What does Dion Phanuef, Alexander Smid, Sheldon Souray and Logan Couture have in common? All these players were selected ninth overall in their Entry Draft year and this year, Minnesota has an opportunity to pick up a high prized player with the ninth overall selection in this years draft.
Minnesota is stacked in the system with defensmen, and with the trade for Cam Barker last season, it seems the Wild is much stronger on the back end of the ice.
As for the offensive side of the puck, it was obvious that besides a few players, Minnesota lacked offensive depth, which is why the Wild will pick up offensive players this time around.
There are three names circulating around the Wild organization as possible draft picks, next we will break down their stats and attributes around the ice.
Ryan Johansen - C - Portland, WHL
A 6'2" center, Johansen would definitely bring some size to a very undersized Minnesota front corp.
A smart player as well, he models his game play after his favorite player Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.
"I go on NHL.com every once in awhile and try and watch his games and just learn tips from him kind of. He's outstanding to me, his play-making ability and vision just blows me away,” Johansson said.
Johansen ranked second among all rookies in scoring with 69 points (25-44-69) last season in the WHL.
NHL's central scouting B.J MacDonald had this to say about Johansen:
"He has good on-ice vision and also angles well on the forecheck. He has the intelligence to play power-play as well as penalty kill. He can be shifty and has the ability to beat a defenseman one-on-one. Once he fills out and gains more strength he could turn raw talent into a valuable center at both ends of rink. He has displayed nice playmaking capabilities and this should continue at the next level."
Portland Winterhawks Head Coach Mike Johnston:
"Ryan Johansen has really good vision. He’s a prototypical big center – good hands, good vision, distributes the puck well, and protects the puck well in order to make plays. He’s a young kid who we use in a lot of different situations, the power play, penalty kill and key faceoffs."
Ryan could make a very good compliment to Pierre-Marc Bouchard who is a speedy puck moving skater.
Placed between Hvalat and Latandresse that could very well be another high producing scroing line to compliment Koivu, Brunette and Miettinnen.
Alexander Burmistrov - C - Barrie, OHL
This guy could be the next closest thing to Marian Gaborik that Minnesota could get for a long time.
This lightspeed fast skater with great eyes and moves could be the Wild's next young star.
He produced over a point-per-game in his first year in the OHL and his 43 assists ranked fourth on the Colts last season.
During the OHL playoffs, he posted 16 points (8-8-16) in 17 games.
Shorter than Johansen at 5'11", Burmistrov makes up for it with devilish speed. Imagine him and Casey Wellman on a line, that's enough speed to keep any defensive pairing in the league scared.
Director of NHL Central Scouting E.J McGurie:
“He's like a water spider out there on the ice. Light on his feet, but he's got a venomous strike like a snake when he goes on the offense. Speed and agility, great fakes and he'll bring players, fans, alike out of their seats. I'd compare him with a (Alexei) Kovalev, (Sergei) Samsonov or (Maxim) Afinogenov.”
Barrie Colts Head Coach Marty Williamson:
"He's got a great hockey IQ, and is a wonderful skater. He has a habit of playing well above his size and has a great feel for timing on the ice. He battles hard and is continually working on his shot to become an effective scorer, but he is a great passer and has great vision on the ice."
Alex could be the speed guy GM Chuck Fletcher is looking for, he does have a little size but his play-making abilities could also make other players around him better.
Burmistrov models his game play after his favorite player in Pavel Datsyuk.
Brett Connolly - RW - Prince George, WHL
Overall the third ranked player in this year's Entry Draft Connolly is a gifted forward who can put pucks in the net.
Some draft analysts put him lower on the draft record because of an injury plagued last season where he only player 16 games for Prince George.
However when we was healthy a year ago, he was on fire.
In the 2008-2009 season he posted 60 points (30-30-60) in 65 games with the Cougars.
A big guy at 6'2", he could be that great forechecker with Cal Clutterbuck on his side because Connolly finished his checks.
NHL's Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan:
“He puts the puck in the net, he's got good size, great on-ice awareness. He's not a crasher or a banger, but he finishes his checks. He does everything well."
Prince George Cougars Head Coach Dean Clark:
"Brett is a very gifted player and it's too bad we haven't been able to see more of him this season because of his injury. Brett can take over a game with his skill and puck control and he's also a very intelligent player. He has always been a dependable player at both ends of the ice, whether it be five-on-five or on special teams and he's a real competitive kid. When the game is on the line, he wants to be out there to make a difference."
Connolly's play is like that of Rick Nash, a strong power forward who has the ability to score.
he could helpful in sustaining offensive zone pressure and creating offense on the rush.
Either one of these three remarkable athletes would make a fine addition to the Minnesota Wild. Each one posses qualities as skill that the team needs and would be another piece of the puzzle added to help build that winning franchise the state of hockey wants.
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