The Minnesota Wild prospects team is in Traverse City Michigan taking part in the NHL Prospects Tournament. In the Wild’s opening game Thursday night they fell 3-1 to the Red Wings. The lone goal for the Wild came from Tyler Graovac in the third period. The Wild’s prospect squad is playing in the NHL Prospects Tournament sponsored by the Detroit Red Wings. There are 8 teams in the touney split into two divisions. The Gordie Howe Division consists of the Detroit Red Wings,, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild. The Ted Lindsay division has teams from the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. For the players in this tournament this is their chance to impress coaches and management before the NHL’s training camps open next week. Playing well in this tournament could determine a players destination this fall. Some will make it to the NHL level, some will join an AHL squad, others will head to the ECHL or back to their junior or NCAA college teams.
The Wild’s squad has a total of 10 draft picks according to Wild.com, they include; G Alexandre Belanger (2013, 7th round), RW Brett Bulmer (2010, 2nd round), LW Raphael Bussieres (2012, 2nd round), D Mathew Dumba (2012, 1st round), RW Kurtis Gabriel (2013, 3rd round), C Tyler Graovac (2011, 7th round), G Johan Gustafsson (2010, 6th round), LW Erik Haula (2009, 7th round), D Dylan Labbe (2013, 4th round) and C Zack Philips (2011, 1st round). The rest of the Wild’s players are invitees from junior teams in the United States and Canada as well as players from the NCAA college ranks. To see the full Minnesota Prospects Roster click HERE. The team is being coached by Iowa Wild Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst and Iowa Assisstant Head Coach Steve Poapst.
Teams in this years tournament will play games in a round robin format which will then determine the seeding for the championship round where they will face a team from the other division. This tournament is a great opportunity for Wild coaches and management from all levels of the organization to observe the team’s future in action. There’s only so much you can see in practice, drills and scrimmages. A tournsment like this let’s players showcase the full range of their skills in game situations against their peers. The Wild started off on a sour note losing Thursday night to the host Red Wings squad by a 3-1 final. Friday evening Minnesota faces the St. Louis Blues, Saturday it’s Wild vs the Dallas Stars wrapping up the round robin portion of the tournament. Sunday’s matchups will be determined by team’s finish in the rounjd robin round.
Thursday the Wild fell to Detroit by a 3-1 final. The lone goal scored by Graovac came at the 17:29 mark of the 3rd period on a feed from Oliver Archambault. Goaltender Johan Gustafsson look the loss allowing 3 goals on 35 shots faced. Detroit picked up a pair of goals by Andreas Anthanasiou, one in the first and his second late in the 2nd stanza. A single marker by Riley Sheahan less than a minute into the 3rd period wrapped up the scoring for Detroit. The Wild squad went 0 for 3 on the power play and kept the Red Wings off the score board on two Detroit power plays. While the Wild has some good scoring opportunities the could only total 21 shots on goal for the game. Detroit net minder Jake Paterson turned away 5 shots in the 1st period, 10 in the second and 5 0f 6 in the third.
While the Wild saw some good performances against Detroit there were several missed scoring chances and the power play was ineffective. Hopefully the guys will gel a little bit better Friday when they face the St. Louis Blues prospects. It’s a big challenge to come together as a team, playing with each other for the first time, in a tournament format. There is the added pressure of playing for a NHL training camp invite. While there is no “I” in team, each and every one of these players has NHL dreams. Standing out from the pack and catching the eye of coaches in the Wild organization, and Assisstant General Manager Brent Flahr, is the goal of all the Minnesota Wild’s prospects. GonePuckWild.com will keep you informed as the NHL prospects tournament moves along. Until nest time this is Scott Drain shouting, “Let’s Go Wild!”