The Minnesota Wild have announced their roster for the 2016 Traverse City Prospects Tournament, hosted by the Detroit Red Wings. For the first time in a few years, the Wild will showcase an exciting batch of prospect talent.
The influx of talent on the prospect team is a combination of recent draft picks, college prospects hitting the pro ranks and some high-upside free agent signings, like picking up offensively-gifted forward Sam Anas out of the Quinnipiac University.
All told, the roster features 13 Wild draft picks, three free agents signees and eight unsigned invitees.
For the Wild, the most exciting thing happening in their system may be an influx of forward talent. First-round draft picks Alex Tuch and Joel Eriksson Ek lead the way. Tuch left Boston College and will be fighting to carve out a space for himself on the NHL roster, which he may be capable of doing. He was, along with Eriksson Ek, the star of July’s development camp.
Eriksson Ek has the option of returning to the Swedish pro league if the Wild think that’s better for his development and he doesn’t make the NHL club. It’s possible, but he came into July’s camp, as well as National Junior Evaluation Camp in August, looking strong and playing a much more physical game than he had previously. He looks more NHL-ready than many expected him to be.
The team also has some fresh talent from free agent Sam Anas, second-year pro Christoph Bertschy, power forward Pavel Jenys, as well as rookies Chase Lang and Mario Lucia, both of whom are difficult to nail down. Those two have a load of offensive skill, but it’s not clear what direction they’ll go once they hit the pro ranks. Both should start the season with the Iowa Wild, but getting another look at them against other team’s top prospects should help paint a picture of where they will fit in Iowa. The knock on both, previously, had been a one-dimensional game. Lucia has worked on that and played a more well-rounded game with Notre Dame last season.
Both Adam Gilmour and Dmitry Sokolov will partake in the tournament as well. Neither were a part of July’s development camp. Sokolov, a seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft, was unable to participate due to injury.
A Promising Blue Line
The Wild lacks a “veteran” presence in the forward group, but gets it on defense from Gustav Olofsson who quite possibly should have graduated from a tournament like this, but injuries have continued to derail his development and ability to get games. He remains one the Wild’s top blue line prospects in Iowa and is entering a pivotal year. Olofsson and Mike Reilly, who is not playing in the tournament (and is two years older than Olofsson), are the defensemen with the best shot at making some NHL time stick this season.
I haven’t made a secret of the fact that Nick Seeler impressed at development camp. He’s another defenseman to keep an eye in the prospect pool. Seeler is not an offensive defenseman. He’s a grinder who plays a pretty safe game. He’s not without offensive talent and he can get the puck out of his own end, but he’s a little different mold than the others. That may give him an edge on getting an NHL call-up if the team has a specific role to fill.
Bouramman just grabbed his entry-level deal, but isn’t likely to turn pro in North America for a year or two. He’s still deciding whether to return to the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds or to take an offer to return to Sweden and play for Lulea Hockey in the SHL.
The team has a number of invitees, and they may have more than usual at September’s training camp as well, with five players missing the start of camp for the World Cup of Hockey. The most intriguing among them is WCHA Player of the Year Alex Petan, who spent a little time with Iowa at the end of last season.
Petan was outstanding at development camp. He’s a smaller player, but he more than makes up for it with a high-level ability to read the play. Though the offensive group is pretty fleshed out in Iowa, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him land an AHL contract.
Below is the full Minnesota Wild roster for the 2016 Traverse City Prospects Tournament.
* = invitee
Joel Eriksson Ek
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.