2009 Minnesota Wild Draft Preview: Centers

Joseph GuntherContributor IJune 24, 2009

OSHAWA, ON - JANUARY 14:  John Tavares #91 of Team Orr skates in the 2009 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Cherry on Wednesday January 14, 2009 at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ontario. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 6-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Wild has more depth at center than it does on the wings, but a center is more likely to be its first-round pick in the NHL Draft Friday.

It has four returning centers in Mikko Koivu, James Sheppard, Eric Belanger, and Peter Olvecky. Olvecky is a restricted free agent that is expected to be back.

In the system, the Wild has one of the leading scorers in the American Hockey League, Corey Locke, the best player in Denmark, Morten Madsen, and a former Cretin-Derham Hall star and current Wisconsin Badger, Chris Hickey.

Koivu and Sheppard are first-line centers; Belanger and Olvecky are suited best for the checking-line role.

Locke, who was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens last summer, is the most NHL-ready center in the organization. Madsen is close and should get a call up during this season. Just two seasons ago, Madsen recorded 100 points in 62 games for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. That was his final season in juniors before joining the Houston Aeros.

Hickey did not get a lot of playing time in his freshman year for the Badgers last season. His arrival to the professional game will depend on the playing time he gets in the next couple years, but he will probably finish all four years in Madison.

For more information on the top North American and European prospects click here.