In the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it’s not often you see a current Minnesota Wild prospect in action. Last night, fans were able to watch two in action as Louis Nanne and the Stampede hosted Avery Peterson’s Sioux City Musketeers in the regular season series close of one of the United States Hockey League’s most iconic rivalries.
In front of an electrifying (according to USHL standards) crowd of 4,827, was a goaltender’s duel that would be decided with less than 12 minutes to go in the game after Joel LEsperance notched his 26th goal of the season off a Peterson pass to give Sioux City the 2-1 win. Peterson has six goals and 13 assists for 19 points and a plus-7 rating in 24 games with the Muskies after a “Mr. Hockey” award-winning season with Minnesota’s Grand Rapids High School.
Nanne’s only obvious contribution to the score sheet was a negative-2 rating. However, it could have been a lot more.
While Sioux City’s goaltender kept the buzzing Stampede (who outshot Sioux City 42-23) from making it a 3-2 or even 4-2 game, the defensive presence of Nanne may have prevented Sioux City from wracking up more goals of its own. He’s not a fast skater or a dynamic offensive talent, but what he can do, he does quite well. Throughout the night, the 2012 seventh round pick made hits, had an active stick and worked his tail off both to keep the puck in the offensive zone and break up any potential chances in his own. Nanne’s road to the NHL is going to be a long and tedious one–if it even gets there, that is. However, he has the potential to be a solid blue collar third or fourth line grinder. In 34 games with Sioux Falls, Nanne has four goals and four assists for eight points and a negative-11 rating.
Peterson, on the other hand, played an exceptional game, notching an assist on the game-winner, a shot on goal and a plus-2 rating. Minnesota’s 2013 sixth round pick seemed to dominate the offensive zone, using his size and strength on the puck, wheeling and weaving his way between defenders, making plays and proving himself to be a thorn in the side of the Stampede’s defense every time he hopped the boards. His play couldn’t help but make me think of Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter–two big young guns currently donning Wild sweaters that have the potential to dominate the ice physically and offensively night in and night out. If Erik Haula can make such an impact as a late round draft pick, there’s no reason Peterson can’t in a few more seasons as well.
Neither one of these youngsters will be wearing a Wild sweater any time soon. However, a full four seasons of college puck and a year or two in the minors could give them enough development and confidence to make a serious push for a roster spot in Minnesota.