10 Minnesota Wild Prospects
1. Joel Eriksson EK, Center
2015-16: Farjestad (SHL)
Drafted: 20th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Minnesota
Eriksson Ek has made the transition to North American to start the season. After one game in the AHL, he made the jump to the NHL. He had five points in his first nine games including a three game performance against Boston in October.
He is an aggressive forechecker and responsible two-way player. He was somewhat of a surprise to have made the team to start the season.
Before he played in his 10th game with the Wild, which would have burned a year of his entry-level contract, the Wild assigned him back to Farjestad of the SHL.
2. Alex Tuch, Right Wing
2015-16: Boston College (HE)
Drafted: 18th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Minnesota
The big power forward has left Boston College after signing his ELC and has begun his pro career. Tuch has started the year cutting his pro teeth with Iowa in the AHL and has started well with two goals and eight points in his first 14 games.
Tuch has the size, skill and skating ability to play a prominent top six role for the Wild and is arguably their top prospect. With his size and skill his time in the AHL could be short lived.
3. Luke Kunin, Center
2015-16: Wisconsin (Big Ten)
Drafted: 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Minnesota
The Wild added what they hope will be the future first line centre when the selected the offensively gifted Kunin in the first round of the 2016 draft. Kunin produced near a point per game production in his freshman season at Wisconsin, posting 32 points in 34 games.
He has returned for his sophomore year as the new team captain. He will have the opportunity to add some strength and bulk to his frame which he will need at the pro level.
4. Kirill Kaprizov, Left Wing
2015-16: Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Drafted: 135th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by Minnesota
Kaprizov is a prospect who is rising up the ranks like a rocket. As an 18-year-old he was called up to the KHL and produced 11 goals and 27 points in 53 games. He was named to the KHL All-Star game and was a member of the Russian WJC Silver Medal winning roster where he had three points in seven games.
Kaprizov has returned to the KHL this year and already has an eye-popping 24 points in 28 games. As an under 20 player in the KHL, Kaprizov ranks fourth overall in all time KHL points per game behind Alexi Cherepanov, Nikita Filatov, Yvgeni Kuznetsov and ahead of NHL stars such as Artemi Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nail Yakupov and Pavel Buchnevich. Kaprizov could be a steal from the fifth round.
5. Mike Reilly, Defence
2015-16: Iowa (AHL)
Drafted: Undrafted, signed as a free agent in 2015
One of the hottest college free agents, the Wild won the sweepstakes to sign the Chicago native. Reilly is an offensive defenceman who posted over a point per game in his final season in the NCAA with the University of Minnesota. Reilly has seen time in both the NHL and the AHL and has been able to produce some offensive results in both leagues.
What is holding him back is his defensive game and the ability to play big minutes against NHL competition. Reilly is a work in progress that the Wild hope can develop into a top four defenceman that can run the power play.
6. Tyler Graovac, Center
2015-16 Iowa (AHL)
Drafted: 191st in the seventh round of the 2011 draft by Minnesota
Graovac was recalled to the NHL in his third season but his time in the NHL was cut short due to injury. After starting the season in the AHL again, he has already been recalled to the NHL for his third time and has scored his first career NHL goal.
It is unlikely Graovac plays above a bottom-six, but he has tremendous size and strength which is ideal for a checking line center and he does possess some offensive upside and could be ready to play full time in the NHL.
7. Jordan Greenway, Left Wing
2015-16: Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted: 50th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Minnesota.
The hulking power forward is now in his second year at Boston University. After posting impressive point totals in his freshman season, he has improved as a sophomore and is scoring over a point per game with 12 points in nine games.
Should he be able to produce at this rate consistently all season, Greenway should be ready to make the jump to the pro level next year and could step straight into the NHL.
8. Gustav Olofsson, Defence
2015-16: Iowa (AHL)
Drafted: 46th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by Minnesota
Olofsson is a smart two-way defenceman with good size and some offensive upside. After missing almost the entire 2014-15 season to injury, Olofsson spent most of last year in the AHL where he posted 17 points in 52 games.
Missing a season of development is a significant setback and he should see the bulk of his playing time in the AHL again this year. Skating is also a concern for Olofsson as the NHL is trending towards more mobile puck moving defencemen.
9. Louis Belpedio, Defence
2015-16: Miami University
Drafted: 80th overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by Minnesota
The undersized puck moving defenceman is in his junior season at Miami University and is their team Captain. Belpedio represented Team USA at the WJC and was named an Alternate Captain, adding to his leadership resume.
Belpedio has strong skating skill and offensive instincts and can play the transition game. In the first seven games in his junior season he has posted three goals and six points in seven games as he continues to develop as a prospect. Belpedio will likely require some seasoning time in the AHL before he is NHL ready, but he is certainly trending in that direction.
10. Kaapo Kahkonen, Goalie
2015-16: Blues (Liiga)
Drafted: 109th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by Minnesota
Kahkonen is a butterfly style goalie who thrives with a heavy work load and projects as a future starting goalie. Kahkonen backstopped Finland to a WJC Gold medal championship in 2015-16.
H has returned for another season of playing pro hockey in Finland where he will play for Lukko, allowing him a bigger role on a stronger team. He has yet to sign a contract with the Wild, but could come to play in North America soon and try to play his way onto the Wild.