The Minnesota Wild went from having the most points of any NHL team several weeks into the season to qualifying for a top-10 pick. They had top-tier talents but lacked the depth to have staying power or survive injuries.
There is no place they needed to add talent as much as on the blue line, where they drafted Mathew Dumba. They currently have just six NHL defencemen under contract, and that includes Nate Prosser, whose career comprises just 56 games with 13 points.
Steven Kampfer, a 5’11”, 197-lb. defencemen who turns 24 in September, has only five more games of NHL experience and two more points. Last season, he played just 23 games between Minnesota and the Boston Bruins, with five points and a minus-1 rating.
He just missed out having his name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup the previous season, scoring 10 points and going plus-9 in 38 games—two short of the minimum for player not used in the playoffs.
Even assuming they can re-sign their restricted free agents, it does not get much better.
Justin Falk is a month younger than Kampfer but bigger (6’5”, 215 lb.) and with 72 career games over the last three seasons. In 2011-12, he played 47 games with nine points, a minus-13 rating and 54 PIM.
Chay Genoway has just one NHL game (one assist) behind him. Jonas Brodin is the only other player in their system thought to be ready to make the leap.
A player with Dumba's talent should pass both of them. It is unlikely he will catch Falk, Prosser and Kampfer, but if there are two injuries, he would still make it to the top-6 by just holding his own in camp.
He was named captain of Team Canada at the 2012 Under-18 World Championships, where he was named the Best Defenceman with 12 points in seven games. He also captained Canada at the 2011 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, recording three points (2-1--3) in five games en route to a gold medal.
In 2011-12, he led all WHL defensemen in scoring with 20 goals and ranked sixth with 57 points (20-37--57) in 69 games. He was also WHL Rookie of the Year in 2010-11 with 26 points (15-11--26). His 15 goals ranked first among rookie defensemen and tied for seventh overall in the league.