The 2015 World Junior Championships are underway, hosted by Canada this year. As a fan of the Minnesota Wild, you may be interested in which Wild prospects will be participating in this year’s tournament. So, let’s run through each one. Unfortunately, by each one, we mean both prospects. Yes, only two Minnesota Wild prospects are participating in the World Juniors this year. Better than nothing I suppose. Here they are.
Alex Tuch – Right Wing – USA
The Minnesota Wild 1st round selection from last year’s draft, at 18th overall, will suit up for the American squad. The highly touted right winger is playing for Boston College throughout the season. Standing at 6’3, and 213 pounds, Tuch is a promising young power forward who has shown some extreme offensive talent. In 17 games with the Eagles of the NCAA this year, Tuch is tied for his team lead in points, with 5 goals and 7 assists. So far in the tournament, Alex Tuch has scored one goal and one assist in USA’s three games, compiling 14 shots on goal. The great news about Tuch’s potential for this tournament is that he will play alongside budding superstar, and likely top two pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel. Hopefully this will allow Tuch to show off the most of his talent as possible in the two week tournament. As for Alex Tuch’s future with the Minnesota Wild, he will likely remain in the NCAA for another year before transitioning into the professional game. He could be given a shot to make the Wild’s roster in 2016-17, but will also have a more likely option to play for the Iowa Wild of the AHL. He will be looked upon to become a top 6 forward for Minnesota, putting up above average offensive numbers.
Kaapo Kahkonen – Goaltender – Finland
The Minnesota Wild chose Kaapo Kahkonen with the 109th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Kahkonen is a member of the Espoo Blues in the SM Liga. In the 2015 World Juniors, Kahkonen will serve as backup to Juuse Saros. He is very likely to take over the starter’s role from Saros in next year’s tournament. In 2014, Kahkonen seemingly separated himself from all other Finnish goaltenders to become the sure heir to Saros. Kahkonen was likely to get in one or two starts in the round robin, against Slovakia, Germany or even both. However, Ville Husso was shockingly the starting goalie against the USA, with Saros playing against Slovakia and Canada, and now Kahkonen will most likely go the entire tournament without any ice time. Minnesota knows that Kaapo Kahkonen is more of a project prospect, but definitely has tremendous upside and could very well be the Wild’s best prospect in goal. He plays a butterfly style between the pipes and is very quick with his lateral movement. He’s also very calm and is able to control rebounds well. He definitely has the potential to become the starter of the Minnesota Wild one day, although that day may not come until around 2020.
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at email@example.com or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.