The Minnesota Wild have developed one of the best young core of prospects in the NHL.
That has all come in the last four years.
Before Chuck Fletcher took over as the team’s general manager, the Wild had the weakest prospect pool in the league.
Fletcher is using a draft-and-develop philosophy in an attempt to make the Wild yearly Stanley Cup contenders.
Here are the 10th through sixth best players on the Wild roster that are under 25-years-old (ages are determined as of Oct. 1).
No. 10 – Right Wing Brett Bulmer
2012-13 statistics: 9 games played, 3 assists, +1 rating and 6 penalty minutes (Wild); 53 games played, 34 goals, 28 assists, +10 rating and 93 penalty minutes (Rockets); 6 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, -2 rating and 2 penalty minutes (Aeros)
The 20-year-old former second round draft pick is the perfect complement to some of the smaller highly skilled prospects. Bulmer saw action in nine games with the Wild before returning to his junior team. He has a skill set similar to Cal Clutterbuck, but with more size and offensive upside. He has power forward potential, but will probably be more effective as a physical role player. He still needs to add some strength and improve consistency. He will most likely begin this season in Houston, but could be a call up if injuries happen.
No. 9 – Goaltender Johan Gustafsson
2012-13 team: Lulea HF (Swedish Elite League)
2012-13 statistics: 29 games played, 1.74 goals against average, .929 save percentage and 6 shutouts
The 20-year-old Swede has become the second best goaltender prospect in the Wild organization. That is not a slight on the others, but Gustafsson has played his way to this point. He backstopped Sweden to a gold medal in the junior championships. He is technically sound with good size and side-to-side movement. He needs to continue refining his skills and improving the consistency of his positioning.
No. 8 – Left Wing Johan Larsson
2012-13 team: Brynas IF Gavle (Swedish Elite League)
2012-13 statistics: 49 games played, 12 goals, 24 assists, -10 rating and 34 penalty minutes
The 20-year-old was the captain of the junior championship team. He has strong leadership skills with late blooming offensive potential. He is a strong two-way player that could be a star power forward in the NHL. He lacks prototypical NHL power forward size at just under 6-feet tall. He needs to improve his consistency and polish his offensive skills.
No. 7 – Defenseman Mathew Dumba
2012-13 team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
2012-13 statistics: 69 games played, 20 goals, 37 assists, -6 rating and 67 penalty minutes
The 18-year-old 2012 first round draft pick has undeniable talent. He is physical and can lay some big hits. Scouts describe him future star two-way defenseman with a killer instinct. In addition to his physical game, he has strong skating and puck handling skills. He has no shortage of confidence, either. He said in an interview with local media after the draft that he expects to be in the Wild’s opening day lineup on Oct. 13. That is a long shot. He needs to improve his strength and discipline. He also needs to refine his overall game. At the Wild’s development camp scrimmages, he looked like he was trying to do everything and trying to be perfect. He needs to tone it back and play his game.
No. 6 – Defenseman Marco Scandella
2012-13 team: Minnesota Wild (NHL), Houston Aeros (AHL)
2012-13 statistics: 63 games played, 3 goals, 9 assists, -22 rating and 19 penalty minutes (Wild); 9 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists, +4 rating and 4 penalty minutes (Aeros)
The 22-year-old former second round draft pick has climbed his way to the NHL in a short time. He has a high-ceiling two-way game with good size. He is aggressive and physical defender that can log a lot of minutes. He is not a naturally gifted offensive player, but will be a good complementary defenseman. He needs to improve his consistency. Also, he has a tendency to get beat by quick forwards.