The Minnesota Wild have desperately been lacking that game-breaking forward who can create offense out of nowhere. Whether or not that player is in the system has been a concern with the Wild having traded away many top picks over recent seasons (and sometimes using picks in the first three rounds to go for guys who won’t fulfill that role).
With that in mind we can go through Minnesota Wild prospects using NHL equivalency (NHLe), a stat created by Gabriel Desjardins, to compare prospects across leagues. While it’s not a perfect stat, it attempts to create an equivalency based on historical precedent, showing how the production in another league typically translates into NHL production over an 82-game season.
As I did earlier in the season when I went through Wild prospects NHLe, I’m including defensemen outside of the AHL. This stat tends to be less telling for defenseman, since it’s really just a measure of offensive output.
I’m also including a few of the Iowa Wild’s youngest forwards for comparison.
|Kirill Kaprizov||KHL||Metallurg Novokuznetsk||53||11||16||33.4188679245283|
|Grayson Downing||AHL||Iowa Wild||36||15||16||33.1872222222222|
|Zack Mitchell||AHL||Iowa Wild||54||19||13||22.8385185185185|
|Chase Lang||WHL||Vancouver Giants||63||27||35||21.7885714285714|
|Christoph Bertschy||AHL||Iowa Wild||51||9||19||21.1592156862745|
|Joel Eriksson Ek||SHL||Farjestad BK||37||9||6||19.9459459459459|
|Alex Tuch||NCAA / Hockey East||Boston College||31||12||14||19.9445161290323|
|Louis Nanne||NCAA / ECAC||RPI||34||6||15||19.7523529411765|
|Reid Duke||WHL||Brandon Wheat Kings||55||27||22||19.7247272727273|
|Zac Dalpe||AHL||Iowa Wild||4||2||0||19.27|
|Louis Belpedio||NCAA / NCHC||Miami (OH) University||28||3||13||19.2114285714286|
|Gustav Bouraman||OHL||Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds||56||4||30||15.9314285714286|
|Mario Lucia||NCAA / Hockey East||Notre Dame||32||10||11||15.605625|
|Raphael Bussieres||AHL||Iowa Wild||5||0||2||15.416|
|Tyler Graovac||AHL||Iowa Wild||25||3||7||15.416|
|Jordan Greenway||NCAA / Hockey East||Boston University||30||5||14||15.0606666666667|
|Adam Gilmour||NCAA / Hockey East||Boston College||32||11||8||14.119375|
|Carson Soucy||NCAA / NCHC||University of Minnesota-Duluth||28||1||8||10.8064285714286|
|Nolan De Jong||NCAA / Big Ten||Michigan||28||0||10||10.5428571428571|
|Pavel Jenys||OHL||Niagara Ice Dogs||53||7||14||10.3969811320755|
|Tanner Faith||WHL||Moose Jaw Warriors||59||3||21||9.00610169491526|
|Jared Knight||AHL||Iowa Wild||33||1||6||8.17515151515152|
|John Draeger||NCAA / Big Ten||Michigan State||32||1||7||7.38|
|Hunter Warner||WHL||Prince Albert Raiders||60||2||16||6.642|
|Brett Bulmer||AHL||Iowa Wild||41||2||5||6.58|
|Brady Brassart||AHL||Iowa Wild||30||3||2||6.42333333333333|
|Nicholas Boka||NCAA / Big Ten||Michigan||28||0||6||6.32571428571429|
|Nick Seeler||NCAA / Big Ten||University of Minnesota||28||0||6||6.32571428571429|
|Kurtis Gabriel||AHL||Iowa Wild||46||5||2||5.86478260869565|
|Avery Peterson||NCAA / NCHC||University of Nebraska-Omaha||14||0||1||2.40142857142857|
|Pontus Sjalin||SHL||Luleå HF||25||0||0||0|
Top Minnesota Wild Prospects
Kirill Kaprizov continues to impress in the KHL. The 18-year-old 2015 5th round pick has the highest NHLe of all Wild prospects and put up some impressive numbers during the KHL’s regular season. He scored the second most points ever by a U19 player in the KHL. His 27 points puts him ahead of U19 seasons by Vladimir Tarasenko, Artemi Panarin, Anton Slepyshev, Marko Dano and many others.
Outside of the AHL, Chase Lang is the next best mark. He’s had a strong season with the Vancouver Giants, where he was traded after just 14 games with the Calgary Hitmen. With 62 points he’s outpaced the 56 he posted last year, averaging a point per game.
A 2014 6th round pick, Lang is another pleasant surprise in the system where some top picks haven’t panned out in recent years. Kurtis Gabriel, Raphael Bussieres, Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Nick Leddy and Tyler Cuma are all 1st and 2nd round picks since 2008 that have not transitioned well to the pro ranks or have been traded away.
The good news for the Wild in terms of high draft picks is that their most recent first round picks, Joel Eriksson Ek (2015) and Alex Tuch (2014), come in with the next two non-AHL slots. Eriksson Ek has put together a strong season playing in Sweden’s top professional league, the SHL. He’s had flashes of high-level offensive IQ both in the SHL and during the World Junior Championship. That includes a goal this week that deserved a couple of replays.
Alex Tuch had a tough start to the season with Boston College and found himself left off of the Team USA World Junior Championship roster after having been a top line player there in last year’s tournament. He’s bounced back nicely though with 26 points in 31 games. The BC sophomore is only two points shy of his freshman season point total, put up in six more games.
Among this season’s production was a big overtime game-winner in the Beanpot championship where he wired one past Boston University’s Sean Maguire.
One name fans will be curious about is Mario Lucia, who is in his final season with Notre Dame. He put up 21 goals last year and is down to just 10 this season, though his assist rate is up a little. The Notre Dame alternate captain has seen a bit of a role change this season on a strong, deep team. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s able to transition to the pro ranks. The 2011 2nd round pick looks like he could transition well both because of his style and his 6-foot-3, 205 pound frame.
Another name that’s disappointingly low is Pavel Jenys. The 6-foot-3 Czech center almost transitioned to the AHL to start the year after grabbing eight games with Iowa last season at age 18. In 63 games with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves last season — the OHL’s 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres — he put up 15 goals and 45 points. This season, his production has dipped. He scored just four goals and 12 points through 24 games with Sudbury before being dealt to the Niagara IceDogs, a team that has a chance of making a run. However, even on a much better team, his production continued to lag. He’s certainly not the top dog there with a very good roster, but his three goals and nine points in 30 games looks paltry.
Avery Peterson had a very nice season last year, but he left Omaha for personal reasons this season. He’ll be transferring to the University of Minnesota Duluth next season in order to be closer to a sick family member.
Bussieres has spent most of his season in the ECHL where he has 11 goals and 22 points through 32 games for the Quad City Mallards.
Is He There?
Is there that game-breaker in the group? Probably not. Kaprizov’s development is promising, but it’s too early to say he’s the next Tarasenko. There isn’t a knock-out prospect in the group, but Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek and Tuch look like they could be productive, important members of the team down the road.
Beyond that trio, Lang, Lucia and Reid Duke all hold a lot of promise as well. They maybe aren’t as high-end of prospects, but there’s reason to be hopeful about their development.
NHLe numbers are indebted to Desjardins, Scott Reynolds and Rob Vollman.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.