So far in our countdown of the Wild's top young players, we've focussed on prospects who have great potential but not a lot of experience and are therefore an unknown quantity. Today's pick, however, moves us into more familiar territory. Most fans are familiar with Brett Bulmer, the big right winger drafted 39th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
It's easy to forget that Bulmer is still only 22 since he made his NHL debut at only 19. He played nine games in 2011 before being sent back to the WHL. He played five games with the club last year but a string of injuries have blocked his emergence as a full-time NHL player. He's missed large chunks of games in his last two years in the AHL.
That being said, Bulmer is looking to put injuries behind him and make the Wild's roster out of camp this year. Given his talent and style of play, he has a legitimate chance to make his dream a reality. Those who have seen him play know that the he is a hard working forward who can be an effective agitator. He's has good size at 6'4'' and uses his body to be strong on the boards and hit with force. He's also not one to shy away from a fight. Here's a quick look at his stats:
Bulmer is the type of player that fits well in Mike Yeo's system. First and foremost, he plays an aggressive and sound defensive game. In some ways he's to former Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck. However Bulmer's skills go beyond hitting and playing defense. He skates well and has a scoring upside that could really take him a whole new level. In his final year in the WHL, Bulmer put up 62 points in 53 games for the Kelowna Rockets. Here's a video from March 2012 where he had a two point night:
If Bulmer can bring that scoring touch to the NHL, he will be a great two-way player. He's also able to play both sides of center.
Injuries. And more injuries. Last season had the potential to be his breakout year, but he missed training camp because of a knee injury. Later in the season when the Wild needed forward depth, Bulmer was unable to play. It's hard to say if his injury history is the result of his aggressive style of play or just bad luck. If it's the former, Bulmer will have to find a way to adjust his game to better fit the NHL.
If Bulmer can have a productive training camp, he could slot in on the third or fourth line. He can play a high energy game like that of Stephane Veilleux, only with a much better upside on offense. That being said, the Wild's roster is crowded and Bulmer will have to beat out established NHL players for a roster spot. It's likely he will begin the year in Iowa, but expect him to be called up early if there are injuries. It will be interesting to see how Bulmer's game develops if he's able to play in the NHL for a consistent amount of time. If not this year, he is still under contract until 2015.