The 2019 Minnesota Wild prospect pyramid

The NHL is back and is already full of a few surprises. One of the more positive of these is from the Edmonton Oilers, who have had an amazing start to the year, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lighting up the lamp. On the other end of the scale, we have the Minnesota Wild. A team that has had an awful start to the season, going 1-0-6 after the first seven games. To add to the worries, they simply don’t score enough goals, a problem they had for years. With lengthy contracts to a lot of older players, the future looks bleak in Minnesota. However, there might be small hope for the Minnesota faithful in the shape of some of there prospect pool. Some of which who could turn around the fortune for the Wild.

Understanding the prospect pyramid:

To help take a more-in-depth look at the Wilds prospect pool, I will be using the prospect pyramid technique, which was invented by Youtuber and Toronto Maple Leaf fan Steve Dangle. What it does, is divide the prospects from a given team into tiers rather than rank them individually. Thus preventing the debate about who is the 15th best prospect, since most players who would be around that area, is put into the same tier in the pyramid.

To understand the tiers, it goes from the first tier, which is for the elites to the sixth, which is the tier for everyone else, that isn’t worth really mentioning in greater detail. The first tier is where a player like Jack Hughes or Alexis Lafreniere is placed. This is for the sure-fire superstars in the league. An important thing to note is that this doesn’t mean the team’s best prospect. This is league-wide, so some teams won’t have a prospect in tier one. Tier two is for great prospects. This is not a sin at all, and a lot of good players like Alex Newhook would be in this tier. Tier three is still good, but not a superstar and it continues like this till tier six. For a more in-depth look, there is a link below to Steve Dangle’s video explain the prospect pyramid in greater detail.

Tier one:

Contains: Kirill Kaprizov

The Russian superstar is the hope Wild fans are desperately clinging on to in the wake of the poor start to the season. The things he has done at only 22 are astonishing. Last year Kaprizov had 51 points in the KHL, 30 of which were goals. Add to that 14 points in the playoff, where he was on the third or fourth line for a lot of the time and it shows he is as legit as they come. This season has been more of the same for Kaprizov who the joint leader in points in the KHL, at the time of writing (10/19-19) with 21 points in 18 games. Bill Guriens priority nr. 1,2 and 3 are to get him signed on May 1, 2020. Kaprizov is just too good a player to miss out on. He could easily become the best player in Wild franchise history.

Tier two:

Contains: Matthew Boldy

Minnesota´s first selection at the 2019 draft and the newest top prospect added. Being drafted number 12 in the draft, most fans of Minnesota were hoping for Cole Caufield, who was still able at the time, but as the initial disappointment was disappearing, the excitement of Boldy started to take over. A very well-rounded winger, who can do it all and has the tools to reach this potential. Coming off a great year in the USHL and USDP, he has to take the next step at Boston University.

Tier three:

Contains: Vladislav Firstov, Marshall Warren, Alexander Khovanov, Connor Dewar.

Now that the superstars are out the hat, it’s time to look at the next tier. Firstov is a fast and hardworking Russian power forward with a very high celling. He had a nice first year on North American ice and if that continues in the NCAA, he will be a great second round pick for the Wild. The same goes to Warren, who was taken in the sixth round! I don’t quite know why, since he has all the abilities to be a top 4 defender in the NHL. This pick has steal written all over it if he keeps going at Boston University.

Alexander Khovanov was brilliant in the QMJHL last year with 74 points and be getting another year down there. If he keeps developing, he might add to a strong Russian pool in Minnesota. Another player who was in the juniors last year was Connor Dewar, who had a great year in the WHL with 81 points in 59 games. Now playing in the AHL for Iowa, it will be interesting to see if he can continue his production when it’s against the pros. He might be the best pick from Minnesota in the 2018 draft.

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Tier four:

Contains: Matvei Guskov, Ivan Lodnia, Will Bitten, Dmitri Sokolov, Adam Beckman, Mason Shaw, Brennan Menell, Kaapo Kähkönen, Louie Belpedio, Carson Soucy

The fourth tier is a tier where the players in it, is going to have to start to prove themselves. Its not awful to be in it, but the players have to figure out what they are. Players like Bitten, Menell, Belpedio and Soucy are all under pressure to figure out what their role on the Wild will be. Soucy already has been playing in Minnesota this season and Belpedio could be someone who has the chance to do the same. This chance in the NHL is one they must take.

Sokolov and Lodnia sadly didn’t manage to keep up the fire, they had last year and stagnated a little. Sokolov did fine in Iowa and Lodnia was good in the OHL but none were as dominate as hoped. Käkhönen is here due to his hot start in the AHL. He was red hot and while he cooled down eventually, he showcased enough to make Wilds fan more optimistic about the future between the pipes.

Shaw got hurt 2 years ago and last year he came back with decent points in the AHL. Something he needs that to continue to get back to what he was in juniors, where he was extremely good. Beckman was good in the WHL, especially doing the playoff where he had 12 points in 15 games. However, it was his first year and he need to continue and become more dominate this season.

Lastly Matvei Guskov had a decent start with the London Knights considering it was his first year in North America. If he finds his strides this upcoming season, he could be decent part of the potential Russian future of Minnesota.

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Goaltending prospect Kaapo Käkhönen (Photo credit: Dinur Blum)

Tier five:

Contains Filip Lindberg, Damien Giroux, Jack McBain, Mat Robson, Hunter Jones, Filip Johansson, Simon Johansson, Fedor Gordeev

The tier which contains the rest of our goalies. All fighting with Käkhönen to be the future in the net for the Minnesota Wild. Nothing is clear cut, and nobody is lengths ahead of the others, so if one of them can string together a few stellar seasons the spot is there for the taking.

Now to the sadder and worring part of this tier. It contains Filip Johansson, who was last year’s first round pick. He had a horrid year last year and he wasn’t good at all, and there is a chance he will never make the NHL. For a pick in the first round that’s disastrous. The one bright spot is that he will be getting game time in the SHL so maybe that can help him develop, but as of right now Rasmus Sandin and Joe Veleno seemed like the better picks. Another prospect called Johansson is in a very similar situation. Simon Johansson will also get SHL time, and he must use it to improve if he wants even the slightest of chances to get a look from the Wild in the future.

Three other players who needs to improve is McBain, Gordeev and Giroux. They are fine players with a few upsides, but just haven’t impressed or dominated at all in their respective leagues. And that’s just not good enough to get a spot higher than tier five.

Tier six:

Contains everybody else. There is simply no need to talk about the obscure prospects of the wild who more than likely won’t see a second of NHL game time.

You can discuss this article and many more over at the Overtime Heroics Forums.

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