There are a few benchmarks that we look to when tracking the progression (regression?) of the Minnesota Wild. The drafting of Mikael Granlund, the trade for Dany Heatley, the signing of Casey Wellman.
Wellman was the first big splash in the college market that Chuck Fletcher made. It was a complete reversal from the previous regime, and gave Wild fans some small degree of hope that college players were now back in play. He was on the kiss cam with his parents, he showed up in a suit and tie that looked like it had been picked up at Sears the night before. Everything looked to be the perfect story for the rebuilding of a franchise.
Then, the wheels came off, and eventually Wellman was shipped out for Erik Christensen. Was his time here enough for some good grades? Or did the initial luster wear off?
#0 / Center / New York Rangers
Oct 18, 1987
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Nathan- Again, Bryan gets 2 F's today.
Bryan- Oh, young Mr. Wellman. Such hope you brought with you to Wild fans. The signing of the big college free agent, the beacon of light and goodness for so many. Then, it turned out, you just didn't seem to have it. Another X factor missing. Did he get the time he needed in the top 6? Can he make a career in the bottom 6? It certainly seems that the Rangers wanted him pretty badly. Maybe he can find his groove there. For the Wild... a flop.
Jesse- Tough to fail Wellman, but when I look at the body of work, I'm just disappointed with what I see. Wellman had early opportunities to crack the lineup under Todd Richards with a pretty weak Top-9 set of forwards. Maybe it was Richards and poor coaching that kept him out of the NHL. Believable.
Enter Yeo...same results. Yeo coached him in Houston, so he knew what Wellman could do, and yet when Yeo made the transition to the NHL, Wellman still couldn't get regular minutes. Even with the depleted forward group, Wellman never found a way to get into a Top-6 role. It started to look like it wasn't just poor coaching by TR that kept Wellman out of the show. Two separate coaches both agreed that Wellman wasn't more than a 4th-line guy in the NHL. Unfortunately, it's starting to look like another case where a kid was dynamic in college, but once the speed and size of the competition increased, the dynamic play looked pedestrian at best.
JS - Wellman was great when he took a spot on the 2nd line, but then, you guessed it: injury. With Wellman, it'll always be a ''what could have been'' situation. He's one of the first acquistions Fletcher made that gave hope to the fanbase. Now, he's in New York. We all knew he wasn't suited for bottom line duty, but that's usually what he was given. Too good to be in the AHL, not good enough to be in the NHL. Shame, but hey, we got Christensen / a 7th round pick. That's something, right?