With the NHL Entry Draft starting on June 24th, time is running out on the Minnesota Wild as they race to figure out who to use their 1st round, 15th overall pick. Here’s a list of strong possibilities that the Wild can select using that 15th pick.
Hard to believe it, but the NHL draft is only 25 short days away starting on June 24th. The Minnesota Wild will have their work cut out for them when they roll into First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Right now because of trades made in years previous the Wild will only be selecting picks in the 1st, 4th, and 7th rounds. That means that GM Chuck Fletcher and crew will have to be very careful about how they select who they want to be the future of the organization.
The lack of draft picks make the Wild’s first round pick, 15th overall, all that more important. The team will seriously need to make sure that they pick the right player at that talent level because they will not be able to cover up a miss with a solid second or third round player. Scott Cullen at TSN gave an outstanding game plan for the Wild’s offseason and suggested that “For a team that has only two picks in the first six rounds of this year’s draft, the Wild do need to make a conscious effort to re-stock their prospect pool.”
There are possibilities that the Wild could trade back into one of the rounds, but with some of the big game hunting the organization wants to do for the current roster, it seems unlikely. The only way it could be done is if a pick comes in a package deal for one of the pieces the team will be looking for to bolster the current NHL roster.
Still no matter what moves are made, Fletcher has made it clear that he will hold on to the Wild’s 1st round pick. The entering argument is that the Wild will be looking for a scoring forward considering their current defensive depth, their current scoring outage in Iowa and Minnesota, and selection of power forward Erkisson-Ek with last season’s 1st round pick.
When looking to put a name to the possible selection that Wild will take with the 15th overall pick a few names come to mind. Here’s a breakdown of each player and what they could bring the Wild should they select them with the 15th pick.
Keiffer Bellows C/LW: Yup you’re right Keiffer is the son of North Stars great Brian Bellows. Like his dad Keiffer is an outstanding offensive talent that the Wild are looking for. Described a goal scorer, Bellows has one of the best shots in this year’s draft class that the former Edina High School product has used to 49 goals in 81 USHL games. Additionally his skating has been lauded as well with excellent separation speed. Committed to Boston University for next season Bellows will look to improve his defensive game, while at the same time continuing to find his way at center or wing. His former coach in Sioux Falls sums up Bellows best when he said “One of the things that sets him apart is that he is coachable. He soaks everything up and then applies that to the game.” Bellows offers the Wild a pure goal scorer that seems to be lacking in their system and of the NHL roster.
Michael McLeod C: The Mississauga Steelhead center is a playmaker with great instincts and dominating speed. He’s been known to be a player that drives hard to the net with strong hands. McLeod has also been described as a very strong passer as shown by his 40 assists last season in the OHL. His goal scoring game is also strong with a robust wrist shot that netted him 21 goals last season. McLeod’s biggest drawback is his size at 6 foot 2 inch and 183 lbs., but with time and effort that could change. His value to the Wild would be that his scoring game is strong, but his ability to make plays mixed with a good two-way game insures he can contribute in all facets of the game.
Luke Kunin C/LW: Kunin had a very strong freshman year playing in Madison this last season. For Wisconsin Kunin racked up 19 goals and 13 assists in his first campaign. He has been noted as a very good thinker with strong instincts to make plays happen on the ice. Kunin’s shot has also been described as very accurate shooter, with excellent speed that helps him keep up an awesome transition game. His value to the Wild would be like McLeod in that he could play an outstanding two-way game while at the same time contributing on the scoreboard with effectiveness.
Logan Brown C: Another OHL stand-out, Brown has put up solid numbers in two seasons for the Windsor Spitfires. In two seasons he has racked up 38 goals and 117 assists. Brown’s most obvious attribute is his size, coming in at 6 foot 5 inches and 215 lbs. He wins puck battles with his size and stickhandles very well. Brown’s shot might be his drawback as some say it needs improvement, but he makes up for that with an excellent down low and net presence game made easy with his size. The Wild could use Brown to become a great force in front of the net which is something that the current roster is lacking.
So the Wild have their work cut out for them deciding between such excellent talents. The key factors for where they throw their 1st round pick might not even be decided yet as there are still many personnel decisions that need to be made. Any one of these players had the potential to be a very big asset for the Wild going forward, but the question remains what kind of asset do the Wild need. It’s a crucial pick to be sure, and the Wild had better bring their best game come June 24th as anything can and will happen.