The Minnesota Wild 2018 draft class seemingly hasn’t caught the imagination of selectors for the World Junior Championships this winter, with only one draftee picked for their nation’s selection camp.
That one player was Alexander Khovanov, who looks to have a place on Team Russia. It’s fair to say that Connor Dewar was unlucky to be overlooked too. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for the Minnesota Wild, neither of these players were first round picks, instead both being chosen in the third round.
You could argue that this is a knock on the Minnesota Wild’s scouts and the people making the decisions, given that their first round choice, Filip Johansson is nowhere to be seen on the Swedish selection camp roster.
Alternately, you could argue in favour of the scouting team, pointing to the fact that their third round picks are making waves in their respective leagues.
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Either way, I think you would hope for more. Going in the first round, Johansson was always going to be the player that fans have the highest expectations of, especially since the Minnesota Wild left options, even just looking at defensemen, like Rasmus Sandin and Jacob Bernard-Docker on the table.
Both players have been called to their respective nation’s camps; in Sandin’s case – Team Sweden, the exact camp Johansson would’ve been called to.
Now, you can lay some blame on the team that Johansson finds himself with; Leksands IF sits bang in the middle of the table, thus he probably doesn’t see the easiest of assignments each night.
However, a minus-10 plus/minus doesn’t look good on anybody, especially not a defenseman.
You can argue too that not ever young Swedish defenseman is going to turn into Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman or even Alexander Edler, but first-round pedigree still means something to most people and developing into players of that level is the expectation.
Given that other teams around the NHL are harbouring multiple players from their 2018 draft classes on World Junior selection camp rosters, using the Montreal Canadiens as an example, they have three 2018 draftees selected.
Nobody is saying that scouting these young players is easy, nor do I profess to be able to pick talent like a pro scout could, but you have to question whether the draft picks were a case of the Minnesota Wild playing it safe or whether they truly did pick the players they thought to be the best available.
Time will tell how these guys mature, but right now, its seeming a little frustrating to watch other teams have multiple invites and the Wild only having one guy to cheer for.