The job of Wild Assistant GM Brent Flahr (who runs the Wild's draft table) and the rest of the Wild's scouting staff can't be easy these days. Various trades have left the Wild without their first pick in 2013, their second pick in 2014, and their third pick in this year's draft. And it's not getting easier, with the Wild shipping away their next two second-rounders.
With so many picks being shipped out, the Wild will need to be able to find value in the late rounds to keep up with the rest of the league. Fortunately, the Wild have been able to find and take fliers on intriguing prospects in the later stages of the draft, several which will be profiled in our Top-25 Under-25 series.
Center Christoph Bertschy is one such late-round flier, being selected in the 6th round in 2012, and had been very quiet heading into this year, scoring a meager 20 points in 78 games (over 2 years) in the Swiss League. Even playing against men, that's not the production that suggests a player with an NHL future.
Bertschy re-established his stock as a prospect last year, beginning to flourish under former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher. After starting the season slow, Bertschy took a second-line role and ran with it, scoring 19 points in 19 games from October 14th to December 12th. His season was derailed by an ankle injury that he suffered in January which put him out until the playoffs.
Hockey's Futurehas a glimpse of what Bertschy offers in terms of skill-set:
Bertschy is a gifted offensive player with above-average puck skills and excellent speed. One of the more promising players taken in the 2012 draft, he likely slid to the latter rounds over concerns about his size, willingness to put in the time to train and add strength and bulk, and the lack of physical play in his game.
Dan Chan, formerly of Hockey Wilderness also offered this when Bertschy was drafted:
He had a great year in Switzerland and was a key player for their WJC team. He has very good hands, creativity, and a dangerous shot. He plays with energy in the offensive zone and is extremely agile. The problem is, if it isn't in the offensive zone, that energy and drive goes away.
There've been concerns about his defense, but I would imagine that some semblance of effort in your own zone would be a requirement to play significant minutes for Boucher, a man whose commitment to defensive play once led to this happening.
The Wild signed Bertschy to a pro contract in April, and he'll be expected to play in Iowa next season. We'll start to find out the answer to the biggest question about him as a prospect- whether he will be able to translate his game to North America's smaller ice and larger emphasis on physical play. He's far from making the Minnesota Wild, but Bertschy's skills, age (he turned 21 in May), and production against men last season is intriguing enough for him to crack this year's Top-25 Under-25.