The Minnesota Wild made their first round of roster cuts out of training camp on Monday and are expected to make more cuts soon, with Michael Russo reporting that the team wants to be trimmed down close to their opening night roster by the time the team heads to Duluth on Sunday.
That initial round of cuts included 2015 late round draft pick Gustav Bourraman, who impressed ESPN prospect expert Corey Pronman during the Traverse City Prospects Tournament earlier this month.
The 18-year-old Swede will return to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL, where he scored five goals and 44 points through 67 games in his 17-year-old season. In addition to playing in the OHL this season, Bouramman has a good chance of making an appearance with the Swedish team at the 2016 World Junior Championship, taking place in Helsinki, Finland.
Also cut were 2014 sixth round draft picks Chase Lang and Reid Duke. Both have two years of junior eligibility remaining and took large steps forward in their development last year. Lang over doubled his offensive production last season on a solid Calgary Hitmen squad, putting up 25 goals and 31 assists in 63 games.
Duke thrived following a trade away from the terrible Lethbridge Hurricanes to a stacked Brandon Wheat Kings, where his minus-47 was far from a team-worst in the 2013-14 season. He put up 20 goals and 31 assists through 52 games for Brandon and should take on a larger role this season.
Both players have the potential to surprise the Wild down the road if they continue to develop this season.
2014 fifth rounder Tanner Faith will also spend another year in juniors developing. Faith is an interesting player and while he hasn't put in an All-Star performance at either Wild camp he's been involved in, his return to the WHL was a foregone conclusion based on the Wild's roster. To not go back to juniors he'd have to make the NHL squad or get an exception a la Julius Honka to go to the AHL. Neither were ever in the cards.
The Wilcox, Saskatchewan-born defender was drafted as a high upside pick, but hasn't had much of a chance to prove what that upside could be in juniors with injuries thwarting both of his last two seasons, over which he's played a combined 29 games.
Hunter Warner, the 6-foot-4, 209 pound 19-year-old defenseman from Cambridge, Minnesota, was also returned to his junior club. Warmer was signed as an undrafted free agent out of camp last year, but wound up missing most of the season with his Prince Albert Raiders following an injury.
Warner is a big body defenseman who hasn't shown a lot of offensive upside. Last season was his first in the WHL, following two seasons in the USHL. Warner is deep down the defensive depth chart, providing more organizational depth than a defender who is likely to be seeing game action in Xcel any time soon.
Jack Walker, who was in camp on an amateur tryout, was also cut. Walker was invited to camp after a strong showing as an invite at Traverse City. Pronman tweeted out at one point that Walker was the most impressive free agent in the tournament. The Minnesota-native returns to the Victoria Royals of the WHL without a contract, but may have made a strong enough impression to get another look next summer if he doesn't get a contract or a tryout offer elsewhere.
The Wild have their second preseason game Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets at 7pm.