The Wild has lacked a goal-scoring prospect ever since the selection of Marian Gaborik ... that was 13 years ago. Think about that. I feel super old.
The Wild boast an impressive group of playmakers (Mikeal Granlund, Zach Phillips) and powerforwards (Charlie Coyle, Brett Bulmer) but don't have a prospect that can consistently put the puck in the net. While Jason Zucker loves to shot, I would still group him more into the powerforward category who speciality is the physical and gritty side of the game.
We need to find a partner for Mikael Granlund when he finally cements himself into the Wild lineup and need someone who can compliment his game. The player doesn't necessarily have to be speedy since Granlund himself is not speedster but we do need a player with a quick release and a player that can withstand the NHL grit; we don't need Granlund AND the new prospect to struggle getting into the offensive zone.
So who do we have this 2013 draft?
Although our earliest pick is only a second, we all know GM Chuck Fletcher isn't afraid to pull the trigger so I will include possible late first rounders as well from this list.
RW/C Curtis Lazar - Edmonton (WHL)
This versatile forward has been rated a first round pick this entire season but his lack of clear offensive upside could potentially have him drop to the end of the first round and even possibly into the second. Teams love prospects with huge upside and that is the only thing Lazar has in question.
Lazar fits the Wild style of play like a glove. Versatile, beast on the forecheck, hardworking and compliments it all with a surprisingly quick release.
LW Adam Tambellini - Surrey (BCHL)
I was able to watch Tambellini numerous times this season and I will admit, he kept leaving me wanting more. He has strong strides and a 6-4 frame but gets pushed around by small and tiny defensemen.
But he racks up the points. And why? Because he knows where to be to grab those loose pucks and quick passes around the net, Mikael Granlund's speciality.
He just knows how to score. He isn't a sniper or a net crasher but he is a player that has the goal-scorers instinct and the ability to identify those soft scoring areas. But what makes him such an interesting prospect is that he offers more potential than just great scoring abilities; he has the frame, skating and reach to also develop a powerforward game and combine that with scoring potential and you have a potential home-run pick.
LW Morgan Klimchuk - Regina (WHL)
Klimchuk seems to be flying under-the-radar this draft season even though he scored 36 goals in the WHL and had an impressive showing during the U-18 tournament.
Although he is undersized and doesn't have elite evasive skills, Klimchuk has some very strong straight forward skating speed as well as quick directional movements and understanding on how to sneak into the scoring areas. In addition, he has the ability to get the shot quickly and accurately and under pressure.
Despite his size, he battles for the puck and works hard for his space although his effectiveness could be debated.
LW Oliver Bjorkstrand - Portland (WHL)
Another undersized offensive goal-scorer who works hard for the puck, Bjorkstrand can turn on the jets in an instance and has the quick and heavy release to compliment it. He really is a danger on the rush; remember Marian Gaborik when he gets going? Think that but younger.
But there is a huge difference between the two players: Bjorkstrand is undersized and lacks muscle. If he isn't on the rush, he works hard along the boards but is easily neutralized because of his lack of strength. If he isn't putting his speed on, he is easily caught along the boards.
But scoring 31 goals in the WHL is no easy task and that should count for something.