Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top 20 prospects in the system.
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August 31-in-31: Minnesota Wild
As the fifteenth team, the Minnesota Wild mark the approximate midpoint of DobberProspects’ August 31 in 31 series. The Wild— who have never won a Stanley Cup in their 19 year history— missed the playoffs in 2018-19 after three consecutive first round playoff exits.
The Wild currently find themselves in an extremely tumultuous state. Team owner Craig Leipold fired Paul Fenton after allowing him to conduct the entire offseason up to that time, including the two most crucial events of the summer: free agency and the NHL Entry Draft. When the team announces their next general manager, it will be their third in just two years time.
The now-vacant GM spot aside, it’s been a relatively uneventful summer for the Wild in the transactions department. They signed Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman, as well as a few other minor additions, in free agency. Earlier in the year, they inked Nico Sturm and Mat Robson out of college. Sturm could help the Wild as soon as next season, while Robson is at least a couple years out.
The Wild have some talent in their prospect pool, but don’t have much in the form of immediate help for next season. Nico Sturm played two NHL games last year and possesses a stellar college resume, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be an impactful player this early and could very well require some AHL seasoning first. Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin will need to take significant steps forward to be anything more than bottom-sixers next year. Louie Belpedio and Brennan Menell could see cups of coffee, but neither appear to be ready for full-time NHL duty yet.
In a years time— the 2020-21 season—the Wild could see a significant influx of new talent. Matthew Boldy is tracking to be ready for full-time NHL action at that point, and most importantly, Kirill Kaprizov— barring a KHL extension— will be eligible to come to North America.
Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato both spent the majority of their seasons at the NHL level, and are expected to graduate into full time NHL duty next season.
The 15th overall pick in 2016, Luke Kunin split time between the NHL and AHL this season. Along with 20 points in 28 AHL contests, Kunin tallied 6 goals and 11 assists in 49 games of NHL time. Next season he’s expected to see a full NHL season in a middle-six role for the Wild.
Donato was traded to the Wild at