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 part one, the 11th through 15th ranked young players are likely going to play most of the season in Iowa. Part two begins to show the young talent already in the NHL. It has a good blend of defensive and offensive players with one goaltender, two defensemen and two forwards.
Here is the second installment of the Wild’s top players under the age of 25. It is the 10th through sixth best player.
No. 10 - LW Michael Keranen
The Wild signed Keranen early in the offseason - prior to the start of North American free agency. The 24-year-old had a breakout season in Finland’s elite league with 52 points in 52 games. He is a dynamic offensive player with good stick handling skills in traffic and a big and accurate shot. He attended the team’s development camp and showed promise while looking like a player that needs a season to adjust to the North American style. Beginning the season in Iowa and being high on the list of call ups may be the best way for the Wild to handle his development. Training camp will give the team a clearer indication of how he has adjusted, not just development camp.
No. 9 - D Matt Dumba
Dumba is a high-ceiling young defenseman. The 20-year-old 2012 first round draft pick has game changing skills at each end of the ice. He is a very good skater with a big shot and shut down ability in the defensive zone. He also has the ability to make the big hit at center ice. Last season, he played 13 games for the Wild, but was sent back to juniors for the final 26 games of the Western Hockey League season. In his time with the Wild, he looked over matched, but was dominant in juniors. He needed to play in Iowa last season, but any player in Canadian juniors cannot play in the American Hockey League at 19-years-old. He needs to learn how to control his talents and add strength to his frame.
No. 8 - G Darcy Kuemper
Kuemper saved the Wild’s season last year. The 24-year-old stepped into the lineup when Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom were out. Kuemper is big and athletic with a calm attitude. Nothing gets to him. He could be the team’s opening day starter, but the pair of concussions he sustained late in the season are a concern. The Wild figure to go into the 2014-15 season with three goaltenders, but Kuemper is the future for the Wild.
No. 7 - RW Charlie Coyle
Coyle had a tough 2013-14 season. The 22-year-old suffered an injury early, then was moved to center and back to wing and finally suffered a pair of separated shoulders in the playoffs. He is a big and skilled forward that can score around the net. Coyle needs to take the next step this season and become a more consistent force in the offensive zone.
No. 6 - D Marco Scandella
Scandella had a breakout postseason in 2014. The 24-year-old had shown the ability to be a shutdown defenseman, but also did not show the ability to do it game-in and game-out. He has the size, skating ability and puck handling to be a top pairing guy. He also has a big shot, but it is long and can take awhile to get it off. When he can put all his skills together on a consistent basis, he can give the Wild two defensive pairings that can play against top lines.