ST. PAUL — After bolstering their prospect pool at the NHL Draft over the weekend, the Wild will waste no time seeing some of those prospects, and other prospects throughout the farm system, in action at their annual development camp.
It’s sure to be a busy week with 31 prospects expected to descend upon TRIA Rink from Tuesday to Friday, hoping to leave a lasting impression on members of the front office and coaching staff. Here’s a link to access the full roster.
It’s a new era of sorts for the Wild with some big names from the past — Luke Kunin, Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway — too far along in their careers to be considered prospects. They won’t be in attendance, which should provide others a chance to steal the spotlight, even if it’s only for a few days.
Here are five players to keep an eye on:
Matt Boldy, winger
As the highest drafted Wild prospect since Matt Dumba, Boldy enters development camp with lots of hype surrounding his name. He was taken with the No. 12 pick over the weekend, though some experts had the 18-year-old winger pegged as a surefire Top 10 pick. He showcased his skills as a member of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program last season, scoring 33 goals and dishing out 48 assists. While it’s still unclear how soon Boldy will be able to make an impact at the NHL level, his performance this week should give a good indication of how much work he needs when he attends Boston College this fall.
Nico Strum, center
As the only prospect with any NHL experience, Sturm could really benefit from a strong showing this week. If he’s dominant, he could set himself up nicely to make the team out of training camp. If he’s ordinary, he could leave himself some work once next season rolls around. He signed with the Wild as an undrafted free agent last season, and as a 24-year-old center, Strum probably is what he is at this point. He likely won’t be an elite sniper in the NHL, though he could provide some nice depth in the lineup. It’s up to him to prove he can be that for the Wild heading into next season.
Connor Dewar, winger
Perhaps the most-gifted pure goal scorer the Wild have coming to development camp, Dewar is fresh off an impressive campaign as the captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. He was a third-round pick by the Wild last offseason and finished with 36 goals and 45 assists for the Silvertips before signing an entry-level contract with the Wild toward the end of last season. There’s a good chance he starts next season in the minors with the Iowa Wild, and if he proves himself as a finisher this week, the 19-year-old winger could be fresh in the minds of some of the higher-ups when help is needed at some point next season.
Filip Johansson, defenseman
As a surprise first-round pick by the Wild last offseason, Johansson has a lot of work to do this week to prove general manager Paul Fenton right. He was less-than-impressive last season as a member of Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League, struggling to make much of an impact on the blue line. In a perfect world, he develops into the next Jonas Brodin, a reliable minutes-eater on the blue line who threatens to jump up into the play from time to time. It’s just unclear whether the 19-year-old has that in him.
Hunter Jones, goaltender
How much did the Wild want him? They traded back into the third round over the weekend to select Jones. He was someone amateur scout Darren Yopyk raved about following the draft, emphasizing how his 6-foot-4 frame could do wonders for his development. He finished last season with a 3.31 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage in 57 games with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. As affable as a prospect the Wild have in the farm system, the 18-year-old goaltender will no doubt impress members of the front office and coaching staff with his words off the ice. More importantly for Jones, though, will be doing the same thing with his play on the ice.
Kirill Kaprizov, winger
Just kidding. He won’t be there.
Wild deveolpment camp schedule
June 25: Team White Practice/Team Green Practice (Open to Public), 9:20 a.m./10:50 a.m.
June 26: Team Green Practice/Team Green Practice (Closed to Public), 9:20 a.m./10:50 a.m.
June 27: Forwards Practice/Defensemen Practice (Open to Public), 9:20 a.m./10:45 a.m.
June 28: 3-on-3 Tournament (Open to Public), 6:30 p.m.