Christmas! Santa! And Hockey!
Thats right! A third of the regular season has past and the World Junior Championships are slowly arriving A few prospects are hoping to represent the Wild this year: Mikeal Granlund, Erik Haula, Johan Larsson, Johan Gustafsson and Jason Zucker.
This season, many Wild prospects are having great starts, including goaltenders Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson.
I changed the format a little, only discussing the hots (and not so hots) of this rankings and hopefully, will leave you all pleased!
Here, on Hockeywilderness, we will rank our prospects, and hopefully, you will be entertained and informed about the future of the Minnesota Wild
(Part 2 of 4. There will be four rankings throughout the year, during the beginning of August, December, February, and June)
Requirements for rookies:
*Under the age of 27
**Has played less than 15 NHL Games (some exceptions apply e.g Gillies)
***Has played less than 4 years of pro hockey
EDIT: Changes for the future: If a forward and defenseman has played more than 53 NHL games, he will no longer be considered a prospect. 15 games for goaltenders. This rule will be in effect for the next two rankings.
Darcy Kuemper G
When you face the 5th most shots in your respective league and play the 2nd most minutes on the ice, and still lead the league in Wins, GAA, Save Percentage and Shutouts, you know you are having one heck of a start. His efforts were recognized when he won Goaltender of the Week from Oct 4. - Oct 10. With that kind of numbers with that much work, this late round pick is looking like a steal for the Wild.
Marco Scandella D
It was expected that Scandella would bring a safe, defensive game into the pro game. He has, but he also brought along an unexpected offensive game, chipping in 11 points in 19 games. His quick transition into the AHL got him a call-up to the Wild where he looked very solid for a 20-year old rookie. To quote Russo from his Russostrib twitter, "Marco Scandella, playing third NHL game, is a player folks. He might be their only young untouchable"
Jason Zucker LW
Like Scandella, Zucker was expected to bring in a physical game to his respective league, but the offense he brought along was a surprise. Currently, Zucker is ranked 3nd throughout the WCHA with 12 goals with Denver. Denver Post Mike Chambers obviously has a man-crush on Zucker but beautifully breakdowns Zucker's game at http://bit.ly/9CiAEC. Enjoy the read!
Johan Gustafsson G
Its nice to see an 18-year old rookie goaltender being beaten out by only four goalies who are 4+ years older than him, playing in a men's league. That's exactly what Gustafsson is doing. His start this season will have people watching if he is capable of playing for Sweden during the WJC. Posting a 0.99 GAA and a 0.950 Save Percentage in 2 international games with the Sweden U20 at the beginning of the season will only help his chances.
Jarod Palmer RW
Leading the Houston Aeros in scoring is probably not a bad way to start your rookie season at the professional level. It also isn't bad to 3rd highest +/- on the team either. It seems like whatever made Palmer successful with Miami University has transitioned nicely into the AHL.
Tyler Cuma D
Being injured is not Cuma's fault. But since being drafted by the Wild in 2008, he has only played 85 junior games. This year allows Cuma to finally show what he is capable of but had a rough start when he had himself injured during pre-season. Because of his injury, and the fast progress of Zucker and Haula, Cuma falls down the rankings as a result.
Colton Gillies LW
Colton Gillies continues to drop down the rankings as any hope for offense game seems to be diminishing. While he was drafted to be a fast-skating checker, there were a few that hoped that some offensive game might come, but in his 3rd professional season, time is running out. With the Aeros, Gillies has not become the speedy, hitting train scouts hoped he would become, and while there may still be a future as a good-decent checker at the NHL level, there is many who doubt if he can become a premium shutdown forward.
Nate Prosser D
While having a decent season with the Aeros, many hoped he would the Wild's 7th defenseman at the start of the season, if not, one of the first call-ups by the Aeros. So far, the Wild have called up Justin Falk, Marco Scandella, even Jared Spurgeon has been recalled. Michael Russo tweeted "As for Prosser, Wild hasn't been happy w his play this yr, so, essentially, no reward". Not great words after playing extremely well with the Wild last season for 3 games.
Dennis Endras G
Endras looked very good during the Wild's developmental camp. He also looked very good at the start of the season with his team in Germany. However, he currently posts a mediocre 3.51 GAA and a 0.884 save percentage in 20 games. A quick drop from his previous 2.45 GAA and 0.922 save percentage in 7 games.