Every week we will take a look around the Minnesota Wild prospect pool and see what players have had an impressive streak of games. It might be three, it might be five, it might just be one. Let’s look at The Young and Wild.
The junior and college leagues are gearing up for their postseasons and the NHL had their All-Star weekend. Not a whole lot of games to go off of, but there were certainly some key Wild prospects deserving some sort of spotlight.
I think it is now three consecutive Young and Wilds that I have mentioned Novak’s name, but he is just really putting up the points in his final months as a teenager in the WHL. During the last week, the 2020 fifth-round pick has scored a goal and four assists through just three games.
And what a nifty goal it was.
Yep, definitely cannot turn the puck over to that guy in front.— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) February 5, 2022
Pavel Novak@pnovak111 | #novomania | #mnwild pic.twitter.com/qHzAszrMRm
While some of his tallies have been mid-range shots that wouldn’t beat any professional defender or goaltender, this is just an acute awareness on the forecheck that gets to take advantage of an unsure blueliner and put the puck in the back of the net unassisted.
Novak is on an interesting trajectory and will no doubt turn professional next season. Whether that means that he will flame out as one of those typical players that put up a huge number of points in their last junior season, and not have enough of a well-rounded game to make it professionally; we shall see.
There weren’t a lot of typical young stars making their case for the list, but we do just have to recognize Simon Johansson’s week and his season overall. Thankfully, he did put up three assists in the same number of games, including a two-assist showing against the Pelicans in the Liiga.
Simon Johansson’s 2 assists today for Ilves. He’s up to 5 goals and 15 assists in 39 Liiga games this season. He is currently in the final year of his contract … #mnwild pic.twitter.com/LBreUBH1Z6— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) February 2, 2022
Johansson has had a weird start. After not really getting many minutes in his native Sweden, and even being demoted to their second division last season, he crossed over the border to Finland to play for Ilves in Liiga. This is where his production has suddenly exploded with a larger role. He now has five goals and 21 points in 41 games played. Not the most outlandish amount of points, but it is noticeable.
Considering that Johansson signed just a one-year deal in Finland, and at 22 years old, he would be a decent option to get some AHL time to acclimatize to the North American game, and could overthrow the typical Kevin Czuczman or even Jordie Benn, as a viable substitute in case of injury next season. The 2018 fifth-round pick is a name to look out for this summer if the Wild want to look for more internal options to fill out their depth chart.
Some quick notes on prospects, I guess:
- Jack McBain and Sam Hentges are at the Olympics, with the former skating as an extra forward for Team Canada and the latter with Team USA. Both teams will take the ice for their first preliminary game on Wednesday.
- Matt Boldy is destroying the NHL, so that’s that.
- Marat Khusnutdinov, Matvei Guskov, and the rest of the KHL are canceling the rest of their regular season, and going straight to the playoffs. This would have been more exciting if Khusnutdinov didn’t re-sign with his Russian club, as the Wild could have brought him over as soon as they were knocked out. Alas.