3 WHL Forwards the Wild Should Consider Drafting on Day Two

Marissa Baecker

Forwards Rourke Chartier of the Kelowna Rockets, Jaedon Descheneau of the Kootenay Ice, and Richard Nejezchleb of the Brandon Wheat Kings would be great additions to the Minnesota Wild prospect pool because they are more skilled than their NHL Central Scouting Ranks would suggest.

It's hard to find good draft picks outside the first round. The following three players are guys who I'd be happy if the Wild drafted. Failing that, I'd prefer them to be drafted by teams outside of Conference III because these guys should be ranked higher than NHL Central Scouting has them. Each player also fits the Wild's identity in that they are hard working and have high compete levels.

Rourke Chartier

The thing I like most about Chartier is that he's always working. He's uses his speed and agility to avoid checks; he's slippery. His compete level and skating level make him a great penalty killer. Because he is always doing something, he is a fun player to watch.

Future Considerations has him ranked 78th and Central Scouting has him ranked 136th of North American skaters. He should be drafted higher than Central Scouting suggests. One reason he could be so far back on draft rankings is because he's smallish. Some have his height at 5'11', but I think that may be being generous. Scouts also report that he does not have elite offensive skills, but with 33 goals and 37 assists last year for the dominant Kelowna Rockets, he did more than okay offensively.

Future Considerations says this about his game:

"Chartier is a skilled forward with a high work ethic. He shows impressive quickness and excellent overall skating ability. He makes opposing players miss and has the hands to carry the puck into the opposition zone. He possesses great vision and is smart with/without the puck. Only issue is lack of size and game to game consistency."

This player profile was filmed during Chartier's first season with Kelowna.

Jaedon Descheneau

This small right wing was passed over in last year's draft, after a season where he scored 78 points. This year he responded by scoring 44 goals and notching 54 assists, which was enough points to be tied for 6th overall in the WHL scoring race. Playing on a line with possible first overall pick Sam Reinhart certainly didn't hurt Daescheneau's stats, but Descheneau is certainly good enough to play with his skilled linemate.

He is a fast skater. His biggest weakness is his 5'9" frame, but his small size doesn't stop him from going to the front of the net. He's got that remarkable ability that some smaller players do to become forgotten by defenders even when he's standing in the most dangerous spot on the ice. Being small also allows him to dodge checks of bigger players.  I would love to see the Wild take a chance on this little winger because it's clear that he knows how to score, but he also knows when to pass if the situation calls for it.

With his skills and scoring touch, Descheneau could be the next Brendan Gallagher, a player who was drafted late who would make a great addition to any team. The only reason Descheneau isn't a prized prospect in an NHL organization already is because of his size. He's shown that he can be successful in the WHL, and I'd love to see the Wild be the team to give him a chance.

Descheneau is ranked 95th of North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting, so he will most likely be available for late picks. The Wild could certainly use more organizational depth at right wing. If Descheneau can continue to perform at higher levels, he would be worth the risk.

This video contains highlights of Descheneau's three goal, three assist game versus Saskatoon last February. He wears 14 in white.

Richard Nejezchleb

They say you can't teach size, and Nejezchleb is a player who wouldn't need lessons if size could be taught. At 6'2" and 210 lbs, he already has enough weight and strength to play pro hockey. This year is his third year of NHL draft eligibility, which means that he's eligible for the AHL next year because he has a 1994 birthday.  In his first year of draft eligibility he was ranked 40th of European skaters, and last year he sustained a shoulder injury that kept him out of play for most of the season, so he had limited opportunity to show his skills.

He's got a fair amount of speed and agility for such a big man. He uses his speed to get close to the net, and even if his shots are not always dangerous, they get on the net. Because of his size, he looks fast, even if he doesn't accelerate particularly quickly. And he has the ability to skate around or through defense.

He does need to learn to use his size more, and add more physicality to his game. The biggest concern scouts have with Nejezchleb is that his success this season is due to his age. Since he is two years older than most other 2014 draft candidates, it isn't really fair to compare his stats to others players. However, because he is an older prospect, it is easier for teams to see exactly what they may be getting--a power forward type of player with a lot of strength and agility.

Nejezchleb is number 18 in the black and gold unis. At the 15 second mark, he swoops around future NHL defenseman Griffin Reinhart.

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