Wild prospects...scoring? Thanks to HF Boards User Granin
It was overlooked by most but last week featured something which might seem out of place for Wild fans. Familiar names at the top of the scoreboard.
Lets back up. In a week where the focus was on the United States evaluating players for the 2012 U-20 World Junior Championships, including Wild prospects Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker, three Swedes with Minnesota ties stole the show. Swedish forward Johan Larsson lead all players at the National Junior Evaluation Camp with fourteen points (4G 10A) in five games. Minnesota first round pick Jonas Brodin lead all defensmen with six points (2G 4A) as an 18 year-old first pairing defenseman. Finally, Wild draft pick and Swedish goalie Johan Gustafsson posted a .904 save percentage in three games.
To be fair, this wasn't a true international competition. With four teams from three countries (the United States was split into a blue and white team for half the Evaluation Camp), this was used as a tune-up and chance to scout players for the upcoming Under-20 World Junior Championships; however, that shouldn't take away what Larsson, Brodin and Gustafsson did.
If anything, these three Swedes leading should whet the appetite of Wild fans for what the pipeline has in store. Jonas Brodin looks to be a first pairing defenseman at the age of eighteen for an under twenty tournament while Gustafsson, overlooked by most Wild fans and prospect rankings, could be Sweden's number one goalie. Although it is hard to bank on Larsson scoring like he does in international competition in the NHL, he looks to be the next captain for Sweden in the most prestigious tournament for prospects. Having that type of leadership is important and does wonders for other players.
And it's not just Sweden. Mikael Granlund looks to lead Finland as has been mentioned as the best European prospect ready for the NHL by Pro Hockey Talk. Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle look to lead Team USA in the World Juniors; both prospects survived the cuts. While the three Swedish Wild prospects showed their might by leading the score sheet, the end result is having prospects who can lead on the ice.
And that, more than anything, is worth looking at.