Sunday, September 8, 2013

Top 10 Prospects: Honorable Mentions

Today we kick off our countdown of the 10 best prospects the Wild have. But since the Wild have several "prospects" who could get serious NHL ice time this season, it was decided that a couple could no longer be a part of this list. 

Jonas Brodin and Charlie Coyle are locks for the NHL roster this season, and therefore, have been removed from consideration. Other than that, everyone else is fair game here because they are not for sure going to be on the NHL team this season.

With all that said, we kick off the Top 10 list with those who just missed the cut as honorable mentions:

Brett Bulmer
Born: April 26, 1992
Height: 6'3". Weight: 193 lbs
Position: Forward. Shoots: Right
2012-13 Team: Houston (AHL)
Acquired: 2nd Round Pick (39th overall) in 2010 NHL Draft
Previous Rank: 9.

Bulmer burst onto the scene in 2011-12 playing nine games for the Wild before being sent back to Kelowna. In that time, he showed speed, grit, and the ability to make a few plays. It was not the easiest decision to send him back to his WHL squad. After returning to Kelowna, Bulmer notched 34 goals and 28 points to easily lead the team and was voted team MVP.

So heading into the 2012-13 season, Bulmer moved up to the Wild's AHL squad in Houston, but saw his season get cut in half due to a knee injury (only playing in 43 games) and was not the same player we saw with the Wild or in Kelowna when he did play last year.

Bulmer still has good talent, but he did not have the season last year we all hoped for, which is why he dropped off the top 10 list. Look for him to have a rebound year in 2013-14 with Iowa.

Johan Gustafsson
Born: February 28th, 1992
Height: 6'2". Weight: 203 lbs
Position: Goaltender. Shoots: Left
2012-13 Team: Lulea HF (SEL)
Acquired: 6th round pick (159th overall) in 2010 NHL Draft
 Previous Rank: NR.

Since being drafted in 2010, Gustafsson has become one of the Wild's most highly touted goalie prospects. His numbers have continued to get better playing in the Elitserien League in Sweden, and he earned himself a three year entry level contract with the Wild this past summer.

Many on the hockey boards and forums online have called Gustafsson one of the top prospects the Wild have and are ranking him higher than Darcy Kuemper, who looked sharp in his brief time with the Wild last year. I, however, am not so sold on Gustafsson just yet.

If Gustafsson can come over to the AHL this year and play as solid as he did in the SEL, then he will find himself higher up on this list. But in the few times we have gotten a glimpse of him at Wild development camps, he has not looked as sharp while facing the top prospects the Wild have to offer. He still can be a good NHL goaltender, but he has a long ways to go. Lets see him handle the AHL before we proclaim him as the goalie of the future.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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