Minnesota Wild: An Update on Granlund, Brodin and the Top 10 Prospects Right Now

Tom SchreierCorrespondent INovember 28, 2012

Minnesota Wild: An Update on Granlund, Brodin and the Top 10 Prospects Right Now

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    Years of missing the playoffs and a couple savvy trades have allowed the Wild to stockpile talent in their farm system.

    Aside from the offseason signings which brought Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to Minnesota, many of the fans rest their faith on the development of players like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin to transform the Wild into contenders into the near future.

    The following is a quick look at how Minnesota’s top prospects are doing right now.

10. Johan Gustafsson, Goaltender

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    Drafted: 159th overall, 2010

    Age: 20

    Current Team: Lulea HF, Elitserien

    Stats: 11-6-0, 1.63 GAA, .931 save percentage in 17 games

    Not to be confused with the Jonas Gustavsson of the Detroit Red Wings, Johan Gustafsson is a goaltending prospect for Minnesota.

    He may not have the potential of Matt Hackett, who has already played in NHL games, but Gustafsson led the Swedish junior team to a championship in 2012 and has played well in the Swedish Elite League this year.

9. Erik Haula, Left Wing

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    Drafted: 182nd overall, 2009

    Age: 21

    Current Team: University of Minnesota, WCHA

    Stats: 6 goals, 16 points in 13 games

    Erik Haula may have been born in Finland, but he’s essentially a hometown kid.

    You may have seen him play at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s prep in Faribault, you can go see him play at the U of M and if you were in downtown Stillwater last July and saw a dude peeing in the road after the bars had closed, there’s a good chance that was him.

    Yes, like all of us, Haula has to break the seal after a night on the town; the only difference is that we all aren’t scoring more than a point per game for the No. 3 ranked Golden Gophers.

8. Mario Lucia, Left Wing

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    Drafted: 60th overall, 2011

    Age: 19

    Current Team: University of Notre Dame, CCHA

    Stats: 1 goal, 2 points in 4 games

    Son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia and brother of San Jose Sharks prospect Tony Lucia, Mario is another local guy.

    He grew up in Plymouth, Minn., played for Wayzata High School and is currently at Notre Dame.

    Lucia started the season late due to a leg injury, but has already put points on the board in his first few games back.

7. Johan Larsson, Center

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    Drafted: 56th overall, 2010

    Age: 20

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 5 goals, 11 points in 18 games

    Coming over from the Swedish Elite League, Johan Larsson saw a significant increase in points (eight to 36) in his first two seasons in his native Sweden.

    At 5’11”, 198 lbs., he’s a smaller forward but is known as a hard-working, cerebral player that could find his way into the Wild lineup in years to come.

6. Zack Phillips, Center

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    Drafted: 28th overall, 2011

    Age: 20

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 1 goal, 7 assists in 16 games

    Zack Phillips tallied 80 points for the mighty Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) last season.

    Currently with the Houston Aeros, Phillips is not scoring at the rate he did in the Q and needs to be more consistent if he’s going to be an impact player at the next level.

5. Matt Hackett, Goaltender

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    Drafted: 77th overall, 2009

    Age: 22

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 6-5-2, 2.90 GAA, .898 save percentage in 14 games

    Matt Hackett already has some NHL experience under his belt. He went 3-6-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .921 save percentage in 12 games last season.

    This year, he is honing his skills with the Aeros while the NHL remains locked out.

    It’s been a rough start, but at the beginning of the year, there was some thought that he’d get a little playing time in the big leagues again this season.

4. Mathew Dumba, Defenseman

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    Drafted: Seventh overall, 2012

    Age: 18

    Current Team: Red Deer Rebels, WHL

    Stats: 6 goals, 14 points in 26 games

    Mathew Dumba is in his fourth WHL season this year and has established himself as one of the hardest-hitting defensemen in the Canadian junior ranks.

    Dumba racks up penalty minutes—he had 83 two years ago—but the Calgary native also has a scorer’s touch—he had 57 points last season.

    In order to get to the NHL, he must work on his defensive game knowing that he’s not always going to be able to find the twine or knock an opponent off of his skates in every game.

3. Jonas Brodin, Defensemen

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    Drafted: 10th overall, 2011

    Age: 19

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 2 goals, 4 points in 8 games

    Unfortunately for the Wild, both Jonas Brodin and Mikael Granlund got injured while playing in Houston this year.

    Brodin broke his clavicle on a hit from Edmonton Oilers superstar Taylor Hall and may have his development hampered as a result. There was some speculation he could have made the big league roster this year.

    Known for his defensive tenacity, Brodin did not score a goal and only had 12 points in 94 games with Farjestads BK in Sweden the last three years.

2. Charlie Coyle, Right Wing

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    Drafted: 28th overall, 2010 (acquired in trade with San Jose Sharks)

    Age: 20

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 7 goals, 11 points in 18 games

    A Massachusetts native, Coyle left Boston University midseason last year to join the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. His stated reason was that he wanted a quicker path to the NHL.

    He had only 14 points in 16 games with BU, but saw his production ramp up in Saint John, finishing the season with 38 points in 23 games.

    Coyle isn’t scoring as frequently in the AHL and will need to step it up in order to make the Wild roster. Along with Mikael Granlund, he is considered a critical piece if Minnesota wants to be competitive in the future.

1. Mikael Granlund, Center

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    Drafted: Ninth overall, 2010

    Age: 20

    Current Team: Houston Aeros, AHL

    Stats: 4 goals, 12 points in 8 games

    There was a lot of hype surrounding Mikael Granlund at the beginning of the season, and before he got injured, he was living up to the billing.

    After tallying 127 points in the Finnish SM-liiga, Granlund came to the AHL with a reputation as a playmaker. That’s not to say he can’t score on his own, as evidenced by his highlight reel lacrosse-style goal against Russia in the IIHF World Championships last year.

    It looks like he’s going to be something special once he comes back.

     

    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com and contributes to Hockey’s Future and Stadium Journey.