Wait... why is a Wild prospect wearing a USA jersey? Mind = blown.
We asked the Wilderness what they would like to read in the dog days of summer. One of the best suggestions came from "TheBlackFreighter," who suggested allowing the Wilderness to rank their own top 20 prospects in the Wild organization. We will do this the way we did the draft posts, giving you a handful of prospects to choose from, and offering the comment section to provide anyone you think may be missing at any point in the rankings.
We could have gone with a top 20 count down, but we decided to just jump head long into the top prospect. Why not start with the most exciting, right? After the jump, the first batch of prospects and a very brief history of them. Make sure you vote and make your case in the comment section. We hope you enjoy.
Charlie Coyle - Boston University
Coyle, of course, came over to the Wild in the Brent Burns trade made at this year's draft. Chuck Fletcher is on the record saying the trade would not have happened if Coyle was not part of it. The soon-to-be-sophomore earned Hockey East rookie of the year honors with 26 points (7G, 19A) in 37 games. While those may not seem like astronomical numbers, they make for a great first season. No one thinks his numbers do anything but go up as he becomes more and more relied upon by the teams he plays for.Coyle is likely not NHL ready, but could very well wind up in the AHL after next season, depending on his performance this season and where all involved feel his development is best served.
Mikael Granlund - HIFK
If you are looking for an objective opinion, you may not find one for Granlund among the Wild fan base. So many people putting so much faith in such a young kid can't possibly be healthy. That said, he has dazzled with his play in the Finnish Elite League and international play. He has elected to spend this coming season in Finland while wrapping up his studies and military responsibility. If he is the next coming of the Koivus is yet to be seen, but if the desire for him to become a star is enough, the guy is in for an amazing career.
Casey Wellman - Houston Aeros
After landing the top college free agent prize last summer, the Wild sent their prize to Houston to further develop. He also got a taste of NHL action, and performed admirably in the role he was given. Wellman looks to be a top six forward, which in the Wild organization is still not loaded with top end talent, but is suddenly rather crowded. Wellman has proven he deserves his chance, and with Mike Yeo behind the bench, maybe Wellman gets the first call up to fill an injury hole in the top six.
Marco Scandella - Houston Aeros
The debate last season was which Wild defensive prospect was at the top of the list. With Scandella's play, and Tyler Cuma's injury, there is no further debate. Scandella has the unfortunate and completely unfair title of "Brent Burns replacement." Hopefully fans can keep in mind that d-men take a long time to develop, and not put undue pressure on the kid to be Burns right away. It is certainly time for the depth at the blue line to show its value, but at the same time, don't expect any of them to magically become Norris trophy candidates. Scandella is the top defensive prospect, but where does that put him on the list overall?
Jonas Brodin - Fargestads
The first of the 2011 NHL Draftees to make the poll, Brodin was impressive at Wild development camp. Brodin's skating has been praised, hearing words like "skates like the wind." I'm still not sure how the wind skates, but if it's good, then so be it. He is not an offensive d-man by any means, so his defensive and puck moving abilities better justify his 10th overall draft position. We don't have much to work with on Brodin, but he has to be considered near the top of the prospect rankings, if only because he is the newest member of the top first round pick club for the Wild.
Matt Hackett - Houston Aeros
Hackett took the starting goalie job in Houston as his own after Anton Khudobin was traded. All Hackett did from then on was backstop the Aeros to the Calder Cup finals. His form is solid, his technique quiet. Hackett is the de facto starter in Houston next season, but with Darcy Kuemper and his 7215 awards from last season coming in, there will be competition. Hackett is the top goalie prospect, but nothing says that lasts through this season. Should be fun to watch how it plays out.
We'll add some bios to the list later in the week. For now, get your vote in for the Wild's top prospect. We'll give this poll until Wednesday at 11:59PM. Don't forget to make your case in the comments and try to convince your fellow Wild fans why they should vote for your guy.