On Tuesday the Wild inked a three-year two-way contract with undrafted free agent Guillaume Gélinas, who earned the Emile Bouchard Trophy as defenseman of the year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.
Gélinas is an under-sized defenseman at 5-foot-9, 181 pounds, making Wild fans draw instant comparisons to 5-foot-9, 185 pound Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon.
Like Spurgeon, Gélinas has a nice offensive upside that could benefit the Iowa Wild this season, who scored an AHL worst 169 goals last season. That’s an average of just 2.2 goals per game.
Playing last season for Val-d’Or Foreurs in the QMJHL the 21-year-old Gélinas scored 23 goals and 69 assists for 92 points in 67 games. He put up another 34 points and a plus-11 rating in 24 playoff games before his team lost to Edmonton to go to the Memorial Cup championship against Guelph.
Aside from his size being a potential problem, many have speculated that his scoring numbers were bolstered by a strong offensive core in Val-d’Or that included the likes of Red Wings draft pick Anthony Mantha (57 goals, 63 assists in 57 games) and the undrafted Louick Marcotte (42 goals, 58 assists in 67 games). All in all, the team had five players who averaged over a point a game.
Nonetheless, Gélinas finished the season seventh in scoring for the league and was the number one scoring defenseman.
This is a nice signing for the Wild. Expectations should probably be low, but it’s a low risk move on a player who could have high upside. Maybe nothing happens, but if he develops into a player like Spurgeon that’d be a big win for the Wild, who are restocking Iowa with younger players after last year’s outing where they lacked in depth, scoring, and grit.
When the fall rolls around there will be a lot of defenseman that Wild fans should keep an eye on down in Iowa with Gélinas joining Mathew Dumba, Christian Folin, and Gustav Olofsson. The latter three will be hoping to carve out a little time in St. Paul, with Dumba and Folin likely to make appearances should nothing else change with the Wild roster before the season opens on October 9.
Gélinas scores the OT-winner in Game 2 of QMJHL finals
Follow Gélinas on Twitter.