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August 1, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Minnesota Wild

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Minnesota Wild Top 10 Prospects

1. Mikael Granlund, Center
2. Jonas Brodin, Defense
3. Matt Dumba, Defense
4. Charlie Coyle, Center
5. Johan Larsson, Center
6. Zack Phillips, Center
7. Brett Bulmer, Right Wing
8. Jason Zucker, Left Wing
9. Mario Lucia, Left Wing
10.Erik Haula, Center

Organizational Ranking: 4th

System Overview: The Wild have an elite system and the top tier of their system is clearly the best in the NHL. Granlund is one of the best prospects in hockey, Brodin and Dumba are both elite defense prospects, while several of their other top forward prospects are well above-average players. The sole weakness I could find is that Minnesota lacks the elite depth of some other top systems although their depth is still good. Otherwise, they have quality talent at every position and players with tremendous upside on the way.

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1. Mikael Granlund, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 02/26/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 183
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 45 GP, 20 G, 51 P, 20:50 ATOI (HIFK-SM-Liiga)
Acquired: First round, ninth overall in 2010 by Minnesota

The Good: Mikael Granlund is an elite puck possessor who is magical with the puck on his stick. He has plus plus puck skills who can make defensemen miss at will. Granlund is a very imaginative player that can create space for himself so well. He's also an elite thinker who can make wow-caliber passes, and when he sets up to look down his options, there aren't many players who display the combination of vision, patience, and offensive sense that he does. He has a fine on-ice work ethic and commits to defense and is smart in that end as well.

The Bad: His skating has gotten a little better, but he's still below average in that aspect. Granlund's size hinders him as well as he projects as a replacement-level physical player in the NHL.

Projection: He has the potential to be an All-Star center.

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2. Jonas Brodin, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 07/12/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 170
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 49 GP, 0 G, 8 P, 17:27 ATOI (Färjestad-SEL)
Acquired: First round, 10th overall in 2011 by Minnesota

The Good: To say Brodin is advanced for his age may be an understatement, whether it be as a legitimate top-four defenseman at 18 on a decent SEL team, or being leaned on at the World Championships for Sweden to check players like Evgeni Malkin, he is a player who has a tremendous hockey brain and is way ahead of the usual development curve. His hockey sense is evident with his great defensive reads, and his sense allows him to be dangerous offensively, too. Brodin sees the ice well, makes plays under pressure, can quarterback a power play, and knows when to jump into the rush. He's also a high-end skater who moves as well going backwards as he does going forward.

The Bad: Brodin is not really a physical player and could stand to use the body more. He also needs a lot more strength. His puck skills are okay and he can look a little rigid when trying to handle the puck.

Projection: He has the tools to be a decent first-pairing defenseman.

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3. Matt Dumba, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 07/25/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 173
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 69 GP, 20 G, 57 P (Red Deer-WHL)
Acquired: First round, seventh overall in 2012 by Minnesota

The Good: Dumba is a well above-average and arguably elite skater who accelerates with the best of them and moves seamlessly on the ice. He's also an above-average puck-handler and passer who can lead rushes, make people miss, and make plays from his own end or on the power play. He's got a high-end shot and can unload bombs from the point. He's a little undersized but projects as an above-average physical player due to his strength and compete levels on top of just loving to play a physical brand of hockey. He's a pretty solid defensive player who can shut down opponents with his body and his reads.

The Bad: At times, he can be a victim of trying to do too much or go out of position for big hits but he toned both down notably from a year ago.

Projection: He could be a top-pairing defender.

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4. Charlie Coyle, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 03/02/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 207
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 16 GP, 3 G, 14 P (Boston University-Hockey East) 23 GP, 15 G, 38 P (Saint John-QMJHL)
Acquired: Trade from San Jose, drafted first round, 28th overall in 2010 by San Jose

The Good: Coyle's skating has improved a lot and his top speed has gone from a weakness to a mild strength as I'd say it's pro average now. His best trait is his physical game as he's a truck on skates with a massive frame with a strength level beyond where most junior players usually are. Coyle is a smart, creative puck possessor who has great hands for a big man. Last year, he would show flashes of playmaking skill, but that area was more consistent this year and he looks like a legit above-average passer. He works hard in board battles, and is responsible defensively.

The Bad: Coyle's first few steps still look a tad sluggish. He also sometimes takes a little too long with his decision making. He has no real glaring hole, but doesn't have dynamic tools, either.

Projection: He could be a great second-line center.

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5. Johan Larsson, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 07/25/1992
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 198
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 49 GP, 12 G, 36 P, 18:37 ATOI (Brynäs-SEL)
Acquired: Second round, 56th overall in 2010 by Minnesota

The Good: The SEL rookie of the year had a tremendous breakout campaign, scoring 21 more points than the next best junior-aged scorer. He has above-average puck skills and legit high-end hockey sense. Larsson can be dynamic with his playmaking skills and thinks the game at a really high level. He's also a smart, dependable defensive player who can log tough minutes. Larsson may only be average sized, but he's a fine physical player because of his great compete level. He's versatile and can be effective on the wing and at center.

The Bad: Larsson's skating has improved, but I'd say he's still a tick below average. He also needs to get a lot more strength to play his style of game as he's slightly undersized.

Projection: He could a very good second-line forward.

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6. Zack Phillips, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 10/28/1992
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 181
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 60 GP, 30 G, 80 P (Saint John-QMJHL)
Acquired: First round, 28th overall in 2011 by Minnesota

The Good: Phillips has high-end tools and can really control the puck. He has plus puck skills and hockey sense and the kind of upside that makes scouts drool. He can make high level deke moves consistently but threatens even more as a playmaker. The industry universally praises his instincts as he sees plays developing so well, and makes good off-puck reads on top of his great vision.

The Bad: His skating has improved somewhat, but it's still below average and his first few steps are underwhelming. He has a decent work ethic, but Phillips won't be a physical game threat unless he bulks up a lot.

Projection: He could be a great second-line forward.

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7. Brett Bulmer, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 04/26/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 193
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 53 GP, 34 G, 62 P (Kelowna-WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 39th overall in 2010 by Minnesota

The Good: Bulmer is a skilled power forward who has a desirable level of offensive tools for a big forward. He skates, handles the puck, and can set up teammates at a solid level. Bulmer is a smart two-way player who can be used as a defensive forward on the PK, but he shows he has good offensive instincts too through his vision and creativity. He's a hard player to play against because of his size, willingness to play physical, and the fact he likes to go after opponents before and after the whistle.

The Bad: Bulmer lacks a standout skill and scouts call him a player who is "good, but not great at anything." He also needs to bulk up a bit to fill out his big frame.

Projection: He could be an average second-line winger, and maybe even an above-average one.

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8. Jason Zucker, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 01/16/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 180
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 38 GP, 22 G, 46 P (University of Denver-WCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 59th overall in 2010 by Minnesota

The Good: Zucker is a plus skater who can absolutely fly, and due to the high level of energy he plays with, he makes for an absolute pest for defenders to deal with when he forechecks and when he comes barreling down in transition. He's not an overly creative player, but has good hands and can control the puck well, on top of making the odd man miss. He is a high-end shooter with a really quick release and the ability to snipe goals from mid-distance. Zucker is a very determined player who loves to play a physical game.

The Bad: His overall hockey sense is just okay and I'd say it's just more up and down than bad. Zucker's size is somewhat of a liability and even though he shows a fine physical game, how his strength level will hold up in the NHL is a question mark. He's a great skater and shooter, but his lack of ability to possess the puck makes his projection as a top-six player somewhat questionable.

Projection: He could be a below-average second-line forward.

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9. Mario Lucia, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 08/25/1993
Age: 18
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 56 GP, 42 G, 93 P (Penticton-BCHL)
Acquired: Second round, 60th overall in 2011 by Minnesota

The Good: Lucia is a skilled big forward with above-average puck skills and instincts with the ability to control play with his skill level and patience. He's got a fine skating stride and while he doesn't show above-average speed, there's enough in terms of mechanics and output that he can build on it from his current average level. He's a pretty diligent worker who gets back on defense and will drive the physical areas.

The Bad: Lucia needs to work on his body as he's still a little gangly and can't really utilize his big frame as much as he could. He's shown good skill the last few seasons, but has yet to be really tested by his quality of competition.

Projection: He has top-six upside but is a long way away.

10. Erik Haula, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 9th
Date of birth: 03/23/1991
Age: 21
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 174
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 43 GP, 20 G, 49 P (University of Minnesota-WCHA)
Acquired: Seventh round, 182nd overall in 2009 by Minnesota

The Good: Haula is a solid skater and arguably above-average as he's developed that area of his game well and looked a little faster than he was last year. He's a skilled offensive player whose best traits are his hockey sense and playmaking skills. Haula can create by himself at a fine level, but is better as a passer. He has a good on-ice work ethic and doesn't mind playing a physical brand of hockey.

The Bad: Physically, Haula still needs to add a bunch of strength and likely projects as a replacement-level physical player. His defense could use some work, too. He lacks standout offensive skills which you want in a smaller forward.

Projection: He could be an average pro.

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The Next Five

11. Matt Hackett, Goaltender: He's very athletic in net, showing good poise and overall technique in terms of squaring up pucks and playing his angles. His body still needs more development.

12. Tyler Cuma, Defense: He skates well and can play fine in his own end, but his upside is underwhelming.

13. Christoph Bertschy, Center: He's a little small, but has above-average possession skills.

14. Darcy Kuemper, Goaltender: He's a huge, competitive goalie but has to work on rounding out the finer aspects of his game.

15. Johan Gustafsson, Goaltender: He's another big goalie who has good reflexes, makes fine reads, and was dominant in Sweden this season

The Sleeper: Raphael Bussieres, Left Wing

He's got pretty good upside between his skating, frame, and playmaking but was inconsistent this year.

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Minnesota Wild Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Mikael Granlund, Center
2. Jonas Brodin, Defense
3. Matt Dumba, Defense
4. Marco Scandella, Defense
5. Charlie Coyle, Center
6. Johan Larsson, Center
7. Zack Phillips, Center
8. Jared Spurgeon, Defense
9. Brett Bulmer, Right Wing
10. Jason Zucker, Left Wing

Scandella and Spurgeon both logged very tough minutes for young defenders this year, which was somewhat due to the quality of the Wild defense. I don't see Scandella as a top-end player but he's the kind of defenseman who does everything well and will be a steady top-four defender and likely a very good one for many years. Spurgeon has offensive talent, but it's the fact he's been able to handle the physical aspects of the NHL for his size is a good indicator for his future.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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The Blue Line (07/31)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (07/25)
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Top 10 Prospects (08/06)
Next Article >>
Top 10 Prospects (08/06)

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