All of the players on the Iowa Wild had rough seasons, and the rookies probably had the worst time of it because they didn't have a large history of positive professional experiences to keep them going in a season that saw their team realistically eliminated from the playoffs in early December. In spite of that, I am interested to see how all of these prospects develop in their sophomore season. Iowa’s rookies may have had limited success this year, but it was not because of low effort level on the part of any rookie player. All of these rookies (with the exception of Keranen) are RFAs at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, so they will have some time to develop before the organization will need to make decisions based on their performance.
Zack Mitchell had a pretty decent year with Iowa in a year that not many players had success. As the season winds down, he has 17 goals and 17 assists, which is third on the team in scoring behind Graovac and Keranen. Mitchell has been an every situation player, playing mostly 1st or 2nd line minutes, and has been as effective as expected in these roles.
Brady Brassart is probably disappointed that he only scored 7 goals and tallied 11 assists in his first professional season after having an 85 point season in his last year with the Calgary Hitmen. But the pro game is very different and he made strides towards the end of the season, looking more comfortable, and taking a larger role on the team. He embraced a penalty killing role and applied a workman-like attitude to his play.
While Gabriel was not the "sure fire call up" he had been predicted to be in the pre-season, he did have a better start to the season than many of the Iowa Wild rookies. With 2 goals and an assist in his first ten games, he did show that he can tally the occasional point in addition to dropping his gloves. After the first ten games, he had a twenty game point drought when a few points in a few games could have gone a long way to making the team more competitive. He still needs more development before he will be useful to the Minnesota Wild, but I hope he continues to take a larger role on the Iowa Wild next year.
Gelinas’ first professional season was shortened by injuries. Playing only 37 games this year, he scored 2 goals and 2 assists. Like most of the team, he is probably disappointed with his season, but it is hard to adjust to the increased skill and physicality of the AHL while being beset by injuries.
The younger brother of Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson, Alex had his rookie season shortened by injury just like his teammate Gelinas. While healthy, he was a physical presence on the blueline, and I don’t mean physical as a fighter. He only had one fight this year and was still a hard hitting, difficult to play against presence.
While Keranen isn't a rookie in the traditional sense, he maybe had the hardest transition of the all the players who were new to the AHL because of his transition to the North America style of game. I hope he comes back next year, but after sticking with the disastrous Iowa Wild season without playing a single minute of NHL action, I wouldn't blame him if he decided to return to Finland to play next year. He was one of the best players on a squad that did a lot of losing. He was a mainstay on the power play, and the incredibly low scoring Iowa Wild would have been much worse without the 10 goals and 27 assists he posted this year.