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. 5 – Center Charlie Coyle
2012-13 statistics: 16 games played, 3 goals, 11 assists and 20 penalty minutes (Terriers); 23 games played, 15 goals, 23 assists, +23 rating and 8 penalty minutes (Sea Dogs).
The 20-year-old former first round draft pick was the integral part of the blockbuster trade that sent Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks at the 2011 NHL Draft. He is a prototypical NHL power forward with size, strength, soft hands, speed and all-around excellent skills. He combines all his skills with a high hockey IQ to be one of the best prospects in all of hockey. He still needs to develop all his skills and improve his consistency. He greatly improved his prospect status with a huge showing in half a season with Saint John.
No. 4 – Defenseman Jonas Brodin
2012-13 team: Farjestads BK Karlstad (SEL)
2012-13 statistics: 49 games played, 8 assists, +6 rating and 4 penalty minutes.
The 19-year-old former first round draft pick is a smooth skating two-way defenseman. Scouts rave about skating skills and ability to make the perfect pass to start a breakout. He has good positioning and puck skills. He needs to improve his physical play along with his shot. He needs to develop his skills and adjust to the NHL game.
No. 3 – Goaltender Matt Hackett
2012-13 statistics: 12 games played, 3-6-0 record, 2.38 goals against average and .921 save percentage (Wild); 44 games played, 20-17-6 record, 2.38 goals against average, .917 save percentage and 1 shutout (Aeros).
The 22-year-old is considered the goaltender of the future for the Wild. Due to injuries sustained by Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding last season, Hackett made his NHL debut last season. He set the NHL record for longest shutout streak to start a career, which began very early in a game at San Jose and continued into the third period of the following game at the Los Angeles Kings. He is a calm, steady goaltender with good size and positioning. He is a coachable netminder with good bloodlines. He needs to improve his recovery. He is struggles to get back into position as a play breaks down in front of him. He has proven he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL. With Backstrom in the final year of his contract, Hackett may be the leading candidate to be the starter in the 2013-14 season.
No. 2 – Defenseman Jared Spurgeon
2012-13 team: Minnesota Wild (NHL)
2012-13 statistics: 70 games played, 3 goals, 20 assists, -4 rating and 6 penalty minutes.
The 22-year-old diminutive defenseman has been a pleasant rookie free agent signing for the Wild. He is the smallest defenseman on the team, but makes up for it with toughness and good defensive positioning. He is an offensive-minded player that moves the puck well. He has a good shot and skating skills. The negatives to his game involve his size; durability and getting pushed around by big power forwards. He finished last season on the injured list with a concussion sustained from an elbow. Head coach Mike Yeo has so much confidence in him that he will be paired with Ryan Suter to open training camp.
No. 1 – Center Mikael Granlund
2012-13 team: HIFK Helsinki (SM-Iiiga)
2012-13 statistics: 45 games played, 20 goals, 31 assists, +20 rating and 18 penalty minutes.
The 20-year-old former first round draft pick is a highlight waiting to happen every time he touches the puck. He has elite puck skills with above average quickness and agility. His best asset is his playmaking skils. He can thread a needle and make passes that very few players can make. He is a smaller player that lacks top-end speed, strength and durability. He has missed several games over the last couple seasons, including a concussion. He is expected to make an immediate impact for the Wild this season.