The Minnesota Wild prospect team faced the St. Louis Blues prospect team 5-1 on Friday night. While there were plenty of mistakes, it also provided good insight as some newer prospects showed their skills. The Wild team was only about half of the prospects, with the other half of the players being invitees. Prospects who play in Europe or in the KHL were not included because their seasons have already started.
Brett McLean’s first time behind the bench as head coach of the Iowa Wild happened on Friday night. McLean took over the job in June and has been preparing for the upcoming season all summer.
He framed the prospect tournament as a good chance to see how the staff works together. In a pregame interview, he said, “One thing I know as a head coach is that it’s about the staff.” This tournament was a good way to start setting a rhythm for the coaching staff.
McLean wanted to know more about the prospects than just their skills. “Can you play with your skill in a team structure?” McLean said. He noted that it’s important that prospects can learn to use their skills within the Wild structure specifically.
Sammy Walker wore the A, along with Simon Johansson and Ryan O’Rourke. As both an older and more experienced player, it was nice to see Walker take on more of a leadership role. As a smaller player, he was playing a bigger game than expected. He seemed to own the ice whenever he was skating. He tied with Rasmus Kumpulainen for team-high shots on goal with 5 shots each.
Jesper Wallstedt saved 21 out of 26 shots. A few saves were deemed “point-blank robberies” by the announcers. Wallstedt also showed how he anticipates a shot and positions himself quickly. He plays a similar style to Filip Gustavsson. They are both calculated and calm in the net.
Other Notable Wild Prospects
- Carson Lambos showed that he’s a two-way defenseman. He’s strong on the blueline while also having a nose for offense. He’ll gain valuable development time in Iowa this year.
- Pavel Novak was able to take the ice after beating cancer last year. He attended rookie camp this summer but wasn’t able to skate due to injury. Novak looked great on the ice but lost a tooth in the process.
- Hunter Haight scored the only goal for the game in the third period with a wrist shot from the far side of the right circle.
- Rasmus Kumpulainen showed off his skills. He draws a penalty on this play after he dances around a few defenders on his way to the net.
- The Wild had a noticeable amount of faceoff wins. For a team that is worried about depth up the middle, there are many prospects coming in with great potential.
- The Wild didn’t win the number of goals, but they did outshoot the Blues 33-26.
- The Wild power play had a great showing during the first. There was a lot of patience and waiting for good opportunities instead of panicking.
The Wild prospect team will face off against the Chicago Blackhawks prospect team on Sunday at 3 p.m. This game will also be streamed on the Wild’s YouTube channel. While there’s a lot of excitement around Connor Bedard playing in the showcase, there are indications that he may only play on Saturday against the Blues.