Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top 10 Prospects: The Honorable Mentions

Johan Gustafsson
Position: Goaltender. Catches: Left.
Height: 6'2". Weight: 199 lbs.
Born: February 28, 1992
2013-14 Team: Iowa Wild (AHL), Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Acquired: 6th round pick (159th overall) in 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Previous Rank: Honorable Mention

After posting outstanding numbers in his final two seasons in the Swedish Elite League, Gustafsson made his way over to North America to play in Iowa for the 2013-14 season. Gustafsson started the season behind Darcy Kuemper, but when Kuemper was called up to Minnesota Gustafsson became the number one starter for Iowa. 

Johan finished the season with the most starts on the Iowa roster (40), posting a 12-20-4 record with a 2.98 GAA and .903 save percentage. There also were times when Gustafsson was called up to Minnesota on an emergency basis, but never appeared in an actual game.

Gustafsson's numbers in Iowa were not stellar, but not bad considering it was his first season playing in North America. He will likely open the 2014-15 season as the number one goalie in Iowa, unless Darcy Kuemper miraculously is allowed to start the season in the AHL. 

Given the fresh blood down in Iowa for the upcoming season, Gustafsson should have a great chance to improve his numbers in his second season in the AHL.

Zack Phillips
Position: Center. Shoots: Right
Height: 6'0". Weight: 194 lbs
Born: October 28, 1992
2013-14 Team: Iowa Wild (AHL)
Acquired: 1st round pick (28th overall) in 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Previous Rank: 8

Since leaving the comfort of his St. John team, it has been a rough couple of seasons in the AHL for Zack Phillips. Going into last year, Phillips projceted to be a mainstay on the Iowa roster as the top line center. But much like the team, Phillips struggled mightily to put up points and found himself being pushed down to the second, third, and even the fourth line (very briefly albeit). 

When Phillips was putting up points like no other with St. John, he was surrounded with noted players (now in the NHL) Jonathan Huberdeau, Charlie Coyle, Nathan Beaulieu, and Simon Despres. Unfortunately for him, he did not have the same kind of talent while playing for Iowa. 

There is still plenty of time for Phillips to right the ship. There is no hurry for him to get to Minnesota (the Wild are set with four solid centers to open the year), and there is hope for him to improve in his second year under new Iowa coach Kurt Kleinendorst. 

Check back tomorrow to find out the #10 prospect!

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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