Minnesota Wild: Wild Training Camp 2015 Analysis and Predictions


Yesterday the Minnesota Wild released their full training camp roster, naming 35 players initially, although some of the players participating in the Traverse City Prospect Tourney are expected to increase that number.

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Much of the 35 man roster is no surprise at all as the Wild did not make much of a splash in the free-agent or trade market. Still it’s worth looking into the non-roster invitees and some players from Iowa who are hoping to make the team out of training camp. Most of the line-up is pretty solid heading into camp, but there are still some line-up spots in which players can fit in with the Wild as well as major holes to fill in their AHL affiliate in Iowa. At any rate, here are a few things I’ll be keeping my eye on during camp.

Among the PTO invitees, the most compelling story is that of former Flames 1st round pick goaltender Leland Irving who is coming off of two average seasons in Europe in SM-liiga and the KHL where he played well in his last couple of games. His NHL resume is not very good with only 3 wins in 13 starts. So the reason Irving is someone to watch is because of his potential, and that he could be the veteran net minder that Chuck Fletcher wanted to add into Iowa to take some of the pressure off of the young stable of net minders they already have down there. I guess Nick Backstrom could be that guy too, but as discussed previously, that’s not likely to happen.

Other than Irving, the PTO invitee list is really not that compelling. The Wild did not seek a high profile PTO player like St. Louis did with Scott Gomez or Florida with Martin Havlat.  It is my prediction that all the Wild’s PTO invitees in camp will most likely start the season in Iowa or be cut outright.

Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the other group of roster hopefuls already established in the Wild system from Iowa, the forwards are going to be the most compelling story. The defense is deep right now with three very talented players in Reilly, Prosser, and Frolin vying for the final spot in the line-up and one spot as a depth defensive player. That doesn’t leave much room for the young group of blueliners, so barring an injury, don’t expect any defensemen from Iowa to make the big club out of camp. This situation is really what led to the departure of Jon Blum to the KHL, as he knew there was no room for him on the Wild roster.

Among the forwards there seems to be maybe one open slot in the line-up and one to two depth forwards, which will most likely go to a name you’ve seen before with the team last year. Three names stand out from last year’s Iowa roster that have a chance to break camp with the team are Brett Sutter, Tyler Graovac, and Ruslan Fedotenko.

photo by Reese Strickland, courtesy of Iowa Wild

Sutter scored 12 goals in 71 games in Iowa and played 6 games with the Wild with only 3 assists and 0 goals which is not really the best stat line ever. Still Sutter has some NHL experience and a good history with the organization. Graovac scored 21 goals to lead Iowa in goals last season. At 22 years old he’s still showing potential with good scoring touch and could benefit from a few games of NHL experience. Finally there is Fedotenko who scored 3 goals in 13 games with Iowa last season after coming back from the KHL. At 36 he’s seen a ton of NHL action over a career that saw him score 26 goals in ‘05-‘06 for the Lightning, and be a key member of the previous year’s Tampa Bay Stanley Cup winning team. My prediction is that Fedotenko could start the year with the Wild on a short leash with the prospect of Graovac or Sutter being called up to take his place should he not produce.

Still despite all my conjecture it should be said that anything could happen up to the first regular season game in Colorado on October 8th. Injuries, poor play, or just a coach’s gut feelings can make for an opening day roster that no one saw coming. Get ready; Wild hockey is officially back on Friday!

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