The Minnesota Wild have excelled at picking high-end talent from the entry draft for years now, and in return are frequently noted as having arguably the best prospect pool in the entire NHL. Director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett has given the Wild an almost comically deep roster of young players that have the potential to play in the NHL. With so many players to choose from it can be difficult to narrow it down, but here are the ten Wild prospects every fan should be paying attention to during the 2022-23 season.
NHL Hopefuls for the 2022-23 Season
No list of Wild prospects should exist without this exciting Austrian center. The 20-year-old may only be 5-foot-9, but his 183-pound frame gives him a sturdy build and his low center of gravity should complement his abilities in the faceoff dot. Marco Rossi is as close as you can get to being a lock for the Wild’s roster in the upcoming season after having a great 2021-22 season with the Iowa Wild. His skills translate to a top-line two-way center whose hockey IQ allows him to be equally dangerous at both ends of the ice, as likely to make a slick cross-seam pass as he is to shut down any advancing opponents.
With the Wild in need of some help at center and special teams, his talents are sorely needed. Don’t be surprised to see Rossi in the Calder conversation throughout this season as a result.
If you’re looking for a fast defender with a large offensive upside, look no further than 22-year-old Calen Addison. A second-round pick in 2018 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 5-foot-11 right-shot defenseman was acquired by the Wild in the Jason Zucker trade shortly after putting up nine points on his way to winning gold at the 2020 World Junior Championship. After getting a few tastes of the NHL last season, he appears to have had a roster slot opened for him to claim as the Wild sent veteran Dmitry Kulikov to Anaheim. His ability to run a power play from the point was proven last season with the Iowa Wild as he put up 27 assists and 34 points in only 43 games. With Minnesota in need of a jolt to get their own power play running again, it shouldn’t come as a shock to see him immediately slot into that first unit.
Top Prospects You’ll Find in Iowa
Last year the surprise coming out of training camp was 2019 third-rounder Adam Beckman. The now 6-foot-2 Canadian tore up the Western Hockey League (WHL) before spending his 2021-22 season with the Iowa Wild. Although he didn’t quite live up to the caliber of skills he showed in training camp, it is obvious that he has an elite shot to go along with his skill and smarts. The sniper is likely to spend another season in Iowa, but with Jordan Greenway injured, the opportunity could be there to battle for in training camp.
The greatest goalie prospect in the world fell to the Wild at 20th overall in the 2021 Draft and the Iowa Wild will benefit from it during the 2022-23 season as Jesper Wallstedt will begin his professional hockey career in North America. The 19-year-old is the definition of calm in the crease and rarely looks rattled no matter what the situation is in the game. His strong skating and puck tracking skills should translate well to the American Hockey League (AHL) after a performance at the delayed 2022 World Junior Championship (WJC) that saw him named Best Goaltender of the Tournament in addition to collecting a bronze medal.
Wallstedt’s presence in the net already has a finesse to it rarely seen at such a young age, which bodes well for Wild fans hoping to see him in Minnesota sooner rather than later.
The captain of the Soo Greyhounds for the 2021-22 season earned First All-Star Team honors in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and was part of the 2022 WJC gold medal team. Ryan O’Rourke is an interesting defender that is capable in nearly all categories but really doesn’t have that one star quality. His aggressive, aggravating play style is well noted as he never coasts through a shift and is commonly found battling for the puck all over the ice. With solid skating, good hockey IQ, smart stick use, and an absolute monster of a slap-shot; it feels like he is one good season away from developing a niche that could lead to an NHL roster spot.
Prospects You’ll Have to Find Elsewhere
Carson Lambos is a solid two-way defenseman the Wild picked up with their second pick in the first round of the 2021 Draft. He has shown steady growth with the Winnipeg ICE in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and came away with a gold medal at the 2022 WJC despite only playing one game after being dropped from the lineup following a poor performance in the first game. He will look to have a strong rebound through training camp and show off his skills in what will likely be his last season in the WHL.
The newly appointed captain of the University of Minnesota was acquired through a trade with the Los Angeles Kings that sent Kevin Fiala the other way. Wild fans will have a special place in their heart for this hometown shutdown defenseman that was also honored with the captaincy for Team USA at the 2022 WJC. He plays a very low-event style of defense that smothers the other team’s offense in a style reminiscent of current Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin. Don’t be surprised if he gets some looks in the Wild’s roster by the end of the season.
With two first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Wild took a bit of a gamble on one player and a safe bet on another. At 19th overall, Liam Ohgren was chosen as a player that is almost guaranteed to be a solid top-nine winger in the NHL but may lack the ability to become a truly elite player. He is known for his two-way play, a powerful skating ability that pushes the pace of the game, and a lethal shot. He will play with Djurgardens in Sweden for the 2022-23 season, but his maturity may see him move over to the North American game as soon as 2023-24.
The second of the Wild’s first-round picks in the 2022 Entry Draft was used to select Russian winger Danila Yurov. He was rated in the top-10 by many prospect rankings but fell to the Wild at 24th overall due to the current political situation in Russia combined with his lack of production with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) due to fluctuating amounts of ice-time.
He will attempt to grab some more ice time with Metallurg again in the 2022-23 season, but Wild fans should hope they don’t have to wait as long for this top-six winger as they did for their current Russian star Kirill Kaprizov.
One player that Wild fans are already clamoring to get to North America is second-round pick Marat Khusnutdinov. He might be on the small side at only 5-foot-11, but this center is truly a two-way player and his backcheck is extraordinary. His calling cards of speed and a strong transitional game have already netted him three points in four games this season with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL where he is signed through the 2023-24 season. Even if his arrival in the NHL is a few years away, he is worth watching to see what he will bring when he finally lands in Minnesota.
Wild Have Prospects Around the World
With their prospect pool the deepest it has ever been, the Wild are primed to have a consistent influx of talent for years to come. The most exciting part for fans is that they not only get to enjoy cheering for the Wild (Minnesota and Iowa) but also teams all over the world loaded with their young stars in the making. By familiarizing yourself with some of these players now you will get to follow more than just their NHL career, but also watch as they develop by playing key roles with local teams. Some of the best opportunities to get up close to a future NHL All-Star is by supporting local games in smaller arenas.