Star Phoenix reporter Daniel Nugent-Bowman, the beat writer on the Saskatoon Blades, is reporting that Blades’ forward Ryan Graham will be attending “Minnesota Wild camp” this fall. The news appears to be corroborated by a new player page on the team’s website.
Not sure if this is out there, but Saskatoon Blades LW Ryan Graham has been invited to Minnesota Wild camp. He leaves Sept. 10. #spnews
— Daniel Nugent-Bowman (@DNBsports) August 23, 2014
Nugent-Bowman reports that Graham has been invited to the “Minnesota Wild’s prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich. He’s scheduled to leave Saskatoon on Sept. 10.”
Graham, just 18-years-old, has had two summers of not being able to train properly due to a back injury follow a growth spurt and a serious car accident. The injuries may have had something to do with his being passed over in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in his first year of eligibility. He also didn’t get invited to any team’s summer development camp. This summer the young forward has had time to train and will be given a good look by Wild brass.
In Nugent-Bowman’s profile he notes that Graham used getting passed over as inspiration and did a 100 kilometer bike race and entered duathlons (run, bike run) to get himself into shape.
He’s a big forward for his age at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds. He fits the mold of power forwards the Wild seem to be looking to bring into the fold at the moment. He’s no Alex Tuch (6-foot-3, 214 pounds), but he has good size. WHL scout C. Nickolet notes in his pre-season Blades preview that Graham has good speed as well and is gaining confidence in his game.
Blades LW Ryan Graham will attend #mnwild camp in Sept. He's big and learning to be more physical. Strong skater with a very hard shot.
— C Nickolet (@DubFromAbove) August 23, 2014
Like many of the power forwards the Wild have in the system or are giving a look, he has nice offensive upside as well. Last season for the Blades he scored 15 goals and eight assists through 70 games. He started the season slow and had a long slump in December, but he came back strong and finished the season on the team’s top line, playing on the power play and penalty kill units as well.
With the inability to get in the training he wanted due to health problems in previous years and getting passed over by other NHL teams, is it possible that the Wild may have a diamond in the rough should they choose to sign Graham?
At this point, I’ve seen no official announcement from the Wild on their roster for Traverse City. The tournament begins on September 12.