The Minnesota Wild clearly had a type during the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The selection of Liam Ohgren in the first round made sense. He is a hard-working winger that cares about all three zones of the ice and has an above-average shot that should translate to the professional level. And then they selected Danila Yurov with their second first-round pick, and the picture became clearer. He is a hard-working winger that cares about all three zones of the ice and has an above-average shot that should translate to the professional level. So when the Wild selected overager Mikey Milne in the third round, the scouting world went oh yeah, that’s what they’re doing.
Everyone knew that after not being selected last year, that Milne would go fairly high in this year’s draft after the season that he had. He was a reliable offensive contributor on a very good Winnipeg Ice team and was surrounded by some of the best talent in the Canadian junior leagues, but still stood out enough to get noticed.
After all, he is a hard-working winger that cares about all three zones of the ice and has an above-average shot that should translate to the professional level.
A similar story around the CHL, Milne was clearly hurt by the league shutdowns across the country and barely got to play in the shortened WHL season. He didn’t have the high profile to go play overseas in a European league like his teammate and fellow Minnesota prospect Carson Lambos, so he just kept on training and played 14 games when the league resumed play. And with his draft year in the rear window, going unselected, he turned on the jets and must have been so damn focused through the entire season. He ended his 2021-22 campaign with 38 goals and 81 points, finishing second on his team in both categories.
And if his regular season wasn’t enough, he followed that up by scoring 13 goals in 15 playoff games. An incredible number. He clearly utilized his time off well enough to come roaring back with a purpose and showed off his scoring prowess.
Roll the Tape
Milne might have some of my favorite highlights among all Wild prospects. It’s not the flash of a Rossi or a Yurov, and it might not be the most calming presence of Wallstedt, but Milne just looks like he is going to run through absolutely everything in his path but with a rapid awareness of where everything is on the ice.
He also will crash the net like a fucking menace and we love that.
People forget Mikey Milne scored the best/funniest goal of the WHL Playoffs this year pic.twitter.com/ZiwAlIl8P3— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) July 8, 2022
While he seems uncontrollable, it feels like this guided pressure that some coaches love. He has enough skating ability to get on any opponent with possession within a heartbeat and can make them pay for it.
Mikey Milne has a motor that simply won't quit. Relentless behind the red line with pressure on him. Uses strong pivoting and stick-handling to gain separation to then set up Conor Geekie in high danger.— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) June 28, 2022
Working on a Milne report. Stay tuned. But, had to share this clip. pic.twitter.com/i3Tu8AHKXH
Just like that tweet said, Milne is responsible in all three zones and has that professional ability to always work after getting the puck back and will not give up on a play by laying back in his own zone. A modern day winger with old school determine.
Milne really has two options next season, and we will find out the answer shortly as training camps begin later this month. Due to his age and when he was born — he will be 20 years old when the season begins — he has the option to immediately turn pro and play in in the AHL, if the Wild deem he is ready for that. Or, he can go back to the WHL as an overager and hope for a championship with the same core of players that almost got there last season.
Personally, my prediction is that he will go back to junior and hope for a trophy with a 100-point regular season, but it would be nice to have him a little bit closer to his future and with more Wild eyes on his development.
In the long-term future, Milne might turn out to be a Duhaime-esque forward, or he can get a rocket strapped to his back and suddenly find himself among the hard-working wingers Minnesota already has and can be the succession of Marcus Foligno on this team. It can go either way but in base instinct, he has enough tools to at least make it professionally. He is an exciting player that basically came out of nowhere.