The strength of the Minnesota Wild organization is defense. They already have several defensemen 25-years-old or younger on the NHL roster, but their are a few more quality prospects still developing in the AHL or amateurs.
Jonathon Blum (age 25), Jonas Brodin (21 in July), Marco Scandella (24) and Jared Spurgeon (24) have all made significant contributions in the NHL. Blum spent more time in the AHL last season and is a restricted free agent this summer, but he is in line to be the third pairing right defenseman for the Wild.
The top-end prospects Matt Dumba (20 in July), Gustav Olofsson (19) and Christian Folin (23) will play their first full professional seasons this fall. Nolan De Jong (19), John Draeger (20), Dylan Labbe (19), Nick Seeler (21) and Carson Soucy (20 in July) have amateur eligibility remaining either in college or Canadian juniors.
The stable is full for the Wild on the blue line, but the goaltender position is another story. The Wild have two high potential net minders in Darcy Kuemper (24) and Johan Gustafsson (22). Both are expected to have longtime NHL futures. Behind them it is a big drop to Stephen Michalek (21 in August) and Alexandre Belanger (19 in August). The Wild need to add a goaltender, but not necessarily one in the early rounds.
Here are five goaltenders to watch heading into the 2014 NHL draft.
Thatcher Demko, Boston College (Hockey East)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 1 North American Goaltender.
Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting describes him as “a huge, strong goalie with excellent net coverage.” He adds that Demko “has that NHL presence in the net” and “more of a positional style-goalie that relies on his angles and size.”
Ville Husso, HIFK (Finland)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 1 European Goaltender.
NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb, describes him as a “big and calm goaltender that uses his size to his advantage.” Hockeysfuture.com says that “some coaches question his composure and mental approach,” but also states that his physical skills and technical abilities will get him a chance in North America.
Mason McDonald, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 2 North American Goaltender
Hockeysfuture.com describes him as “a battler between the pipes” and that he “never gives up on the puck and makes the most of his size and athleticism.”
Brent Moran, Niagara (OHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 3 North American Goaltender
Jensen describes him as “a very big presence, especially on initial shots.” He adds that Moran is “very quick for his size and his technical ability is very good.”
Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth (OHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 4 North American Goaltender
Elite Prospects says that he may not have “prototypical size NHL teams look for, but the rest of the game is making them notice.” They add that he “has a strong, fluid leg push, utilizes a tight compact butterfly, the ability to read the play and proactively get into solid position making him hard to beat.”
Here are seven defensemen to watch heading into the 2014 NHL draft.
Anthony DeAngelo, Sarnia (OHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 14 North American Skater
Elite Prospects describes him as “a smooth skating, offense-generating defenseman who has some very quick feet.” They also say that “he’s slippery and very creative with the puck” and that his “offensive awareness is incredible but is easily out-muscled in his own end and needs to work on his positioning.”
Jack Dougherty, USA U-18 (USHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 30 North American Skater
Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects says that he has all-around skill with few weaknesses that scouts love. He also adds that he “shows intelligence and conviction in his abilities, which include a great outlet pass, good positioning and astute awareness on both sides of the puck.” He is the top rated Minnesotan by most scouting services.
Julius Honka, Swift Current (WHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 11 North American Skater
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button says that he is “diminutive yet makes a big impact on game.” He also says that he “recognizes opportunity and is quick to take advantage yet is also a very patient player.”
Brycen Martin, Swift Current (WHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 26 North American Skater
Dan Marr of NHL Central Scouting Service says that he is “a very appealing player, because you don’t often see him make mistakes.” He also says that Martin has “very good hockey sense, he’s a strong skater, and he moves the puck well.”
Roland McKeown, Kingston (OHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 27 North American Skater
David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting Service says that he “can play offensively and move the puck and has a bomb of a shot.” He also says that defensively “he presents himself as a big, strong and mobile guy.”
Marcus Pettersson, Skelleftea Jr. (Sweden-Jr.)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 7 European Skater
Elite Prospects describes him as “a tall and lanky two-way defender who plays with good mobility, strong positioning and impressive passing ability as well as the ability to make quick decisions.” They also say “he needs to use his size better as there is not much physicality in his game.”
Travis Sanheim, Calgary (WHL)
Central Scouting Service’s No. 53 North American Skater
Button says he “has been exceptional” and there is “nothing he can’t do in the game.” He also says that Sanheim “skates, thinks incredibly well, has poise, makes plays offensively and defensively and is a player who recognizes opportunity in the game and takes advantage.”