2023-24 NHL Prospect Pool Breakdown: Minnesota Wild


When Bill Guerin took over as GM of the Minnesota Wild in 2019, the team was in an interesting postion, prospect-wise.

Kirill Kaprizov was still in Russia, Matt Boldy was fresh on the scene and the team’s future in net appeared to lie with Kaapo Kahkonen. It was a very “meh” prospect pool, with many of the team’s top youngsters at the time never making it to the big leagues.

But things started looking up once Kaprizov and Boldy made it to the NHL. The on-ice production improved. And seemingly, the scouting department kept finding value no matter where they drafted. Suddenly, they’ve built one of the most robust pipelines in the league.

The sheer depth of this group is enormous. Jesper Wallstedt is the goalie most scouts seem to pinpoint as the best prospect at his position on the planet. Then there’s Marco Rossi, who, after some trials along the way, should finally cement himself as a full-time NHLer. Add in Brock Faber on defense, and those are three high-end prospects alone.

But it goes much further than that. They’ve got tremendous young scorers, such as Liam Ohgren and Danila Yurov. They’ve got size in Charlie Stramel. Carson Lambos and Jack Peart might even become serviceable defensemen. The team looks to be in good shape with a core that already includes Boldy, Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Filip Gustavsson, and, potentially, Calen Addison.

Biggest Strength

You could go a few ways here, but I like the potential for top-six scoring support. I still believe Rossi can achieve that status – I think too many people forget he’s just 21. I’m a big believer in Öhgren and Yurov, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Riley Heidt’s defensive game improves enough to the point where the Wild will be willing to give him a chance up high. You’re banking heavy on potential here, but I like where the Wild have positioned themselves with their forward crop.

Biggest Weakness

After Faber, do the Wild have enough on the blueline? Calen Addison is an offensive defenseman who started off strong but has struggled defensively. If he doesn’t become the answer, is there someone else out there who can have a similar impact? I don’t see it. I think Lambos and Peart could become bottom-pairing options, but it starts to fall off afterward.


Marco Rossi (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Grade: A

1. Jesper Wallstedt, G, 20 (Iowa, AHL)

Drafted: No. 20, first round in 2021

Wallstedt almost feels underrated by the average fan, and he shouldn’t be. Taken 20th overall in 2021, the 6-foot-3 goaltender had a strong first year in North America with Iowa. His numbers don’t come close to fellow elite goalie prospect Dustin Wolf’s, but an 18-15-5 record with a .908 save percentage as a rookie No. 1 is nothing to sneeze at. Stylistically, Wallstedt has everything going for me. He’s mature, controls his movements as well as anyone and has the size NHL teams love. Another year in the AHL won’t hurt, but almost every scout I’ve talked to thinks Wallstedt will be a certified NHL star before too long.

2. Marco Rossi, C, 21 (Minnesota Wild)

Drafted: No. 9, first round in 2020

Missing most of 2020-21 due to health problems attributed to COVID-19 didn’t help Rossi’s development. The high-scoring OHL star had to spend 2021-22 playing catch-up, but he put up great numbers in the AHL. He made the Wild out of camp in 2022 and looked ready to challenge for the Calder Trophy. Instead, he had just one assist in 19 games and was sent back to Iowa. The two-way center just missed the point-per-game mark with 51 in 53 games, but it was still significant progress. He also was Austria’s best player at the men’s World Hockey Championship, saving the team from relegation. Will he finally crack the roster full-time in 2023-24, or will the Wild elect to move him elsewhere for a fresh start? Hopefully, for the fanbase, the former happens.

Brock Faber (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

3. Brock Faber, D, 20 (Minnesota Wild)

Drafted: No. 45, second round in 2020/Traded to Minnesota in 2022

Acquired from Los Angeles in the deal that sent Kevin Fiala to California, Faber is the best defensive prospect in the Wild’s system. And he came at the right time, giving them some life after lacking depth on the blueline. Faber is a great skater that uses his speed and agility to take away angles and make life difficult. He can suffocate opponents along the boards and land booming hits regularly. Faber also notably represented USA at the 2022 Olympics, proving he could handle quality competition.

4. Liam Öhgren, LW, 19 (Farjestad, SHL)

Drafted: No. 19, first round in 2022

With Djurgardens down in the Allsvenskan for 2022-23, Öhgren had every opportunity to shine as a second-year pro. He had a quiet run at the world juniors with Sweden, but he finished fourth among U-20 scorers with 11 goals and 20 points. He has good size, an excellent release, and a strong playmaker, and his skating is solid enough. If he can add a bit more top speed, he’ll be able to take his game further. Still, Öhgren projects to be a top-six scoring winger in the NHL, and he’ll have the chance to shine in the SHL.

5. Danila Yurov, RW, 19 (Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL)

Drafted: No. 24, first round in 2022

There’s a very good chance Yurov would have gone much higher if it wasn’t for everything happening in Russia. Yurov is an excellent skater with fantastic puckhandling and shooting traits. But he got lost a bit playing a full year in the KHL, where kids typically are just roster fillers. He has dominated against his own age group and was among the best at every international tournament to date. I think Wild fans will love him by the time he comes over.

Marat Khusnutdinov (KHL Photo)

6. Marat Khusnutdinov, C/LW, 21 (SKA St. Petersburg, KHL)

Drafted: No. 37, second round in 2020

Khusnutdinov’s 41-point campaign was notable because it’s the eighth-highest output in a single season by a U-21 KHLer in league history. His closest comparable season? Kirill Kaprizov’s 42-point campaign in the same number of games (49) in 2016-17 as a 19-year-old. Khusnutdinov is small at 5-foot-9, but the skill is undeniable and he’s a hard-working, 200-foot player. He has one more year on his KHL deal – could we see him leaving SKA to come over sooner rather than later?

7. Riley Heidt, C, 18 (Prince George, WHL)

Drafted: No. 64, second round in 2023

One of the best point producers in the WHL, Heidt was a massive part of Prince George’s resurgence this year. I know scouts hoped to see him remain a consistent producer throughout the year – no issues there. It’s his play away from the puck that some are more concerned about. That’s the type of thing you work on with some AHL seasoning down the line, but I’m putting him ahead of Stramel – selected ahead of Heidt – due to the pure offensive potential.

8. Charlie Stramel, C, 18 (University of Wisconsin, NCAA)

Drafted: No. 21, first round in 2023

The 6-foot-3, 216-pound forward had an interesting freshman season at Wisconsin, scoring five goals and 12 points. He has size and isn’t afraid to use it, he’s challenging to take the puck off of and he’s a stout small-area passer. When you look at his size, it’s easy to label him a power forward, but he doesn’t generate offense like that. Put it this way: I wouldn’t want to go 1-on-1 with him along the boards. Right now, he needs to show he’s more than just a bruiser, but at least he started the year off with a nice run at the World Junior Summer Showcase.

Charlie Stramel (Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)

9. Carson Lambos, D, 20 (Iowa, AHL)

Drafted: No. 26, first round in 2021

Just about everyone was surprised to see Lambos not make the Canadian world junior team as a returning player. Instead, we saw a more well-rounded defender than we had seen before, with Lambos adding a bit more nastiness to his overall compete level. Lambos projects more as a bottom-four defender, and potentially more like a No. 5-6, but that’s fine. He’ll compete enough to make the most of it.

10. Jack Peart, D, 20 (St. Cloud State University, NCAA)

Drafted: No. 54, second round in 2021

If there’s one way of describing Peart’s NCAA tenure, it’s consistently effective. He’s a workhorse, likes to actively pressure attackers and puts himself where he needs to be in the defensive zone. Offensively, he plays a bit more basic and can be predictable, but he has been a solid contributor over the years. It’ll be interesting to see if he plays one more year of college or if he goes the distance.

Other notables: Rasmus Kumpulainen, C (17), James Clark, LW (18), Aaron Pionk, D (20), Marshall Warren, D (22), Ryan O’Rourke, D (21), Adam Beckman, LW (22), Hunter Haight, C (19), Caedan Bankier, C (20), Michael Milne, LW (20), Pavel Novak, RW (21), Servac Petrovsky, C (18), Rieger Lorenz, LW (19), Hunter Jones, G (22)

Previous 2023-24 NHL Prospect Pool instalments


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