Minnesota Wild: Five to watch at Prospect Camp
Minnesota Wild fans will have to wait until at least September to watch their prized additions like Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell hit the ice. It is likely that Ryan Suter and Zach Parise will suit up then too.
All jokes aside, this is an exciting time for the Wild and their fans. Suter and Parise will lead the team into contention for years to come. Fans can get a glimpse of some of their future teammates at this week's Prospect Development Camp.
The Green/White scrimmages will be open to the public Thursday and Sunday. If you cant make it to St. Paul you could always check out a local squirt tournament where you might find Suter's future "D" partner or Parise's future linemate.
Here are five players worth keeping an eye on during the week:
Mikael Granlund, Center- Many consider the 20 year old Finn the prize of Minnesota's deep prospect pool. He became a sensation with his famous "scoop" goal in the 2011 World Championships.
Besides starring for the Finnish national team at the ripe age of 18, Granlund is also a veteran of three World Junior teams and captained the squad to a fourth place finish last January.
He had an impressive 51 points for his club HIFK in 45 games in Finland as well.
Granlund could center the second line as early as this year. It helps to have a mentor like fellow Finn Mikko Koivu to lead the way.
Charlie Coyle, Center- A key component of last year's Brent Burns trade, Coyle starred for team USA in the last two World Junior Championships. In the most recent event, Coyle was one of the few bright spots for the Americans, scoring four goals including a hat trick as the US finished a disappointing seventh.
The 6'2" forward started this past year with Boston University before heading to Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior League. He had a combined 52 points in 39 games.
The Wild inked Coyle to a three year contract back in March, but failed to call up the young forward to the big club.
He will likely make his NHL debut this upcoming season but will see more time in Junior or for Houston in the AHL.
Jonas Brodin, Defenseman- Among the many young blueliners who will grow under the tutelage of Ryan Suter and Tom Gilbert is the talented Swede Jonas Brodin.
The tenth overall pick had a somewhat disappointing 2011-12 season, only posting 8 assists for Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite league.
He did however anchor the Swedish blue line at the World Junior Championships last winter. Brodin contributed 4 assists in 6 games as the Swedes took home the Gold.
Brodin is a puck-moving, steady defenseman who will pair well with 2012 first rounder Matt Dumba in the coming years.
For the time being, he'll spend another year developing either in Houston or back home for Sweden.
A good showing at this week's camp could usher the d-man to St. Paul sooner than expected though.
Jason Zucker, Left Wing- The 2010 second rounder made his NHL debut in April, assisting on two goals in a six game cameo.
Zucker's style of play evokes a young Zach Parise. The former Denver Pioneer stands just 5'11" (on a good day) but is very strong on his feet and immediately becomes one of the league's fastest skaters.
Like Parise, Zucker works very well in the corners against much bigger opponents, often emerging with the puck in tough scoring areas. In the rugged WCHA he scored 22 goals and added 26 assits in 38 games in 2011-12.
The speedy Californian will wear 16 for the. Don't be surprised if he enters the Calder conversation before too long.
Justin Fontaine, Right Wing- Fontaine may be almost five years older than anyone else on this list but he put up a respectable 55 points in 73 games for Houston in his first season of pro hockey.
Fontaine signed with the Wild in 2011 after completing a stand out career for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The three time All-WCHA selection scored 164 points in 159 games for the Bulldogs and capped his career with the 2011 National Championship.
He has a knack for scoring that the Wild has sorely missed since the departure of Marian Gaborik. Zach Parise will certainly help in that department, but players like Fontaine will add necessary depth to an offense that finished dead last in 2011-12.
His relative maturity could earn the 24 year old a call up before his younger teammates.
Here's a list of all those attending the week long camp: Wild Prospects