The 2019 NHL Draft is a big event for teams undergoing a rebuild or thinking about starting one. The Minnesota Wild draft will be no exception. They have an ageing core and a poorly rated farm system. General manager Paul Fenton has some interesting times in his future if he is going to get Minnesota back in the playoffs soon.
2019 Minnesota Wild Draft Outlook – Offense
With the 12th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Minnesota isn’t in a position to grab an immediate difference maker. Most of the truly elite players are likely off the board by the time Minnesota is on the clock. That puts them in an interesting position for forwards: do they go with the “best player available”, or should they pivot to someone that makes sense for the team given it’s current or projected makeup? Even if pick 12 isn’t all that exciting, there are still several names that should interest Wild fans. Each prospect listed here has been scouted by our own Ben Kerr, but click on each name for the full profile and breakdown.
Options at Pick 12 – The Favourites
The player most fans should hope is available at this pick is Alex Newhook. The BCHL product was an absolute unit for the Victoria Grizzlies, scoring 102 points in 54 regular season games. His skating, shot, and instincts all rate highly according to most breakdowns. The one concern is his competition in the BCHL and if his junior league dominance can translate to the NHL game. If that causes him to drop, he should absolutely be Minnesota’s selection. Newhook projects to be a top six center in the league with a few seasons of development in college and/or the AHL.
If Newhook is unavailable at 12, Vasili Podkolzin is a popular projected pick. The 6-foot-1, 190=pound Russian winger has a general reputation of being the sort of grinding, finishing wing that thrills fans and agitates opponents. He was productive across multiple levels of lower-tier hockey in his home country but does have some question marks attached. Podkolzin currently has two years left on a contract with SKA St. Petersburg and has indicated he intends to finish that commitment. There are also issues with his skating stride, but there’s time to correct that. Assuming he comes over in 2020-2021, he’d project for a top-six spot with plenty of power play time.
Another option for Minnesota is Hamilton Bulldogs forward Arthur Kaliyev. He scored 50 goals as a 17-year old in the OHL and has an elite shot in his arsenal. Kaliyev could be a great option on the wing with his size (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) at both 5-on-5 and on the man advantage. However, many scouting reports have questioned his effort and pace. Despite the concerns about his mental game, Kaliyev would be one of the best forward options based on his pure scoring ability. That is something Minnesota desperately needs with their primary scorers ageing rather swiftly.
Two other forwards look like good fits for Minnesota in round 1. Centres Ryan Suzuki and Peyton Krebs could also be available when the Wild pick. Suzuki is the brother of Montreal prospect Nick Suzuki and has plenty of skating and puck handling ability, but criticisms about his physical game and a lack of wow in his OHL production.
Krebs did just about everything for a Kootenay team that ultimately moved to Winnipeg as the WHL season wrapped up. He isn’t as big as Suzuki, but reports like his physical effort more. If Minnesota goes with Krebs, they will need to contend with a partially torn Achilles suffered during offseason training.
Options at pick 42:
The second round would see a number of forwards as potential options. One strong option is Jamieson Rees. The 5-foot-11 left-handed centre scored 32 points in 37 games for Sarnia. He projects somewhere in the middle of the round, where the Wild have the 42nd pick. Also consider Nicholas Robertson from the OHL’s Peterborough Petes or Albin Grewe from the Djurgårdens junior system. He should be in the SHL next year.
The Minnesota Wild draft class won’t generate a truly elite player, but that’s nothing to worry about. The team is likely entering a rebuild that will see major roster changes in the next couple of seasons as they move towards a younger team the scores more easily. The draft is a big part of acquiring players to fit that model. Considering how competitive the Central Division looks, the Wild could take a slower approach to rebuilding the franchise. Check back through the week for more pre-draft coverage.
Main Photo: NEWARK, NJ – JUNE 30: (L-R) Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton of the Nashville Predators speaks with hockey analyst Ray Ferraro during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)