Prospect Tuesdays: 6-10 (+1) Prospect Christmas Rankings

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 08: Shane Prince #21 of Team USA is stopped by Johan Gustafsson #30 of Team Sweden at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 8, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Why the plus 1? Like ThatGuy22 pointed out, I missed Justin Falk, who deserves to be somewhere on these rankings and still, by definition, considered a prospect.

Again, another mention of the World Junior Championships that is creeping up real soon; the Wild have 6 players in this years tournament, it actually almost had 8, and those 6 players show up in our top 10.

But who is where?

Earlier in the year, we did a readers poll on our top prospects. What has changed over the course of the last few months? Take the jump and find out!

Here were the results from the Readers Poll:


Rank Name Team League
1
Mikael Granlund
HIFK
SM-Liiga
2
Charlie Coyle
Boston University
Hockey East
3
Jason Zucker
Denver
WCHA
4
Marco Scandella
Minnesota Wild
NHL
5
Jonas Brodin
Farjestad
SEL
6
Zack Phillips
Saint John
QMJHL
7
Matt Hackett
Houston Aeros
AHL
8
Jared Spurgeon
Minnesota Wild
NHL
9
Johan Larsson
Brynas
SEL
10
Casey Wellman
Houston Aeros
AHL
11
Colton Gillies
Minnesota Wild
NHL
12
Darcy Kuemper
Houston Aeros
AHL
13
Justin Falk
Minnesota Wild
NHL
14
Tyler Cuma
Houston Aeros
AHL
15
Brett Bulmer
Kelowna Rockets
WHL
16
Nate Prosser
Houston Aeros
AHL
17
Mario Lucia
Penticton
BCHL
18
Cody Almond
Houston Aeros
AHL
19
Erik Haula
U. of Minnesota
WCHA
20
Chay Genoway
Houston Aeros
AHL

12. D Justin Falk (Minnesota Wild) 6-5 215lbs

Hockey Wilderness - Link

Falk has become a bit of a folk hero in Saint Paul in just 11 games. He is used on the penalty kill, although still in a third pairing role, and fills his role perfectly. His 14:52 TOI /G, and his 1:38 SH TOI /G both rank him only above Clayton Stoner, but they both are about where they should be for a third pairing d-man. As the coach's confidence in him grows, he will likely be allowed more minutes, in more situations.

The biggest reason he is quickly becoming a fan favorite is not because he is going to play big minutes, nor because he is going to put in 20 goals from the blue line. It simply the fact that he is solid defensively. He has the best best +/- of the Wild defensemen (+3), he clears traffic in front of the net, and he is willing to drop the gloves to defend himself and his teammates.

A big, physical defenseman who plays every shift, works hard (sorry Tom), plays lights out defensively, and doesn't make glaring, high profile mistakes. I wonder why this guy could be so popular in Minnesota.

While not the most physical defensive man you would expect from a guy his size, he uses his reach effectively and plays his role on the bottom pairing fairly well.

And for a guy his size, his skating is quite impressive. He is looking like a Wild regular, and if not for his injuries, most likely would have graduated and not be considered a prospect.

He finds himself in the rankings, and I snuck him into #12, right about Lucia. Lucia may have the upside, but Falk is already wearing a Wild sweater and is already considered a Wild player. Doesn't get much safer to a NHL player than that.

10. G Johan Gustafsson (Lulea) 6-2 203lbs

Eliteprospects - Link

A big goaltender that is quite technically skilled. Gustafsson is agile, moves smoothly in net and has very good hockey sense. Is also a very capable stickhandler.

Another under-the-radar Swedish prospect for the Wild, who is having a great season in Sweden.

Currently, he is in the top 10 of all goaltending stats, including Save % (91.88%), GAA (1.99), Wins (10), Shutouts (4), Shots Against (468) and Games Played (31). Even more impressive is he is doing all this against older goaltenders. From what I can tell, he is the only rookie that is an SEL starter.

He will bring his game to this years World Junior Championships as he comes in as the #1 goaltender for Sweden. The Wild have so many good goaltending prospects, it'll be interesting how they will deal with it in the near future.

9 - F Casey Wellman (Minnesota Wild) 6-0 173lbs

Kirk Luedeke via HFBoards - Link

Good size and decent speed, but I look at him and think he's more quick than fast; he's a fine skater, but lacks that separation gear you look for. Elusive; uses his agility to turn defenders and gain inside position for quality scoring chances. Excellent athlete with the bloodlines to be an effective pro (dad played MLB). Superb vision and soft hands- one of those guys who finds loose pucks in traffic in close and has buried his chances this season. Very good shot- nice release and he generates good power on it. Could stand to work on accuracy. Gets open a lot for one-timers and seems to have a real feel for the offensive flow of the game. Not all that great defensively- will need to work on his awareness in the neutral and defensive zones when he reaches the pros.

We all know who Casey Wellman is. We all love him, alot of that love comes from the fact he was one of the new Wild kids the reformed management team started to bring in from college (similar to Jarod Palmer).

He was fast last season but besides that, didn't really do much. He was told he needed to work with the Aeros and develop his offensive game, and that he did.

He started the season scoring 19 points in only 20 games, and with the Wild players starting to drop like flies, Wellman got the call. In his short stint, he produced 4 points in 7 games while playing on the second line alongside Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

While it is obvious he still needs alot more work on his game, its promising to see him finally producing on the stat sheet, because if he isn't, there isn't much more to his game.

8 - LW Brett Bulmer (Kelowna Rockets) 6-3 185lbs

UND.com - Link

quiet, mature player who does things the right way ... will look to raise his level of play again this season ... strong, stay-at-home defenseman who makes good decisions with the puck ... has good size and brings a physical presence to the lineup ... strong on his skates ... continues to improve all aspects of his game

So close!

According to numerous posters, Bulmer had a place locked on the 4th line due to his style of play: pissing off the opposing team. However, it was evident his role would be passed on to others as he was one of the last cuts from the camp.

However, Bulmer goes back to the WHL and will continue (hopefully) to rip it up in the WHL. From what I can tell, he is in the top ten with points/game and that is impressive for a guy who's offense isn't really his main game.

He is already signed to an NHL contract, has done well in his short stint with the Wild, so he'll come into camp next season looking for a permanent spot.

7 - C Charlie Coyle (Saint John Sea Dogs) 6-2 205lbs

Me via FirstRoundBust - Link

At first, wasn't too impressed at Coyle because I was expecting some great offensive game from it, but as the game progressed, I realized it just wasn't his style.

Standing at 6-2 207lbs, he looked big and used his size very effectively and efficiently. It was clear he was dominant physically; he would bully players easily. He would win battles along the boards, keep the cycle going, force loose pucks in the defensive zone or just give a good, solid hit.

He also displayed solid stickhandling skills and speed but nothing to gawk about. But had good hockey sense to make small, simple plays.

Overall, I question whether he can become a top line player because I just didn't see much offense from him but he definetly was dominant in using his size effectively and efficiently. Didn't make any unnecessary decisions. Could use 2/3 more years in college to develop some offense when BU top line center Corey Trivino leaves (he's a senior). Could develop a very good 2-3 centerman.

Boston University is a mess. They lost Corey Trivino after he was accused of sexual charges and now they lost Charlie Coyle following the dismissal. He leaves the team with a huge hole at center as he signs with the QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs, which is now stacked with Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Jurco, Nathan Beaulieu, and the Wild's very own Zack Phillips.

He's a big kid, knows how to use his body effectively, and has some impressive skating and decent offensive skills to back it up. He isn't really have that dynamic side to him that will cement his place on the top line but plays an overall solid game that can see him as a #2 or #3 center in the NHL.

6 - C Zack Phillips (Saint John Sea Dogs) 6-0 175lbs

Islanders Scout Mario Saraceno via islanders.nhl.com - Link

Phillips is a cerebral and creative centerman. He played with (Jonathan) Huberdeau (ranks third overall on Central Scouting) in St. John and had an excellent season. He handles the puck very well and has an excellent and precise wrist shot. He’s not physical or aggressive, but gets involved and battles for puck possession. He needs to improve overall skating and speed for next level.

And speaking of Zack Phillips, he is our #6 prospect.

Some might be going, "only #6?", but that just speaks volume about the depth the Wild have in the prospect pool. The thing that is keeping him out of the top 5 is his skating ability, which finally bit him hard when Team Canada decided to cut him in the first round of cuts.

Still, he has tons of offensive potential to make up for it. We've all seen Andrew Brunette make a decent NHL career with below average skating.

He continues to lead the Saint John Sea Dogs with 54 points in 32 games and will soon find Coyle joining him, cementing their future for another Memorial Cup run. Watch out!

Here is the updated rankings:


Rank Name Team League Change
1
2
3
4
5
6
Zack Phillips Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL 0
7
Charlie Coyle Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL -5
8
Brett Bulmer Kelowna Rockets WHL +7
9
Casey Wellman Minnesota Wild NHL +1
10
Johan Gustafsson
Lulea
SEL
New
11
Darcy Kuemper
Houston Aeros
AHL
+1
12
Justin Falk
Houston Aeros AHL
+1
13
Sean Lorenz Notre Dame CCHA New
14
Mario Lucia Penticton BCHL
+3
15
Cody Almond Minnesota Wild NHL
+3
16
Erik Haula U. of Minnesota WCHA
+3
17
Nate Prosser Houston Aeros
AHL
New
18
Kristopher Foucault Houston Aeros
AHL
New
19
David McIntyre Houston Aeros
AHL
New
20
Chay Genoway Houston Aeros AHL
0
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