Tyler Graovac Is Ready To Join The Minnesota Wild


It is graduation time all across the nation, from colleges to high school’s young men and women are sitting nervously as they finally walk to receive their hard-earned diploma.  If the Iowa Wild were a high school it was a pretty rough year.  A high rate of dropouts (Cody Almond, Zack Phillips and Johan Gustafsson), early graduations (Mathew Dumba and Christian Folin), medical woes (Brett Bulmer and Gustav Olofsson) and other performance related failures mean this year’s graduating class is remarkably small.  It’s a graduating class of one.  The lone Iowa Wild graduate is 6’4″ center Tyler Graovac.  Graovac really was the only bright spot on what was another dismal season.

"“Iowa was a disaster this year.” ~ Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher summarizing the Iowa Wild’s 2014-15 season"

I wrote about the Iowa Wild’s 2014-15 season shortly after it ended this spring.   Graovac stepped up to become the Iowa’s leading scorer and all around most-valuable player.  He has the size, intelligence and skill to graduate at least into one of Minnesota’s bottom 6 forward spots.  As a center, could make for a nice replacement of Kyle Brodziak who is most likely not going to be retained as an unrestricted free agent. Graovac looked solid in a short 3-game call up this season playing on the team’s 4th line and with the team presently in an ugly cap crunch he’s an affordable roster option.  If he makes the Wild out of training camp next fall he comes with an affordable price tag $782,000 as opposed to $3,000,000 for Brodziak.

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Tyler Graovac has come a long way after being drafted in the 7th round, 191st Overall in 2011.  A player who was drafted while occupying the 3rd and 4th lines for the Ottawa 67’s, playing behind Tyler Toffoli.  Patiently, he waited for his opportunity and made the most of it.  Much the same has been true since turning pro.  The more ice time he was given, the more productive he was.  So it is reasonable to hope that if given the chance, Graovac would make the most of it.

Good news for Graovac and the Wild but the fact just one player is ready to take the next step to become a contributor is what is a problem.  Iowa’s rough seasons have revealed the lack of depth in the organization in its prospect pool.  Most of Minnesota’s best prospects are in the college ranks and probably in need of minor league seasoning to be able to help the Wild out.  The ‘best’ seasoning comes in the post season and Minnesota’s AHL affiliate hasn’t been there the last two seasons.

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  • Detroit is often lauded as the development gold standard, and their patience with their young players is well known.  The Red Wings wait until the prospect is ready to move up, rather than forcing them to live by the needs of the big club.  Lately, Detroit has been graduating more of its talent from Grand Rapids but they still had the depth to have a long AHL playoff run season after season.  Dumba benefited greatly from a six-week stint in Iowa.  So even as dysfunctional as Iowa was there were at least a few positive accomplishments in development.

    Most of Minnesota’s college-centered prospects are staying in school, so the team will have to add some minor league free agents to flesh out their roster.  Can they turn Iowa Wild into a winner?  A winner both with the way it develops talent and a team that can make long go of it in the post-season?  Finishing dead last two years in a row means there is a ton of work to be done and I’m sure there are going to be a lot of tough discussions that are going to have to occur in the front office.

    Development is always the goal, but you want your young players to develop in a winning culture too.  You not only want to move up players when they are ready but also help spare the Wild some precious cap space by providing a nice pipeline of talent for years to come.  With no offense to Tyler Graovac, with savvy drafting and clever undrafted free agent additions hopefully a ‘class of one’ never happens again.

    Next: Minnesota Wild: Time Running Out To Win a Stanley Cup

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