The developmental camp is more than just an information session for the Wild's prospects.
Last season's invitees that were signed were Josh Caron, Justin Fontaine, and of course Jared Spurgeon. From 2009, the Wild signed Jarod Palmer. From 2008, the Wild signed Bjorn Krupp.
To some, this week-long event has become more of a job interview than a relaxed learning experience. Many of those includes the camp invitees. And since we have gone into depth in many of the Wild prospects, I think a good we should just spend our time on the new faces, who in a few months, could be wearing a Wild jersey.
College names J.T Brown, Jack Connolly, and Derik Johnson were already introduced by our own Bruce Ciskie. Click this link to take a look:
The rest of the invitees remain a bit unknown.
Not much is known about Burns, except that he has an awesome last name. He has played alongside the Vancouver Giants top players with Craig Cunningham and Brendan Gallagher, as well as on a line alongside brother Michael Burns.
Obviously, he has not put up impressive numbers, but he has had tried to play through injuries suffered last season as well as the beginning of the season. Also, it seems, amongst Giants fans, he is viewed as a skilled player that can give the Giants some secondary scoring but his line's inconsistency is a bit worrying.
But that is why he's undrafted and the Wild want to take a look at him and see if he warrants an entry-level deal and perhaps a steal. Never hurts.
On the otherside of the spectrum, Kramer has acted as one of the Princeton Tiger's veteran leaders, leaving his college after playing four full years. Now, he'll be looking to further his hockey career into the pros.
During this year's team banquet, Kramer co-won the Tucker Ironman Award, which is awarded to those that have great off-season preparation and physical commitment. He also made the ECAC 2nd All-Star team after leading the Tigers with 13 goals.
Kramer seems to have a similar story to Houston Aeros Jarod Palmer, who signed with the Minnesota Wild after an impressive senior year. Maybe Kramer too?
The Portland Winterhawks have some superstars in the waiting, including Swiss forwards Nino Niedereiter and Sven Baerstchi, but there are some that just good role players, like Taylor Peters.
Peters has the 6-3 size, defensive play and character (apparently a very good student) to become a potential checking center. He isn't afraid to mix it up as well, fighting the Wild's future agitator Brett Bulmer and large Tri-City defender Sam Grist (6-4, 210lbs).
Peters may not be auditioning for a top six forward spot with the Wild but if he impresses in camp, he could a place in organization developing into a cheap, young option on the bottom two lines.
Drafted 11th overall in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, there was some hope Sandlak would have some offensive upside to his game, developing into a dangerous powerforward. That hasn't happened so far, but he still has some nice tools that can make him into a bottom six forward.
He is a two-way forward that doesn't mind grinding it out for the puck and doesn't mind dropping the gloves once in awhile. His offensive upside is suspect but can play a simple, physical game. That toughness could be interesting to see since signing him costs no draft picks and only a signature.
The most interesting name on the list, Kyle Thomas comes out of nowhere. Norwich D3 School? Really? Who decided to send a Wild scout to watch those games? Interesting use of man power.
But take a look at some of these comments found on the USCHO Fan Forum:
"Anyways, #15 Freshman Kyle Thomas is an incredible hockey player. What is he doing playing d3 hockey?"
"Yes - Thomas must be a serious late bloomer. I did a little more digging and discovered that he played public high school hockey in Massachusetts (Waltham HS), where he received no great accolades. And then after finishing HS, he played one extra year in the EJ, where he scored only 27 points. There is not much in his background that would have predicted how good a college player he is.."
Waawhhaat? As a freshman, he lead Norwich to the schools third national title, with 23 goals in 31 games. He was also named ECAC East Rookie of the Year. As a sophmore, he was an honorable mention for the All-Star teams.
So while many of us focus on D1 schools and don't know Thomas's name, he seems to be quite a big name amongst D3 schools. He is will becoming a junior and will continue building on his success, maybe even end up in a Wild jersey.
It must be an extremely joyful experiencing being selected by an NHL team during the NHL Entry Draft. At the same time, it must be an extremely hurtful experience watching 30 NHL teams pass on you through 200+ picks. Dylan Willick was such a prospect, but comes into the Wild camp hopeful.
One reason he was skipped over was due to his lack of size (5-10, 184lbs) but he is a quick, forechecking forward. He is one of those guys you put on an energy line. He has the hockey smarts and tenacity to become a hassle of teams. He also put up 44 points in 72 games, helping providing the Kamloops Blazers with secondary scoring.
With the direction that the Wild is going, featuring hardworking, forechecking players on the bottom six (Gillies, Bulmer, Clutterbuck, Powe), Willick might find his place in Minnesota.
Not much seems to stand out for Busenius. Plays decent in all areas but is struggling for regular ice-time with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He is a long-term project that can play hard and solid but needs to find a way to get some quality minutes with his junior team if he wants to continue developing.
Has put up a silently decent game with the Houston Aeros. Best said from our friends at The Third Intermission:
really hasn't gotten as much credit as he probably deserves for being a solid stay at home d-man
He will be returning to Houston this upcoming season, possibly on the third pair behind Justin Falk, Jeff Penner, Drew Bagnall, and Nate Prosser. Why not invite him to development camp and see what he's got?
He saw one game with the Houston Aeros after signing with them late in the season. I guess I will bring you to our friends at First Round Bust where they analyzed Lofquist extensively:
Lofquist would sign an Amateur Tryout Agreement with Houston when Guelph's season ended; the article is a tad old, but Guelph lost to Saginaw in the opening round of the OHL playoffs, but there hasn't been anything on the AHL transaction page. It's been reported that Chuck Fletcher is looking on adding more CHL and NCAA free agents, and Lofquist looks like he'll get his chance to impress on a playoff-bound Houston squad.
What a first year for David Makowski. Playing for the Denvers Pioneers that stars Wild prospect Jason Zucker, Makowski managed to find a way to score 30 points in 41 games. In addition, he was voted to the WCHA All-Star Rookie Team alongside Zucker.
After drafting Zucker, who has been a great success for the Wild, doesn't hurt to add another talented Denver rookie star to the Wild team. But lets see what he has during camp before we do anything.
As you can tell, I am wildly optimisitic about this group of invitees, but can you blame me?
After finding a gem in Jared Sprugeon and reading all the profiles on these invitees, I can't help but think there might be a future NHLer in one of the. And I very much like the Wild's new direction in trying to restock its prospect pool. Why spend draft picks when you can sign kids the same age but with just a pen and paper?
You can bet that this camp will be one of the most interesting camps the Wild has had in awhile. Keep an eye out. One of the might be in a Wild jersey sooner than later.