Top 10 Minnesota Wild Prospects in 2023-24

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild’s prospect pool has consistently ranked at the top of the league. With salary cap issues ongoing for the next two years, the Wild have made good use of their draft picks to build up their future strategically. In this article, players who have already played games at the NHL level have been excluded. That includes Brock Faber, Sammy Walker, and Marco Rossi, among others. Here are the top 10 prospects as of July 2023.

Honorable Mention – Pavel Novák

Pavel Novák was one of the top prospects in Minnesota when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in June 2022, only a month after signing an entry-level contract with the Wild. Novák underwent treatment and announced in October 2022 that he had beat the cancer. After attending development camp in July 2023, Novák is determined to be ready for training camp in September 2023 and going on to play with the Iowa Wild next season. Before being diagnosed with cancer, Novak played for Kelowna Rockets in the WHL. He played 62 games during the 2021-22 season and ended the season with 72 points, including 29 goals and 43 assists. He’s known as a skilled playmaker. While it may take some time for Novák to get back into regular hockey shape, he’ll be one to watch during the next season.

10. Riley Heidt

Riley Heidt is a forward drafted by the Wild in 2023 during the second round. Playing for Prince George in the WHL last season, Heidt ended the season with 97 points in 68 games, including 25 goals and 72 assists. Heidt is a highly skilled and very physical skater. He’s a playmaker known for his great vision everywhere on the ice. The only downside is that Heidt can let his emotions get the best of him. Heidt is only 18, so there is still plenty of time to work on staying calm and consistent.

9. Daemon Hunt

Daemon Hunt spent last season in Iowa. In 29 games, Hunt scored 11 points (two goals and nine assists). While his rookie-year stats aren’t great, there are a few things to consider. Hunt started last season coming fresh off of an injury he sustained just before the World Juniors in August 2022. It’s also important to note that Hunt showed a lot of improvement and growth during his rookie year, even if that isn’t reflected in his stats. Hunt is a two-way defenseman with great mobility and a strong aptitude for battling for pucks along the boards. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he is called up to Minnesota for a few games this year if there are injuries or illnesses on the blue line.

8. Charlie Stramel

Another 2023 draft pick, Charlie Stramel, was the Wild’s first-round pick. Stramel will be starting his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin this fall. In 33 games with the University of Wisconsin, Stramel came away with 12 points, five goals, and seven assists. Those stats may look worrying for someone the Wild took with their top draft pick, but the entire Wisconsin team struggled immensely last season. They went 13-23 overall and 6-18 in the Big Ten. However, Stramel is one to watch in the coming year, as the Wisconsin hockey team recently had a large shake-up. Bringing in Mike Hastings as a new head coach, expect the team to come away from the 2023-24 season with a better record. If Stramel’s skills are questioned, simply look at his stats when he played with the U.S. National U18 Team. In 26 games, he had 22 points (10 goals and 12 assists). As a large, physical center, the Wild hope he can develop into a legitimate top 6 center.

7. David Spacek

David Spacek is a calm and collected two-way defenseman. During his season with Sherbrooke last year in the QMJHL, Spacek scored 57 points in 58 games. With 13 goals and 44 assists, Spacek has shown he’s not only a sound defenseman but can make plays as well. He also played with the Czechia U20 team. In 7 games, he came away with 8 points (three goals and five assists). Spacek’s father, Juroslav Spacek, is a former NHL player who spent 13 seasons playing in the league. Both Spacek and his father weren’t drafted until the fifth round, which usually means it’s unlikely the player will play in the NHL. But like his father, Spacek is well on his way to being an exception to the norm. Spacek is planning to play in Iowa next year, where he looks to take the next step in his career.

6. Jack Peart

Coming off of his second season playing at St. Cloud State University, Jack Peart has been showing steady progression as he matures. During the 2021-22 season, Peart had 17 points in 32 games, and during the 2022-23 season, he scored 24 points in 39 games. A left-shot defenseman, Peart isn’t overly physical but is still great at breaking up plays. He has a high hockey IQ and shows expertise in reading plays. Peart won the Minnesota Mr. Hockey award, naming him the best high school hockey player in the state during the 2020-21 season.

5. Carson Lambos

Carson Lambos is a left-shot defenseman who models his game after Jonas Brodin. Lambos spent last year playing for the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL. In 61 games, he came away with 48 points (12 goals and 36 assists). Just like Brodin, Lambos is known as a shut-down defender. He plans to spend next season in Iowa, where he admits that he’ll need time to adjust to the larger size of AHL and NHL players. If Lambos can continue on the same trajectory that Brodin did, he can become an elite defender for the Minnesota Wild.

4. Danila Yurov

Danila Yurov has been playing in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk and in the MHL with Stalnye Lisy. While his KHL stats aren’t great (12 points in 59 games, split evenly between goals and assists), his MHL stats are great. In 12 games with Stalnye Lisy, he scored 15 points (4 goals and 11 assists). Yurov is a great player despite the bad handling of his hockey development. While playing with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Yurov has been given low on-ice minutes despite his strong abilities. With only an average of 8 minutes of ice time each game. Yurov will hopefully see more this coming season as he signed a one-year contract extension in the KHL. The plan is for him to come to Minnesota for the 2024-25 season along with Liam Öhgren and Marat Khusnutdinov. After a better season in 2023-24, it will be exciting to see the winger with elite hockey sense on US ice. He already showed his strong skating abilities during development camp earlier in July.

3. Liam Öhgren

Another player with one more year before coming to the United States, Liam Öhgren, is on loan to Farjestad BK in the SHL. Öhgren previously played for Djurgardens IF and the Sweden U20 team in the World Juniors. After winning gold in the U18 World Juniors in 2021-22, the left winger scored 20 points in 36 points during the 2022-23 season. He did sustain a leg injury in January, which showed in his diminished performance, but Öhgren was able to work through it. During Sweden’s playoffs in the Allsvenskan League, Öhgren scored 6 goals and 10 points during 9 playoff games. Öhgren is a solid offensive contributor expected to come over to the United States for the 2024-25 hockey season. Last season, Öhgren was a bit inconsistent, which is something to watch for once he’s closer to Minnesota. But overall, Öhgren is known as a smooth player who is able to set up shots while on the move. His lower body strength and all-around physical play should fit in well with the gritty identity of the Wild. He isn’t flashy, but he is still skilled in all areas of the ice.

2. Marat Khusnutdinov

As opposed to Yurov’s bad experience with development in the KHL, Marat Khusnutdinov is leaned on heavily by his team, SKA St. Petersburg. As a speedy, two-way center, Khusnutdinov had 41 points in 63 games last season (11 goals and 30 assists). During the 2021-22 season, he had 12 points in 32 games, with 5 goals and 7 assists. Khusnutdinov was able to double his point-per-game percentage while also drastically increasing the number of games he played in the KHL. (In 21-22, his PPG percentage was 0.315, while in 22-23, it was 0.650.) That shows that his offensive play stays consistent even when the workload is increased. But the most exciting part for the Wild is that Khusnutdinov is a skillful center. Averaging 10 faceoffs per game in the KHL, Khusnutdinov was winning 52.2% of them during the regular season. Despite drafting several centers in the 2023 draft, Khusnutdinov is a center who may be ready to jump directly into NHL play when he arrives after, along with Yurov and Öhgren next season.

1. Jesper Wallstedt

Jesper Wallstedt is already making a splash as a Wild prospect. Turning 20 last November, Wallstedt quickly showed why he is the number-one goalie prospect in the league. Having previously played at both the professional level and the junior level in the SHL, Wallstedt came to the United States with plenty of experience. While it took a while for him to settle in at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Wallstedt was able to turn things around. He was named the January AHL Goalie of the Month, was chosen for the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic, and also made the AHL Top Prospects team at the end of last season. Wallstedt played 38 games with the Iowa Wild last season, coming away with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. Wallstedt is known as a steady, calm presence who fills the net. He rarely allows a second chance on shots, able to swallow pucks the first time. Wallstedt has also shown a fun personality, scoring a goalie goal with the Iowa Wild and going viral interviewing other Black Aces at the end of the 2022-23 season. Overall, Wallstedt is in development to be a new face of the Wild franchise. While some fans want him in Minnesota sooner rather than later, Wallstedt is committed to “overbaking” in Iowa. This will ensure that he’s comfortable with the North American arena size and play style before making his full-time NHL debut. One more year in Iowa also means that he’ll move up to the big club at the same time that Khusnutdinov, Yurov, and Öhgren arrive.

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