A Six Pack of Wild Prospects
As an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild I am excited for their future. Six promising Wild prospects competed in the World Junior Championships. Minnesota Wild’s 2010’s sixth round pick Johan Gustafsson took home the gold with a 17 save shutout over team Russia last night ending a 31 year drought for team Sweden. Teammates Jonas Brodin , a gifted-skating defenseman who played against the opposition's top lines was drafted 10th overall last June, and team Sweden’s captain, Johan Larsson, Minnesota Wild’s second round pick of the 2010 draft a strong two-way forward celebrated in the win. Both Larsson and Brodin have signed entry level contracts with the Wild. Larsson will turn pro for the Wild next season, something Sweden GM Johan Garpenlov confirmed Thursday and Brodin will also be given a chance to make the Wild next season. If Brodin, 18, doesn't make the team, he'll likely return to Farjestad in Sweden, where he plays 25 minutes a night, for further development.
Minnesota Wild’s top prospect Mikael Granlund, captain of team Finland finished the tournament tied for second among the scoring leaders with 11 pts. Granlund's shootout miss however catapulted the rival Swedes into Thursday night's gold medal game. Although devastated at the puck sliding off his stick he will be remembered for his goal in the 2011 IIHF World Championships where team Finland took gold. Granlund was named to the all-tournament team. Granlund has opted to stay unsigned so he can fulfill his six-month military obligation, and finish school. He hopes, lead HIFK to another SM-Liiga title. If the Wild cannot sign Granlund by June 1, it loses his rights and he can re-enter the 2012 draft. All indications are that Granlund will sign with the Wild. He idolizes Koivu and built a friendship with him during the world championships and in the Finnish Army. He has a strong relationship with General Manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr. He appeared at the Wild's Fan Fest at the 2011 draft, and attended the Wild's development camp in July. Granlund is a lock to make the Wild next season. If he re-enters the draft, he can't make any more money and he can't control where he ends up.
Although team USA had a disappointing tournament, Minnesota Wild’s prospects Jason Zucker, the 59th pick of 2010 and Charlie Coyle, the 28th pick of 2010 by San Jose, acquired by trade had key roles. Zucker was the captain of team USA and finished the tourney with 7pts. Coyle announced that he was leaving Boston University and would sign with the St. John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL after the WJC. Coyle showcased his talents as he scored a hat trick in America’s 11-3 pounding of Denmark.
This year’s WJC has illustrated that the Minnesota Wild have a bright future with a system full of young, exciting, and extremely talented hockey players. While some players might take longer than others to develop, the Minnesota Wild have prepared themselves for the upcoming years by investing in young talent that might be able to help the franchise hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in St. Paul.