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Dmitri Sokolov Could Be The Standout Player The Wild Need

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Dmitri Sokolov didn't have an explosive year, but what about next year?

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

Dmitri Sokolov is one the of the Wild’s most intriguing prospects, and for good reason. Most fans who recognize his name know that he started off last season projected as a first round pick, some even placed him as a top 10 pick, as reported by Michael Russo. Conditioning concerns caused his stock to fall all the way to the seventh round. It was reported that he was clearly not in shape in an interview, and Fletcher noted he had a bad shoulder all year. Despite his poor conditioning and bad shoulder, Sokolov still managed to lead all rookies in the OHL with 30 goals and finished fourth in total points among rookies with 52 points.

If teams believed his conditioning affected him so much that he fell six rounds in the draft, imagine what he can do when properly conditioned. As reported by Russo, Fletcher was very focused on making sure Sokolov had the right guidance to oversee his conditioning, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Sokolov to be properly conditioned for this upcoming season. In fact, many Wild fans are already familiar with how conditioning can drastically affect a player’s performance. Erik Haula’s poor conditioning, largely attributed to injuries, affected his own performance in the 2014-2015 season which had a part in him being placed firmly in Mike Yeo’s doghouse. However, with proper conditioning and good coaching (and playing with Nino Niederreiter), Erik Haula was able to have a noticeably better season this past year.

While there are a few Wild fans who are pessimistic about Sokolov developing into at least a Top 9 player, there are a few who are very optimistic towards that possibility. This isn’t unreasonable. Even if he can figure out his conditioning, what are the chances that a player passed over so many times can actually become a useful player, much less a superstar? This is where it gets interesting. While certainly many players who only score 52 points in their 17 year old season or rookie seasons don’t become superstars, there are quite a few notable examples where such players went on to score well in the NHL. Enough that the idea of Sokolov following suit isn’t unreasonable.

(All following stats obtained from Elite Prospects)

Player

Age at the beginning of OHL Rookie Season

Total Pts in OHL Rookie Season

Highest Pt Total in One NHL Season

Sokolov, Dmitri

17

52

NA

Saad, Brandon

18

55

53

Simmonds, Wayne

18

49

60

Stewart, Chris

17

30

64

Neal, James

17

44

81

Trocheck, Vincent

17

43

53

Foligno, Nick

17

38

73

Domi, Max

16

49

52

Fabbri, Robby

16

33

37

Spooner, Ryan

16

58

49

Duchene, Matt

16

50

70

O’Reilly, Ryan

16

52

64

Monahan, Sean

16

47

63

Landeskog, Gabriel

16

46

65

Sokolov’s conditioning affected his performance and outlook so much that he dropped six rounds in the draft, but he will likely be well conditioned for this upcoming season. Despite his conditioning, Sokolov lead rookie players in goals in the OHL. In addition, Sokolov also has new avenues for advice from the Wild’s coaching and development staff for this coming season. There is also a precedent of players scoring less than him in their rookie OHL season while probably better conditioned and going on to score well in the NHL. Lastly and chiefly, Sokolov has the right attitude and motivation to put it all together and develop into a good player. Therefore, it’s fair to say that it’s more than reasonable to be fully optimistic about Sokolov becoming a standout player for the Wild.