After the week-long NHL development camp, the next generation of Minnesota Wild prospects have created some buzz for the future of the franchise. Highlighted by a pair of scrimmages that were open to the public, a few players impressed fans and coaches with superior talent. Others, including a few players that have an opportunity to crack the NHL roster this season, hardly looked like top-tier talent
After attending both scrimmages, here are the players I believe rose and fell based on their play.
Matt Dumba, D
I understand that this might be low-hanging fruit, but Matt Dumba looked fantastic. He was expected to look like a man among boys and he did not disappoint. Despite showing few offensive flashes, Dumba was nearly flawless in the defensive zone and his anticipation was superior to everyone on the ice. It seemed he was a few steps ahead of the play in every situation. Of course it’s easy to look good against inferior competition, but I believe Matt Dumba will play significant minutes for the Minnesota Wild next season.
Guillaume Gelinas, D
After an unbelievable 2013-14 season for Val-d’Or of the QMJHL in which he scored 92 points in 67 games, Gelinas was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Minnesota Wild. Based on the way he moves the puck and his fluid skating stride, the Wild may have found a diamond in the rough.
Gelinas was a great distributor in both scrimmages and moved his feet well to get into advantageous positions. In addition, he scored in both games, one with a lightning-quick wrister on Friday, and another off a rebound Monday. The 21-year-old has an outside shot at playing a few NHL games this season, but will likely spend the majority of the year with the Iowa Wild.
Reid Duke, F
This year’s 6th round pick scored a pair of goals on Monday, although the second one was pretty bad goaltending. He also got into a scrap after his first goal.
Zack Mitchell, F
Mitchell was so-so on Friday. He scored a beautiful wrap-around goal on a solo effort and was around the net a lot on Monday.
Gustav Olofsson, D
He played with Matt Dumba in both scrimmages. Simply put, they dominated.
This isn’t to say Folin played poorly in the scrimmages, but I honestly expected more from him. For a player labeled as a puck-moving defenseman, he had a few suspect turnovers. He usually had the right idea as to where to move the puck, although it was picked off or off the mark on too many occasions. He hardly dominated like I had hoped he would and looked very average in both games.
Based on just the scrimmages, I would give Dumba the nod over Folin to make the Wild roster next season.
Michael Keranen, F
The Swedish-born forward who has excelled in the Finnish Elite League hardly stood out in the Minnesota Wild development camp. At 24, Keranen didn’t look more mature or more talented than the rest of the players. If he plays that way in the AHL, his tenure with the Wild won’t last very long.
Raphael Bussieres, F
The 2012 Wild draft pick hasn’t progressed the way most expected he would. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes, but average play won’t make the Wild roster anytime soon.
Louie Belpedio, D
Belpedio has time on his side since he is so young, but he looked scared at times against much bigger competition.
Now, do I claim to know how all of these players looked in practices and other aspects of camp? Of course not. These are simply my interpretation of the way they played in the scrimmages. Many things could have happened behind closed doors that I don’t know about. But for the sake of this article, these are my evaluations based on what I saw.
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