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Minnesota Wild Top 10 Prospects: 2024 Offseason – Hockey Writers – Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild have been one of the most successful teams in recent NHL Drafts, collecting high draft picks while getting steals in the later rounds. As a result, they have assembled an impressive prospect pool.

Honorees: Ryan Healey, Hunter Haight, Graeme Clarke, Aaron Pionk, Rasmus Kumpulainen, Charlie Stramel

10. Vladislav Firstov, 23 Years (LW)

Vladislav Firstov is a 23-year-old midfielder selected by the Wild in the 2019 Draft. The Russian is signed with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for the 2024-25 season so he won’t be joining an NHL club any time soon, but his side is undoubtedly in the top five in the Wild pool. He is fast and has a strong shot, which is reflected in his production throughout his career. If he comes to North America next season, he’ll have a tough time joining the Wild’s middles and developing into a 20+ goal, 50+ point producer.

9. Carson Lambos, 21 Years (LD)

Carson Lambos is a defenseman selected at the end of the first round in the 2021 Draft by the Wild. He finished his first professional season with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL) last season, scoring just four goals and 10 assists in 69 games. However, it was his strong defense that earned him praise, as he was one of the team’s best defenders. He has a few seasons to reach the NHL, but has the potential to be a solid, bottom-four defender and penalty killer.

8. Marat Khusnutdinov, 21 Years (C/LW)

Marat Khusnutdinov is a Russian center who arrived in North America at the end of the 2023-24 season. He had six goals and 20 points in 49 KHL games with HK Sochi before scoring a goal and three assists in 16 NHL games for Minnesota. He’s quite small, just 5-foot-9, but he plays a well-rounded game. He will need to improve his offensive game, but at only 21 years old, he has the potential to be a great third baseman in the future.

7. Ryder Ritchie, 17 years old (RW)

Heading into the 2024 Draft, Ryder Ritchie had a first round grade by many scouts. However, he dropped to 45th overall and the Wild wasted no time selecting a speedy winger. He has an expansive offensive toolset, from under-the-radar shooting to impressive playmaking skills and an elite hockey IQ.

Related: Revisiting the Brent Burns Trade

Ritchie had 19 goals and 44 points in 47 games for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL) last season. While those numbers don’t stand out on the score sheet, he was still more than a month away from being too young for the 2024 Draft, so his production is quite impressive. He’s still a few seasons away from reaching the NHL, but he has top-six potential if his development continues.

6. Aron Kiviharju, 18 Years (LD)

Two years ago, Aron Kiviharju was ranked as the top prospect in the 2024 Draft. Following a drop in production and serious injuries, he fell to a first round pick that many scouts had long taken. NHL teams weren’t so kind, causing him to fall to the Wild at 122nd overall. Despite this, he is still a big hope.

Aron Kiviharju, Team Finland (Pasi Mennander/FIHA)

Standing just 5-foot-10, Kiviharju is very short for a defender. However, he is highly skilled and has the potential to develop into a top four defender. In order to hone his skills, he needs to stay on the ice consistently, which means he may be three to four seasons away from making it to the NHL. Although he is at his best right now, it should be taken with a grain of salt, because this season will be crucial in determining if he can develop into the player many believe he can be. If he reaches his potential, he could end up scoring more than 40 points in a season.

5. Liam Ohgren, 20 Years (LW)

Liam Ohgren was a 2022 first round pick by the Wild and has a very high ceiling and floor. He is a two-way center, providing superior defense while putting up outrageous numbers. Although he played only 26 games in the Swedish Hockey League last season, he scored 12 goals and 19 points. On a per-game basis, he has surpassed the likes of Jonathan Lekkermaki in goals, assists, and points per game. Ohgren will be spending this season in Iowa, but could soon get a call to Minnesota if he proves he can translate his game to North America. His high becomes one of the two best athletes of the NHL while scoring 15 goals and 55 points per season.

4. Riley Heidt, Age 19 (C/LW)

Riley Heidt surprisingly fell to the Wild 64th overall in the 2023 Draft and quickly proved the doubters wrong, scoring 37 goals and 117 points in 66 games as co-captain of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. He finished second in the league in assists and third in points. His offensive game is already NHL-caliber, but he needs to perfect his two-way game. After another season in the WHL and a year in the AHL, Heidt could join the Wild’s top six and powerplay, eventually developing into a 60-70 point forward, likely on the left wing.

3. Danila Yurov, 20 Years (RW)

It’s surprising to say that Danila Yurov is the team’s third chance, but here we are. The lefty had 21 goals and 49 points in 62 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL last season. He is a good skater who can move from side to side and has elite hockey IQ and vision. His hands are very impressive as he uses them to get through defenders.

Yurov’s upside is higher than anyone on this list, with 30+ goal power and 90+ points in the NHL. Last season was his first with such a high score, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue this production. If he can, he will likely join the Wild in the 2025-26 season and be an immediate candidate for the starting lineup.

2. Zeev Buium, 18 Years (LD)

The Wild selected their future top defenseman Zeev Buium with the 12th overall pick in the 2024 Draft. He plays a complete game, with the ability to drive the offense by using his excellent playmaking skills or aiming for the right hand shot. Defensively he is above average as a strong skater who uses his body well. He never gets out of position and uses his body to win puck battles. Although fitness has been a struggle at times due to his small frame, he is likely to add weight throughout his development before reaching the NHL.

Buium will sign an entry-level contract with the Wild following the 2024-25 or 2025-26 season and join an NHL team immediately. He will soon contribute offensively at even strength and on the powerplay, moving up the depth chart. Seeing him in the top lineup alongside Brock Faber in just a few seasons is not out of the question. Buium’s offense could top 65+ points per season in the right situation.

1. Jesper Wallstedt, 21 Years (G)

Every Wild fan knows how dominant Jesper Wallstedt is, and what he needs is a chance in the NHL. He dominated the AHL last season, going 22-19-4 with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He also qualified for three NHL games. After a poor NHL performance that saw him give up seven goals on 34 shots against the Dallas Stars, he bounced back, giving up just two goals on 53 shots in his next two games, winning both.

Unfortunately for Wallstedt, the Wild have Marc Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson under contract for this season, paving the way for them to join the NHL tandem. Assuming no trade is made, Wallstedt will start the season in Iowa but will certainly make it difficult for Wild management not to call him up. In his first game, Wallstedt will be a Vezina-Trophy player as he leads the Wild into the playoffs. He is arguably the best goal scorer in the NHL, competing with Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators) and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames).

The Wild have a stacked prospect pool full of top talent and plenty of depth. If the team has more money to spend following the contract highs of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, they will be able to bring in top free agents to play alongside their top prospects, creating a dangerous roster capable of winning multiple Stanley Cups.

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