The Minnesota Wild announced their roster for the annual Traverse City prospect tournament. Minnesota will be sending 15 of their own prospects to Traverse City, Michigan, as well as 10 non-roster invitees.
The Wild’s roster is notable for the talent that they are sending up front. The two biggest names are Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin. Eriksson Ek impressed in a cup of coffee with the Wild last season, and is expected to assume a two-way role in St. Paul this fall. Kunin wrapped up his collegiate career at Wisconsin last season, and immediately made an impact in the AHL, showing off a strong ability to get off shots.
That doesn’t represent all the forward talent heading to Michigan, though. Wild fans will be able to see Ivan Lodnia, Minnesota’s top draft pick of 2017. Lodnia didn’t put up huge numbers in the OHL, but was playing 3rd-line minutes for a stacked Erie Otters team. This may be a chance for him to assume more of a scoring role. Mason Shaw is another 2017 draftee that’ll be there. Shaw did put up huge numbers in the WHL, racking up 94 points in 71 games for Medicine Hat.
Another intriguing name will be Dmitry Sokolov. Sokolov has been elusive for these prospect events in the offseason, usually due to an ill-timed injury. But Sokolov shone last year in the OHL, powering the Sudbury Wolves to a playoff spot with 48 goals, which was good for 2nd in the league. It’ll be exciting to see Sokolov play in a Wild uniform.
Other intriguing names include a trio of unsigned draft picks getting a look with the Wild. Edina native Jack Walker is a prospect who has seemingly been on Minnesota’s radar forever. The offensive defenseman-turned-forward signed with Iowa (but is not under contract with Minnesota) after being unsigned by Toronto a year after the Leafs drafted him.
Giorgio Estephan is an offensive threat that Buffalo (who picked him in the 6th-round in 2015) declined to sign this summer. He put up 89 points in 68 games for the WHL’s Lethbridge. Minnesota may have come away impressed with Matthew Bradley while scouting his teammate, Shaw. Bradley scored over a point-per-game last season, but the 2015 5th-rounder didn’t earn a contract with Montreal.
On defense, that talent dries up somewhat. Gustav Bouramman is perhaps the best of the bunch on the blue line, but he took a step back offensively in Sault St. Marie last season. Carson Soucy will get some attention, as he turned pro after his championship game run with the UMD Bulldogs. Soucy scored just 15 points in his senior season at UMD, so there are some skeptics to whether he can translate into an NHL-caliber player. But the organization is high on him, and he will have an opportunity to log big minutes.
Jacob Golden is an intriguing name. The 2017 draftee was buried on an extremely deep London Knights team. If he can deliver the goods, the smooth-skater could take advantage of a good shot to earn a role in the tournament.
In net is Adam Vay, the Hungarian goalie Minnesota signed last offseason. Vay had some growing pains last season, posting just a .900 save percentage in the ECHL. But with a year of North American hockey under his belt, he could show improvement. Competing for the net will be Dereck Baribeau, a goalie whose size (6’5”) likely put him on the Wild’s radar. A good performance could convince the Wild to draft him next season, when he re-enters the draft.
Minnesota has done rather poorly in the past few of seasons, going 1-3 in Traverse City last season. It’s no coincidence that this lack of success has followed years of giving away high draft picks for the sake of winning now.
Admittedly, this isn’t something that actually matters. Sure, it’s a good measuring stick to where the organizational depth is, but a Tournament win isn’t going to magically make the Wild’s system deeper.
But still, after several months of no competitive hockey, it’s hard not to be desperate for any on-ice action. And the excitement that comes from watching talented players like Eriksson Ek, Kunin, and Sokolov will be a nice treat for Wild fans.
Here’s the full roster that the Wild released on their site:
Joel Eriksson Ek, #14
Dante Salituro, #45
Domenic Commisso, #48 (Invitee)
Giorgio Estephan, #49 (Invitee)
Mason Shaw, #52
Ivan Lodnia, #54
Adam Gilmour, #57
Joel Teasdale, #62 (Invitee)
Gerald Mayhew, #65 (Invitee)
Luke Kunin, #67
Matthew Bradley, #73 (Invitee)
Dmitry Sokolov, #74
Jack Walker, #78 (Invitee)
Pavel Jenys, #81
Justin Kloos, #82
Gustav Bouramman, #38
Jacob Golden, #61
Kevin Davis, #68 (Invitee)
Carson Soucy, #71
Brennan Menell, #72 (Invitee)
Braydyn Chizen, #75
Hunter Warner, #79
Artem Minulin, #80 (Invitee)
Dereck Baribeau, #50 (Invitee)
Adam Vay, #70