#5 – Louie Belpedio (AHL – Iowa Wild)
Louie Belpedio had a brief one game tryout for the Minnesota Wild in 2017-18, impressing with 2 assists in that single game. He was thought to be an option to fill a role with the NHL club this year, but instead has found himself getting the ice time in the AHL.
This appears to have been for the best for Belpedio, as he is one of only tw defensemen in Iowa to have started all 10 games so far. It’s a crowded defensive group currently, but the Wild clearly have high expectations of Louie that he is getting consistent time with the team.
He has made the most of his time, registering a goal and 4 points through the first 10 games of the AHL season. Louie is a talented defender with offensive vision and skill, not afraid to jump in the play for a scoring chance when the opportunity is presented.
His development in the defensive zone is where he needs to focus this year, and it appears that he has taken strides to complete his all-around game. He has a +3 so far, and has not been a glaring hole on the back-end in Iowa.
As a right shot defender, Belpedio could be the future successor for someone like Jared Spurgeon should a surprise trade come through. Otherwise, the Minnesota Wild defense is still extremely young, with Ryan Suter as the only player in his thirties.
There is plenty of time for the 22-year-old Belpedio to work on becoming a well-rounded two-way defender, and no reason to rush him to the NHL. As a 2014 draft pick, who has recently completed his NCAA career, time spent in the AHL could be hugely beneficial to him before getting a permanent NHL spot.