Since Chuck Fletcher took the helm roughly 18 months ago, he made it a point of emphasis that the proverbial cupboard- the organizational prospect pool should always be bountiful; prospects are assets after all. But unlike the previous regime, Fletcher and Co. are willing to aggressively pursue free agents in the NCAA, CHL, and European leagues. So that being said, those markets should be getting active soon, so with that in mind, let's take a look at a possible free agent target.
Center, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
5'9", 175 lbs.
Johnson went undrafted, but has been to three Developmental Camps; one with Phoenix, and the last two have been with your Minnesota Wild, and has played in the Prospect Tournament in Traverse City wearing the Wild Sweater. Johnson is a fantastic skater; speedy and agile, and displays a very good two-way game; while he's leading the WHL in scoring (43 goals and 92 points in 55 games) he is a tenacious defensive player who was on the checking line when he won the WHL Championship Finals MVP.
Because his size, the perceived knock and glaring con about his game, Johnson has had to prove his worth at every level, against bigger competition, and has succeeded in doing so. He is fearless going into corners, and is determined to win foot races and puck battles. There's always been an offensive component, but he's exploded in his overage season (take the stats with a grain of salt, since he's in his fourth year of WHL play.) In a recent survey, Johnson was voted (deep breath): Best Overage Player, Best Defensive Forward, Best Skater, and Top Face Off Man- he finished 2nd in Most Valuable to His Team, and 3rd in Most Accurate Shot. Impressive stuff indeed.
Considering the tie that binds the Wild to Tyler Johnson; the invites to Development Camp and the Prospect Tourneys, I think there's a very strong chance that Minnesota makes a run at him when his season is over. Size aside, the kid has everything you want in a player.
Photos courtesy of Spokesman-Review and Wild.Com