Minnesota Wild 2011 NHL Entry Draft preview; left and right wings
The Minnesota Wild may have an abundance of goaltenders and defensemen in the system, but when it comes to forwards it is pretty thin.
Last year’s draft produced the organization’s best prospect and several impact players in the top two rounds.
This year’s draft probably won’t produce as many impact players, because the Wild do not have a second round pick.
I think the Wild will select a forward and here are the top five wings.
No. 1 – LW Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener (OHL) – The 6-foot, 207-pound Sweden native is worthy of being a top pick in the draft. He is a strong leader and two-way player. He is a very good skater. He competes as hard as anyone in the draft and is mature beyond his years. Last season’s stats: 36 goals, 30 assists, 66 points and 61 penalty minutes in 53 games played.
No. 2 – RW Joel Armia, Assat (Finland) – The 6-foot-3-inch, 191-pound Finland native played for one of the better teams in Finland’s top league. He is surprisingly mobile for a player his size. He is a sniper with a good shot selection and heavy wrist shot. He is good at finding open spots on the ice. Last season’s stats: 18 goals, 11 assists, 29 points and 24 penalty minutes in 48 games played.
No. 3 – LW Sven Baertschi, Portland (WHL) – The 5-foot-10-inch, 181-pound Switzerland native is a finesse player with good playmaking ability. He has quick hands with terrific stick handling ability. He has very good on-ice vision. Last season’s stats: 34 goals, 51 assists, 85 points and 74 penalty minutes in 66 games played.
No. 4 – LW Matt Puempel, Peterborough (OHL) – The 6-foot, 196-pound Ontario native is a sniper that missed a good portion of last season due to injury. He is dangerous with the puck with an excellent shot and a knack for making tape-to-tape passes through traffic. He is not the biggest guy, but is not afraid to go the net and make traffic. Last season’s stats: 34 goals, 35 assists, 69 points and 49 penalty minutes in 55 games played.
No. 5 – LW Brandon Saad, Saginaw (OHL) – The 6-foot-1-inch, 208-pound Pennsylvania native is a solid two-way player who is defensively responsible. He is a power forward in the offensive zone with very good speed and agility. He is solid on his skates and fights through checks. Last season’s stats: 27 goals, 28 assists, 55 points and 47 penalty minutes in 59 games played.
Others of note: RW Seth Ambroz, Omaha (USHL); RW Tyler Biggs, USA U-18 (USHL); LW Phillip Danault, Victoriaville (QMJHL); LW Max Friberg, Skovde (Sweden); RW Dmitrij Jaskin, Slavia (Czech Republic); W Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa (OHL); RW Tomas Jurco, Saint John (QMJHL); LW Alexander Khokhlachev, Windsor (OHL); W Nikita Kucherov, CSKA 2 (Russia Jr.); LW Mario Lucia, Wayzata (Minnesota High School); RW Richard Rakell, Plymouth (OHL); RW Ty Rattie, Portland (WHL); RW Miikka Salomaki, Karpat (Finland).