The Minnesota Wild have done a very good job of building a young nucleus of talented players. The team’s prospect list does not necessarily reflect the future of the Wild due to so many young players having key roles on the NHL team.
To accurately build an opinion of the team’s future success, you have to look at young players in the amateur ranks, the minor leagues and the NHL. The Wild have graduated their top young players from prospects to NHL veterans.
In this group, the Wild have some decisions to make where they will play this season. Most will be sent to Iowa, but at least two have a very good shot at making the opening day roster. There is one defenseman that will really have to be impressive to avoid being sent to Iowa. This list also includes four forwards with varying levels of NHL experience, but all have about the same amount of professional experience.
Here is the first installment of the Wild’s top players under the age of 25. It is the 15th through 11th best player.
No. 15 - RW Brett Bulmer
Bulmer has made a small impact for the Wild in two-plus seasons as a professional. However, injuries have hampered his development. The 22-year-old has a chance to make the NHL team as a bottom-six forward. If that happens, the Wild need him to be a forechecking agitator on the fourth line. He has the size, skating ability and a mean streak to be effective for the Wild without getting a lot of points. He is not going to be a high-end offensive player, but can play a role. When he plays that role will depend on his health.
No. 14 - C Jordan Schroeder
Schroeder signed with the Wild this offseason after the Vancouver Canucks declined to make him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. His development as a professional has been slowed by injuries, especially last season. The 23-year-old has plenty of NHL experience, but has yet to put his dynamic offensive skills together. The Wild hope that a change of scenery and playing for his hometown team will turn his career around.
No. 13 - C Zack Phillips
Phillips is a very good playmaker entering his third professional season. This could be a make or break season for the former first round draft pick. His development as a professional has been slow, but his production did improve from Year 1 to 2. The 21-year-old recorded 33 points (12 goals and 21 assists) in 76 games for an Iowa team that struggled to score goals. He figures to play a prominent role for Iowa again this season as a first or second line center as well as power play minutes.
No. 12 - D Gustav Olofsson
Olofsson is not a spectacular player, but does a little of everything well. He is a smart defenseman that relies on his size and positioning. He is still growing at 19-years-old. He will begin his first full professional season after playing for Colorado College as a freshman last year. During the Wild’s development camp in July, he looked good partnering with top prospect Matt Dumba. The two figure to be partners on the top pairing in Iowa this season.
No. 11 - LW Jason Zucker
Zucker is a speedster that needs to make a more significant role for the Wild this season. He has dynamic offensive skills with a quick and accurate shot. The 22-year-old split time last season between Minnesota and Iowa before finishing the season on injured reserve. He underwent a “lower body procedure” that was said to be minor during the Olympic break in April. The former University of Denver star will be battling for one of few wing spots available during training camp and the preseason.