Wild Prospect Depth Analysis: Left Wing

It is obvious the Wild lack top end talent at both center and right wing, but what about left wing?

The Wild have missed the presence of Marian Gaborik ever since he left the team. Andrew Brunette has helped bandage the pain but he is an expiring free agent.

Now we’ll take a look at the left wings:

Update: Thank you Nodak for revealing my idiocy and forgetting Jason Zucker.


Colton Gillies

#18 / Left Wing / Houston Aeros

6-3

207

Feb 12 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
64 11 15 26 2 82

great skater and is very quick ... has a big body ... very good on the forecheck ... excellent work ethic and attitude ... won the Sasktoon Blade's Most Community Minded Player Award (2008) and the MVP Award (2008) ... posses average hands ... needs to improve his shot ... needs to refine his play around the net.

Leading the Aeros in playoff goals with seven, Gillies post-season emergence has Wild fans seeing hope in what they presumed to be a bust.

After a whole season playing fourth line minutes and warming the seats for James Sheppard (wait, what?), Gillies was sent back down to the Aeros for the next two. While in the NHL, he showed top speed but looked like he didn’t know what to do with it. Now, he looks like he understands his role much more and focuses on what makes him a valuable asset: speed and physical play.

In his recent call-up to the Wild, Gillies managed to get one goal in 7 games, using his size to go in front of the net, fight off a defenseman and scored a spinning backhand.

Gillies will have a chance to crack the Wild roster next year during training camp since his speed and skill on the forecheck will be a very welcome addition.


Chad Rau

#75 / Left Wing / Houston Aeros

5-11

188

Jan 18 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
60 13 27 40 10 12

natural goal scorer ... great hockey sense ... quick accurate shot ... hustles on the ice ... soft spoken, got good leader ... excellent at faceoffs ... USHL Rookie of the Year Award (2005) ... second team All-America honors (2008) ... first team All-WCHA selection (2008) ... Colorado College Hockey's M.P Hooper Award (2008) ... not physical enough ... average skater ... first couple of steps needs improvement.

Tied for second with the Houston Aeros in playoff goals in six, Chad Rau has helped the Aeros reached the Calder Cup Finals, including the first goal in Game 7 versus the Hamilton Bulldogs.

After being signed by the Aeros and producing well for a rookie, the Wild inked him for a two-year deal and Rau has not disappointed.

His natural position being center, Rau is versatile to play wing and the Wild will love his ability to play anywhere they put him. He’ll come next year and try to prove he is worth a call-up.


Matt Kassian

#28 / Left Wing / Houston Aeros

6-5

245

Oct 28 1986



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Houston Aeros
60 4 4 8 0 132

Another big body in Houston, Matt Kassian plays the enforcer role with the Aeros.

Standing at 6’5" 245lbs, Kassian commands an immediate presence of the ice. However, his role is pretty much set as the enforcer so offense doesn’t come much.

In his four game callup to the Wild, he looked okay. He played very little icetime but managed to gather 12 penalty minutes as expected from his role. However, his time is running out and the need for a tough guy on the Wild roster isn’t in high demand.


Kris Foucault

#18 / Left Wing / Calgary Hitmen

6-1

202

Dec 12 1990



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Calgary Hitmen
65 25 23 48 -10 60

 

possess terrific hands ... has decent NHL size ... has a very good shot ... is able to get into scoring areas ... good hockey sense ... quick stick ... deceptively fast and agile ... questionable work ethic ... needs to shoot more ... one-dimensional ... needs to improve defensive play and consistency

The wildcard in the 2009 draft, the Wild selected Foucault based on his very hot playoff run.

Foucault has shown flashes of repeating that offense in the regular season but has done so in an inconsistent manner. The Wild have yet to sign the winger.


Brett Bulmer

#19 / Left Wing / Kelowna Rockets

6-3

175

Apr 26 1990




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Kelowna Rockets
57 18 31 49 -13 109






 

plays an up-tempo, physical game ... excels at protecting the puck ... strong along the boards and in the corners ... good at playing through traffic ... good skater for his size ... good at faceoffs ... prefers to pass rather than shoot ... has an accurate, but not overly fast shot ... doesn't mind to fight ... three years ago, was only 5-6 ... won the Kelowna Rockets Most Improved Player Award (2010) ... lacks strength, even for juniors ... needs to improve hockey sense ... average speed ... needs to improve defensive play ... played only one full season of juniors, considered quite raw.

Drafted as a lanky winger but with a good frame and with an aggressive game, Brett Bulmer came into camp and immediately got into fights with several Wild players. Good job!

Bulmer increased his point totals by nine in eight less games than last season, which is impressive. However, he has the team’s worst plus/minus rating with a minus 12.

One of his biggest flaws coming into the season was his defensive play and it continues to show. He will have to continue adding muscle and improve his play in his own zone if he wants to become a top six Wild player.

 


Jason Zucker

#17 / Left Wing / U. of Denver

5-10

175

Jan 16 1992




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - U. of Denver
40 23 22 45 59






 

defensively responsible ... positionally sound ... very good on the forecheck ... uses his stick effectively ... very versatile ... good penalty skiller ... doesn't shy from physical play ... contributes on the backcheck ... good skater ... decent offensive instincts ... good shot ... high character ... three gold medals for USA in one year (2010) ... needs to get stronger ... lacks explosive speed

The Wild traded up in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to ensure they selected Jason Zucker. So far, the move seems to have paid off.

The energetic winger was named WCHA Rookie of the Year, so its nice to see offense becoming a big part of his game when originally projected to be a top nine forward. In addition, he continues to join Team USA and plays during the World Junior Championships as a veteran.

The Wild must be impressed by his three gold medals, one silver medal and his Rookie of the Year award. Watch Zucker take up a leadership role with the 2011-12 WJC USA Team.


Erik Haula

#19 / Left Wing / U. of Minnesota

5-10

184

Mar 23 1991




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - U. of Minnesota
34 6 18 24 22






 

makes hard, accurate passess ... great vision and poise ... able to find the scoring areas ... possess a hard, quick shot ... likes to play a high-tempo game ... forechecks well ... very agile ... very good skater, smooth and fast ... plays in all situations (PP, PK, even) ... has solid muscle mass ... one of the best USHL forwards during 2009-10 season ... a little undersized.

Not much has been heard about Erik Haula since he became a Minnesota Gopher but he has quietly put up a solid rookie year.

Tied third in team scoring with 24 points, Haula has the ability to become the Wild’s steal in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.


Johan Larsson

#10 / Left Wing / Brynas IF Gavle

5-10

198

July 25, 1992




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Brynas IF Gavle
43 4 4 8 3
18






 

very good defensively ... good hockey sense and on-ice vision ... doesn't shy physically ... good penalty killer ... works well along the boards ... physically solid ... hard-working intelligent player ... only recently started to show explosive offensive ability ... Swedish captain at the World U-18 Tournament ... average skater ... needs to develop consistency.

Johan Larsson recently signed an NHL entry-level deal with the Wild, proving how much faith they have in the kid.

The versatile forward played for his professional team in Sweden as a rookie and didn’t see much icetime. However, as the season winded down, his icetime doubled and he started to produce more offensively.

The Wild love his ability to play center and his two-way play and will keep a close eye on his development when he goes back to Sweden, which is the more likely case.


Jere Sallinen

Left Wing / Blues

6-0

183

Oct 26, 1990




GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2010 - Blues
55 6 8 14 5
28






 

high energy game ... plays with alot of grit ... good skater .. plays well in traffic ... already suffered numerous injuries ... reckless style make him susceptible to injuries.

Not much is known about Jere Sallinen except that he is a physical winger that is projected to be a bottom six winger.

However, there has been little indication by the Wild that they have any interest in pursuing Sallinen and he will have to be signed by June if the Wild want to retain his rights.

Summary

It is great to see the 2010 Draft class looking promising with Johan Larsson and Brett Bulmer. Erik Haula also looks like a good pick by the Wild and Jason Zucker continues to impress. These prospects have the potential to be top nine forwards for the team.

In addition, Colton Gillies, Chad Rau and Matt Kassian are developing well and can possibly become bottom six forwards.

However, the lack of top end talent is not exempt from left wing. None of these prospects have that game-breaking potential that Wild would love to have. However, there is depth and that is a nice change of scenery for many Wild fans.

In the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, possibly Wild picks include Sven Baertschi, who offers an impressive wrist shot and who plays on the left wing. The Wild will have to think long and hard on whehter Baertschi is the one they want.

What do you think?

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