Since the team's inception the Wild have had a few good undrafted signings. Most notably are the following players:
· Nicklas Backstrom
· Joel Ward
· Pascal DuPuis
· Zbynek Michalek
Unfortunately they haven’t done the best job of keeping them within the organization as 3 out of 4 of those went off to make a decent career with other teams. That said, the Wild under Fletcher have done an even worse job at undrafted signings. Justin Fontaine is the only one of any worth and that was in 2011. The top 4 were all under Risebrough. With how many draft picks that have been virtually given away this is not acceptable. In Fenton’s first year, hopefully he gets back to searching for prospects outside of the draft. The Wild need all the young talent they can get right now. Here are some players that are worth taking a look at. Let’s start with our own backyard.
Zach Driscoll (G)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 174 pounds
From: Apple Valley, MN
A little undersized for what is usually desired in a goalie, but is quick in the net. He achieved the USHL’s second best SV% .932 and third best GAA of 1.90 last year. His stats barely dipped in the playoffs as well with a SV% .929 and GAA of 2.29. Unfortunately for him, his team didn’t take advantage of his spectacular goaltending.
Jackson Cates (F)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 174 pounds
From: Stillwater, MN
Jackson was 5th in the USHL in points last year and 2nd in goals. For a team that needs a scorer he may be a great fit. He is also a hardworking and very well-liked teammate. He was Minnesota’s 2016 Herb Brooks award winner. Last year he was awarded the USHL’s forward of the year as well as named to the first all-star team.
Ben Copeland (F)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 179 pounds
From: Edina, MN
His coach and scouts agree he already has NHL speed. Not only that, he’s not afraid to play defense. His main knock is that sometimes he tries to force a play too much, which can be solved with experience and coaching. He is good enough to be ranked 126th on NHL’s North American Skaters final ranking, 114th by McKeen’s Hockey. Copeland had 62 points in 60 games in the USHL and is going to the NCAA for Colorado next year. He is a playmaker with the most assists last year in the USHL and even added 2 assists during the top prospects game.
Matthew Galajda (G)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 194 pounds
Last year he was 3rd in SV% with .939 and first in GAA at 1.51 in the NCAA. He attended Cornell University, so you know he has the smarts to go with his athleticism. This is the guy the Wild should definitely be courting especially without any new goalie prospects. He was the goalie of the year in his freshmen year. Compare to Ben Scrivens, who was a decent NHL goalie and fellow goalie of the year for Cornell. The difference is Scrivens did it in his senior year with less of a save percentage and goals against average. Another comparison shows his possible upside. Scrivens and Devan Dubnyk were on the same horrendous 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers. Dubnyk in 30 games that season had a .894 save percentage and a 3.36 GAA. Scrivens in 21 games had a .916 SV% and a 3.01 GAA. Now those are terrible numbers, but, remember, the Oilers were just as, if not more, terrible. The same season before being traded from the Kings, Scrivens had a SV% of .931 and GAA at 1.97 in 19 games, which is a far better performance. Goalies can be streaky, but with a rookie performance, Galajda had Dubnyk+ potential. How can you not take a chance on the guy?
There are only 2 goalies who played more than 30 games in the NHL last year with a better SV% and GAA are Carter Hutton and Antti Raanta. They are 6’1 and 6’0’ respectively. The goalie height demand of the NHL is overrated and causes quality goaltenders to be overlooked.
I could go on but his awards last year, and the video, speak for themselves;
Anthony Del Gaizo (F)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 190 pounds
This guy is a scoring machine. He not only had the most goals (40) in the USHL, but the most total points (72) as well. The one issue would be that he doesn’t seem to show up as much in the playoffs. That said, he still is worth looking at. He was ranked #293 by Future Considerations and #181 by McKeen’s for this year’s draft. His awards last year include;
· USHL Most Goals (40)
· USHL Most Points (72)
Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (RW)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 201 pounds
Known as the “Great Dane” this powerful winger has tremendous strength. He also has a good shot with the most goals and points in the playoffs leading to the team winning the Clark Cup. In the regular season he had 26 goals and 43 points in 40 games. He has a good hard shot, and can use his weight effectively. His only knock is he could use a bit more speed. He was ranked #205 by NHL Central Scouting and #175 by Future Considerations for the 2018 draft.
Connor Schlichting (D)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 207 pounds
This beefy defenseman won’t wow you with scoring. He had 39 points in 67 games last year in the OHL for the Sarnia Sting. He didn’t make the lists as he was hurt his first 3 OHL seasons. His team’s leading +/- 33 is no accident though. This man has the size and ability to play defense. While his one goal in the playoffs wasn’t much he also posted a +3 for that as well. He is basically 2-3 years behind because of injuries but may be a future lockdown D-Man.
Shaw Boomhower (LW/C)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 185 pounds
If you want grit this is your man. He is a hard-hitting instigator. Ranked #117 by NHL Central Scouting in 2017, he has fallen a little off the boards. That said, he has plenty of potential and could possibly be Cal Clutterbuck 2.0. This video says it all.
Samuel Bucek (LW)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 192 pounds
He had 44 points in 49 games with 22 goals in the USHL last year. Ranked #171 by NHL Central Scouting and #175 by Future Considerations, he has some potential. He’s a bigger guy who will play down low and screen the goalie.
Alexis Binner (D)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 209 pounds
A prototypical defensive defenseman. He plays a sound game, and is good at boxing out around the net. Big and willing to dole out punishment to opposing players. Of course, like a prototypical defensive defensemen, he doesn’t have a lot of offensive upside. In the 2017 draft he was ranked 94th by NHL Central Scouting.
Strauss Mann (G)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 174 pounds
He was the 2017-18 USHL Clark Cup Champion goalie. Posting an impressive regular season .932 SV% and a 1.86 GAA. When the playoffs came he didn’t miss a beat with almost identical numbers of .932 SV% and a 2.09 GAA. His size is, of course, small for current NHL standards, so he is overlooked.