Hockey tournaments flood the month of December, and with Thankisgiving approaching, its about that time where national teams begin their camp tryouts. This year, the Wild have an impressive number of prospects looking to represent their country in the World Junior Championships U-20. The top prospects from around the world will be attending, such as 2012 potential #1 picks Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko.
After a bit of wheeling and dealing, GM Chuck Fletcher has refilled the prospect cupboards for the Wild, and many of them will be on display this Christmas. But just exactly who?
Mikael Granlund, C/LW, HIFK
Of course, our baby Jesus will be there!
There is no doubt he will play for Finland. He's solidly built, has hockey sense that is off the charts, and stick skills to leave defenders trying to catch up. Honestly, there isn't much I can say that hasn't been said already. He is just awesome!
For old times sake!
Wicked Finland Goal vs Russia - Mikael Granlund ,1 - 0 (via BFHDVR)
Jason Zucker, RW, U. of Denver
The Wild found a gem in Jason Zucker, when they traded their 3rd and 4th round picks to sneak into the 59th overall spot. The only question about Zucker is what type of player will be in the NHL. He has a dangerous shot that could see him playing in the top six, but has made a niche for himself as an energetic forechecker, ideal for a 3rd liner.
Either way, he is as NHL-sure as any prospect in the Wild system, including Granlund. He has added significant muscle to his frame, but what role will he play in the NHL?
What role will he play this Christmas for USA? Well, he has three Gold medals and one Bronze, and is looking to add one more to his resume. Not many players have as much international experience as Zucker, which could see him have the inside job donning the 'C'. He'll be the go-to guy for USA, playing against top lines, agitating, as well as putting pressure on the opposing defense with his speed and shot.
Charlie Coyle, C, Boston U.
Acquired in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft through the Brent Burns deal, Coyle was ranked #2 in the Hockeywilderness Readers Polls, and for good reason. While he may not have that flashy offensive trait, he's big, strong, can dominate along the boards and has some solid overall skating and offensive abilities to compliment.
If theres one way of ensuring your spot on the roster, Coyle has acheived it, being named U20 WJC Top 3 Player on the USA Team last year. He'll most likely see time on the top 2 lines at center, and possibly be a captain.
Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad
Apparently that is his nickname and I like it. Like Brodin, they are skinny strips of meat, but sprinkle it on any meal, and it'll taste delicious. The Minnesota Wild's top pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Brodin may not have the offensive numbers, but defensively, has been impressive. Recently, he was chosen to represent the Swedish National team (thats right, not the juniors) in the Karjala Cup, a tournament that is played between Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic.
Thanks to SouthSwe on HFBoards, we are able to track Brodin's progress, and it appears all he does is play with poise and confidence. Eats lots of minutes, moves the puck well and is just good.
Färjestad defenseman Sanny Lindström yesterday after watching the awards on tv held his own unofficial SEL hockey awards on Twitter lol, as we don't have a real one in Swe.
"The Breakthrough of the year award goes to Jonas Brodin.
"The new Lidas"(Lidström) and "supertalent" is two things he often get to hear. The biggest talent I've met."
Sanny also in a chronicle in a local newspaper in Oct said that "Brodin is probably the guy in the team that has been least affected by our crisis, one of the many strengths he holds.
His play has been phenomenal so far"
He also just tweeted Brodin with a new nickname.
Kör hårt imörra Bacon @brodin25
"Go for it tomorrow Bacon"
He'll be a key part of the Swedish defense this year. I don't know much about Sweden but his confidence and reliability on the backend might see him with a letter on his sweater.
Anyways, again thanks to SouthSwe, skip to 0:55 and watch Brodin at work: http://www.elitserienplay.se/video.1279722664001
Johan Larsson, C, Brynas
Check out HW's previous artcle of Johan Larsson. It pretty sums it all up. Solid offensively, solid defensively, and a leader. He will be one of Sweden's top forward and top leader.
Johan Gustafsson, G, Lulea
Seriously, I'm running out of juice here.
You would think, after all these years, that the Wild would finally experience a drought in their goaltending system.
They seemed to have found another gem in Johan Gustafsson. He may be only 19 years old and he only be a rookie in the SEL, but he's 7th in save percentage (92.38%), 3rd in GAA (1.86), and tied for 1st in shutouts (4). He's big and athletic and will be heading to Houston very soon.
He will most likely be Sweden's top goaltender.
Brett Bulmer, LW, Kelowna Rockets
After playing like a solid third liner in the NHL, Brett Bulmer was sent back down to juniors in hopes to taking that talent and developing into something even better. And so far, he hasn't disappointed with 10 points in 7 games.
If theres one thing Team Canada likes on their bottom six lines, its grit and energy. Brett Bulmer is the embodiment of such ideals. Doesn't hurt that he knows how to rile up opponents as well. Bulmer is anything but a lock on Team Canada, but he has definately made progress in the past month to warrant a tryout from Team Canada on the bottom two lines.
- For Team USA, the Wild have two potential captains and two key forwards.
- For Team Sweden, the Wild have one key forward, one key defenseman, and key goaltender. 1-2 potential captains.
- For Team Finland, the Wild has Jesus.
- For Team Canada, the Wild potentially has a bottom six forward.
I don't even need to describe it. Just read these four lines and you'll understand why I am so excited.