When you really think about it, the Minnesota Wild are banking on the play of five prospects next season.
Forwards Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker and defenseman Jonas Brodin will have to play like, well, established players if Minnesota is going to be successful next season.
I know that people don’t really think of them as prospects because all five players had significant time in the NHL last season, but all of them are in their early 20s and all could easily see a stint in the minors next season (Yes, even Brodin. He’s not superhuman).
Think about it: Mikael Granlund was supposed to be a surefire No. 2 center last season. He was set up to succeed. Mikko Koivu was going to be on the top line, the acquisition of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter was going to take the pressure off of him, and he had two linemates who had scored 30 goals or more in at least one season during their career: Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley.
Granlund began the year with a bang but ended up in the minors due to a lack of production and suspect defense.
He eventually came back, but by all means, he is still a prospect.
I realize that guys like Coyle and Brodin looked like seasoned veterans last year, but if the sophomore slump gets them, they will be sent to Des Moines to round out their games.
There are veterans on this team like Parise, Suter, Koivu, Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley who will be expected to carry their weight, but the Wild are really banking on the production of five prospects this season.
This shouldn’t get you down: Each prospect offers something exciting to look for next season.