Welcome to this year’s Top 25 Under 25 series. If you’re unfamiliar, we’re going player-by-player in a ranking of the top 25 Minnesota Wild players that are under the age of 25. It’s fairly simple. Enjoy!
Finishing just ahead of teammate Nikita Nesterenko (who was taken six picks after him by the Wild in the same draft) in this year’s rankings, Warren was one of the few overachievers on a Boston College team that had a rough year. Warren’s first two years at BC had been good, but his junior campaign proved he had what it took to play a top pairing role in a strong conference.
For those who haven’t had the chance to see Warren play yet, it is a must. For an undersized player, Warren plays a truly fearless game. In terms of physicality, he doesn’t shy away from contact whatsoever. He also never passes up a chance to join the rush, often times being easily mistaken as a forward from where he is positioned. Like any player who takes chances, Warren sometimes gets burned. When he’s on his game, this frequency is unquestionably low enough to justify his style of play.
Warren possesses the vision and hands of the typical offensive defenseman. He makes a good first pass on breakouts and is not afraid to hold onto the puck if outlets aren’t available. His skating is not great, likely his biggest area for improvement to get a good look at the next level. Finally, considering Warren was named captain of the Eagles for this upcoming year, it is safe to say he’s a player with the respect of incoming coach Greg Brown and his teammates.
Beginning his junior career with the prestigious US National Team Development Program, Warren’s numbers have been fairly consistent ever since. None of his stats are far out of the ordinary for an offensive defenseman. His biggest improvement statistically from his sophomore to junior season was the large increase in assists. Given the elevated role he took in the Eagles’ lineup, this makes sense. With his final year in Chestnut Hill being spent as the unquestionable top defenseman, it will be interesting to see how Warren can build on a solid junior season.
Roll the Tape
As I said before, Warren is a blast to watch. He is far from afraid to jump into the play and possesses a skillset that makes him very valuable on the rush.
He’s not afraid of risk either, with many of his gambles creating highlights like the clip above.
In this clip, Warren demonstrates his great shot and his quick hands.
Once again, his great offensive skills are on display. His combination of perfect timing on the zone entry and a brilliant head fake lead to a high percentage shot.
Warren is a player who I struggle to project for the long term. As it stands right now, he is a very effective college player who is bound to make the transition to the AHL after the season wraps up. With a few tweaks in his game, particularly in his skating, Warren has the tools to eventually play NHL games.
While he has the tools, I’m not sure how his style of play translates to a lower role in the NHL. While Bill Guerin and his staff have embraced a “best player will make it” attitude, few NHL teams want bottom pairing defenseman as their biggest risk-takers. While the simple answer would be to take less risks and play a conservative game, a lot of the magic in Warren’s game would be lost through that approach. If a coach is willing to let Warren play his game, I think his ceiling is much higher than what scouts were thinking on the day he was drafted.
Hockey Wilderness 2022 Top 25 Under 25
25. Mason Shaw, C/LW
22. Hunter Haight, C
20. Marshall Warren, D