In part 5 of our top 31 series, the Minnesota Wild takes the cake with the fifth-best prospect base in the NHL. After years of mediocrity and a lack of star power, the Wild have two potential NHL stars in the making. They also have a depth of prospects few NHL teams currently have. Without further ado, here are the top 10 Minnesota Wild prospects.
1. W Kirill Kaprizov 5’9 201 Minnesota (NHL) 43-17-19-36-14
Kaprizov has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season and has had an instant impact. He is a unique talent who can drive play and control the pace of a game. While only 5’9, Kaprizov uses his edges well and uses his strength to keep defenders at bay. At 23 years old, Kaprizov has had incredible NHL success and will likely win the Calder Trophy for top NHL rookie. He is a player worth watching Minnesota Wild games for alone. He is already a first-line NHL player and the sky is the limit for him.
2. C Marco Rossi 5’9 183 SUI 1-0-1-1-0
Rossi was at the top of my Wild prospect list when the season begins and could potentially usurp Kaprizov in terms of ceiling. However, Rossi’s season was completely derailed by COVID-19. After a lengthy recovery in November, Rossi returned to play for Austria at the World Junior Championship and just didn’t look himself. Once he made it to Minnesota to attend training camp, it was discovered that COVID-19 had caused more damage to Rossi’s body than previously expected. He was immediately shut down for the season and has been at home in Austria recovering. It is believed he will make a full recovery and be ready for next season.
The 9th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Rossi is a well-rounded offensive talent. Build similarly to Kaprizov, Rossi isn’t big, but he is strong and uses his edges well to create space for himself. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Rossi can drive play and create amazing plays in tight spaces. Depending on his recovery timeline, he could start next season in the NHL. He has the potential to be a number one center at the NHL level.
3. W Matt Boldy 6’2 192 HE 22-11-20-31-4
Boldy struggled a bit last season in his transition to NCAA. However, this season he has been a revelation. The 12th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Boldy possesses excellent hands and is solid off the rush. His shot is NHL ready, though his defensive game could use a little work. Boldy can play in all situations and accelerates in generating shots from the wing. More of a goal-scorer than a playmaker, Boldy has also managed over a point-per-game in the AHL in four games once his NCAA season finished. He is a potential top-six forward at the NHL level and is a candidate for the Wild’s top six next season.
4. C Alex Khovanov 5’11 196 KHL 7-0-0-0-2
This season has been a bit of a wash for Khovanov, though I’m still really high on him. After averaging over a point-per-game in QMJHL for three consecutive seasons, Khovanov returned to Russia where creating offense has been somewhat of a struggle. That being said, Khovanov’s pass play has shown he can produce points and I still see him as a potential top-six forward the NHL level. Khovanov possesses excellent instincts and vision, using his hands to create time and space for his teammates. it is expected Khovanov will be at training camp in the fall. He will likely need a year in the AHL before making the jump to full-time NHL duty.
5. G Kaapo Kahkonen 6’2 215 Minnesota (NHL) 20 2.66 .910
Kahkonen has been a wonderful surprise for the Wild. The 2014 fourth-round pick has been dubbed the goalie of the future and he hasn’t looked out of place in full-time duty this season. Kahkonen has dominated at every level. He possesses excellent instincts, a large frame, and an uncanny ability to anticipate the play cross-crease. Like most young goalies, Kahkonen needs some improvement with consistency. He is will on his way to becoming an NHL level and is packing a nice one-two punch with current Wild starter Cam Talbot.
6. D Calen Addison 5’11 180 AHL 21-6-11-17-31
After averaging roughly a point-per-game in the WHL for three seasons, Addison has put up similar numbers in the AHL. Addison excels at the offensive side of the game and loves quarterbacking the powerplay. He has an excellent first pass and loves to jump up into the play. Addison isn’t as dynamic as other offensive-minded defenders, but his instincts make him a constant threat. The Wild will likely use a defender in the Expansion draft. If this is the case, Addison is the first in line for full-time NHL duty.
7. C/W Adam Beckman 6’1 187 WHL 12-9-7-16-2
The Wild have been hitting on mid to late draft picks and Beckman is another in a long list. The 2019 third-round pick was one of the top WHL point producers during the 2019-2020 season and easily could have led the league if not for a shortened campaign. Beckman, the 2020 WHL player of the year, is extremely well-rounded offensively, though he is more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer. He has the makings of a middle-six forward at the NHL level. He is likely two seasons away from NHL duty.
8. C Marat Khusnutdinov 5’11 176 KHL 12-0-2-2-2
A highly entertaining player, Khusnutdinov comes highly underrated. The 2020 second-round pick looked excellent at the World Junior Championship, though offense has been somewhat of an issue at the KHL level. Khusnutdinov has elite hands and is creative in the offensive zone. He makes daring plays and could have a high ceiling. His biggest weakness is defense and strength. Khusnutdinov is in need of a few years of seasoning and rounding out his game. He is a potential top-six forward at the NHL level.
9. D Ryan O’Rourke 6’0 178 AHL 23-1-5-6-20
The Wild have a handful of solid defensive prospects and O’Rourke may be the most well-rounded. The 2020 second-rounder has been playing in the AHL as an 18-year-old and has done exceptionally well. O’Rourke is a well-rounded defender who can play in all situations. He can quarterback a powerplay, excel on the penalty kill, and move the puck quickly out of the defensive zone. Even with some AHL success, O’Rourke needs some more development time. He will likely return to the OHL next season and play at least one more season in the AHL before full-time NHL duty. O’Rourke projects as a second-pairing defender at the NHL level.
10. W Vlad Firstov 6’1 181 HE 13-3-9-12-12
The University of Connecticut has spent significant time recruiting talent from overseas. Vlad Firstov was a top recruit a few seasons back and it has been a great partnership. The 2019 second-round rounder plays a powerful style of hockey. He is excellent off the rush and loves to use his frame to his advantage. Questions surround just what type of player he will become at the NHL level, though at worst he looks like a third-line winger. Firstov will likely play one more season in the NCAA before spending a season or two in the AHL.