Every year the Stanley Cup playoffs often give us an example of how a player selected in the later rounds (beyond the 1st round) or was an undrafted free agent goes on to become a post-season hero. Chicago's Bryan Bickell (41st Overall in 2004) and Andrew Shaw (139th Overall in 2011) as well as Los Angeles' Dwight King (109th Overall in 2007) and Jordan Nolan (186th Overall in 2009) are good recent examples of that. They may not have arrived to their respective teams with big expectations, but they delivered in big moments and helped round out formidable rosters without forcing their clubs to spend a premium via free agency to fill those spots. The Wild have had to fill many of these spots with free agents and that has helped put them in a salary cap bind. The team has started to tap its pool of prospects with mixed results.
A tale of two forwards, Mikael Granlund's struggles versus Jason Zucker's ability to electrify
Case in point, the heavily hyped Finnish wunderkind Mikael Granlund arrived and was given a spot as the club's 2nd line center and he struggled mightily, with a 47.1% win percentage on his draws, with just two goals and 8 points in 27 games and was a minus 4. Meanwhile, former 2nd round pick Jason Zucker had 4 goals and 5 points in 20 games and was a +4 while averaging about 3 shifts less per game than Granlund. Charlie Coyle played with the Wild's top line and registered 8 goals and 14 points in 37 games and was a +3. Yet is this enough? It didn't seem like it and as its hoped that players will learn from their experiences it is clear this tem has some areas for improvement, especially up front where the Wild were 22nd in the league with an average of 2.46 goals scored per game. Sure its better than than 30th as it was in the 2011-12 season but hardly a stat to feel proud about. So what players will be available to help the Wild with its problems?
Click on "Continue Reading" for the rest of the article…
For all of these articles I thought a long time about what I felt the team's organizational strengths and weaknesses were. Especially after limping into the playoffs with one of the best collections of talent in franchise history the examination wasn't easy. I really found myself conflicted over what I felt the Wild needed the most. I have my own personal preference, but I understand the team may think otherwise. So the biggest needs from an organization perspective for the Wild are the following 3 things.
1. The team needs a physical (i.e. mean) stay at home defenseman to make it more difficult for opposing teams in our zone and give our blueline a much needed edge to its game.
2. The team needs speedy forwards with decent finishing ability. I have been saying that for years, but in my opinion the team has still not addressed this problem and hopefully after this year's experience they will feel they cannot ignore it any longer.
3. The team needs another quality goaltending prospect to keep their pool of good young goaltending prospects deep. The team traded away Matt Hackett, but still has Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson but could use another quality puckstopper.
The Wild's present picks in this year's draft.
So this article will look at the defenseman that will be available when the Wild go to make their first selection (at least to this point) at #46 in the 2nd round of the draft. If I am the Minnesota Wild, keeping in mind what intangibles the current group of prospects is lacking this is who would be on my draft board and they are players that could very well be available when the Wild go make their selection.
I have looked at numerous websites and scouting publications to put together a Top 5 list of players that I think would fit the Wild's needs the best. So using information I have gathered from International Scouting Services, NHL Central Scouting, the Hockey News, and Hockey Prospect.com I hope to provide you a quality analysis. Let's begin.
1. Jason Dickinson, LW (Guelph, OHL) Height: 6'1" Weight: 179lbs Shoots: Left
ISS rank: 36th The Hockey News' rank: 35th NHL Central Scouting's (NA) rank: 30th
2012-13 Stats: 66GP 18G 29A = 47pts 31 PIM's +19
Talent Analysis: There is a fair chance the lanky forward will be selected by the time the Wild go to make their selection. Dickinson combines decent speed and a great shot off the rush. He needs to add bulk to his frame but still doesn't let that prevent him from getting involved physically. The Halton, Ontario-native can dangle in tight spaces but he doesn't need much time to unleash his shot which is heavy an accurate. He is not just a one-dimensional player as he played on both the power play and penalty kill for the Storm.
2. Ryan Hartman, RW (Plymouth, OHL) Height: 5'11" Weight: 181lbs Shoots: Right
ISS rank: 41st The Hockey News' rank: 28th NHL Central Scouting's (NA) rank: 16th
2012-13 Stats: 56GP 23G 37A = 60pts 120 PIM's +29
Talent Analysis: This gritty forward plays the game on edge at all times, and loves to be physical and drive opponents crazy in the process. Adding to the opponents agony, he's a pretty decent offensively and can be a nice secondary scoring option. He is a good skater who never takes a shift off and he's equally determined in the offensive or defensive zone. The Dundee, Illinois-native played well for Team USA at the U-20 World Junior helping them win a gold medal. Hartman is not afraid to answer the call to drop the gloves after he dishes out a big hit and will do whatever is needed for his team to win the game. Some people compare his game to Boston's Brad Marchand.
3. Emile Poirier, LW (Gatineau, QMJHL) Height: 6'1" Weight: 183lbs Shoots: Left
ISS rank: 79th The Hockey News' rank: 47th NHL Central Scouting's (NA) rank: 39th
2012-13 Stats: 65GP 32G 38A = 70pts 101 PIM's Even
Talent Analysis: Reasonable size, great skill and explosive speed who can finish too. Too good to be true, perhaps. This talented winger can absolutely dominiate a game, as he did for most of the season with the Olympiques. He can make defenders look silly 1-on-1 with a nice array of moves and has the speed to fly by just about anyone. He has good hockey sense which allows him to anticipate the play and put himself in position to score and he often does so. So what's the catch? This might scare some fans off, but work ethic can be inconsistent. Yet, all of the other tools are there along with a nice-sized NHL frame that has the potential to be a top line scoring winger.
4. Morgan Klimchuk, LW (Regina, WHL) Height: 5'11" Weight: 180lbs Shoots: Left
ISS rank: 47th The Hockey News' rank: 38th NHL Central Scouting's (NA) rank: 25th
2012-13 Stats: 72GP 36G 40A = 76pts 20 PIM's -1
Talent Analysis: Some players just have that knack to score from just about anywhere in the offensive zone and Klimchuk is that kind of talent. He has a killer release that is highly accurate and knows now to get himself open to be set up to bury chances. He also can dangle quite effectively around defenders and is very good one-on-one. Klimchuk is a reasonable skater, but he won't be confused for being super fast player but he moves efficiently on the ice. Like most players his age he could stand to add strength to his frame but he can be used in a defensive role like on the penalty kill or cause turnovers on the forecheck. He would be a great addition to any power play.
5. J.C. Lipon, C (Kamloops, WHL) Height: Weight: Shoots:
ISS rank: 91st The Hockey News' rank: N/A NHL Central Scouting's (NA) rank: 83rd
2012-13 Stats: 61GP 36G 53A = 89pts 115 PIM's +34
Talent Analysis: This pick is a bit more out there, but J.C. Lipon has been passed over in two drafts. All he has done has been a top rate finisher for the last 3 seasons. Lipon possesses terrific speed with tremendous acceleration and outstanding hands. He's also quite tenacious, loving to dish out hits and no stranger to dropping the gloves either. Lipon's strong start this season turned heads as he got a spot on Canada's WJC roster but he had some difficulties. Yet he rebounded with an excellent playoffs for the Blazers. His speed and acceration puts opponents in difficult positions and causes turnovers. His game kind of reminds me of Jordin Tootoo, but with better finishing ability. The highlight video is from two years ago, but his tremendous wheels are quite evident.