Wild should pick up a two-way prospect in Draft

Defenseman Carson Lambos, who was selected 25th overall in the NHL Entry Draft in July, is one of the invited players for the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase this week in St. Paul.
Defenseman Carson Lambos, who was selected 25th overall in the NHL Entry Draft in July, is one of the invited players for the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase this week in St. Paul. /

While it doesn’t appear many people are expecting the Minnesota Wild to pick up a strong defenseman in the first round of the draft this year, I still think it should be their first priority. It’s almost certain that Dumba either gets plucked by the Seattle Kraken or gets moved in a trade for other assets.

And it’s going to be difficult to find a replacement for the veteran defenseman.

The Wild appear to be picking 21st and 25th in the first round. It goes without saying that the upside in picking late this year is that the organization gets two picks. And there’s a lot of talent that will likely be available to the club.

Carson Lambos (D)

Virtually no one has the Wild picking up Carson Lambos, but I think he’d make a great addition to the defensive corps. And he has the potential to eat up a ton of minutes in the coming years while playing on the top-pairing.

The big upside to Lambos is that he’s a two-way defenseman who can create at the offensive side of the ice. He has great edgework and has the ability to get up ice in a matter of seconds. Lambos is also strong on the puck, and has good puck control. His backward skating is elite, preventing even the most dangerous skaters from getting around him.

He appears to have a quarterback mindset on the breakout, too. Though he’s not one to skate from end-to-end, he’s reliable in carrying the puck out of the defensive zone and making a good first pass to get the rush going.

He’s likely not a ready-made NHLer, but he would be an ideal player to have in the Wild’s system as a developing defenseman.

It may be wishful thinking to suppose that the Wild will have a shot at selecting Lambos, but due to Covid, he was not able to register as many games as he might have liked in the 2020-2021 season. This could mean that he falls to a late first-round pick. This could open the door for Minnesota.

One can only hope.

What They’re Saying

“Lambos is a two-way defenseman who has showcased good patience in the defensive zone and in transition.” –Mike G. Morreale (NHL.com)

“He is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. His skating is good and he is able to walk a blueline quite well. Lambos has a big shot from the blue line which is a legitimate weapon on the powerplay, especially when he moves into the circles with it.” –Tony Ferrari (Dobber Prospects)

Fyodor Svechkov (C)

Widely considered the best Russian forward in the 2021 NHL draft, Fyodor Svechkov should be the main target for the Wild’s upper brass. While he’s not a defenseman, per se, he has the mindset of one, making him one of the best two-way centers in his draft class.

In the defensive end, he plays just like a defenseman. His vision and awareness are among the best, and he’s not afraid to get physical with the opposition. He’s likely not going to be someone who shows up on the highlight all that much, but similar to Montreal Canadiens top-line center, Phillip Danault, he’s working behind the scenes to give his team the best chance at coming out on top.

Svechkov will not be the fastest player on the ice, either. He’s likely to play a third-line center role, making him a good shutdown center against a team with depth.

Again, Svechkov may get plucked before the Wild have a chance to snag him, but he should certainly be a player on the organization’s radar.

What They’re Saying

“Possesses a great blend of top-notched skill with the ability to play responsibly in the neutral and defensive zones.” –Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

“Arguably the top defensive forward in this class, the Russian winger is a terror to play against. He employs terrific angles and routes on both sides of the puck.  A rare Russian to constantly play at a high pace.” –Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects)

Final Thoughts

The Wild averaged 3.21 goals per game and allowed just 2.84 goals against over the course of their 2020-2021 campaign. It’s clear the team knows how to score, and Kirill Kaprisov and Kevin Fiala are expected to be firing on all cylinders next season.

The team doesn’t need an elite goal-scorer.

If Cam Talbot—who had a .915 save percentage—can continue his solid play, the only question mark is going to be how the club responds on the defensive side of the ice. I usually consider the defense to be the strongest part of the Wild’s play, but this could all change depending on the possible shake-up this offseason.

The club needs someone who can produce offensively while asserting themselves on the defensive side of the puck.

It can’t only be about who will take the ice next season, ready to play. The organization needs to flesh outs its players in development.