Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?
Holy crap, it's Thursday and there's a top-five list! Yes, it's sad that being punctual would be surprising and I'll be the first to admit it. However, this brings the right day ratio up to 50% and hopefully will be the first of many consecutive Thursday lists.
Or else feel free to make fun of me.
While the rest of the NHL is discussing Shea Weber's 14 year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers (if you haven't read Bozak's piece on the subject, click here), the big Wild-related news coming out today is that 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba signed his entry level contract for a cap hit of $1.633 million. This isn't much of a surprise - last year's first round pick Jonas Brodin signed his ELC during development camp - and Dumba is a top-ten pick drafted from the CHL. He will be slotted into the future core like anyone taken that high. Best of all, if Matt isn't ready this season, the contract slides a year and is important because Minnesota already has 49 of a possible 50 contracts.
The only surprising aspect of Dumba signing now is that he doesn't turn 18 until next Thursday. It's easier to get these things done as a legal adult and the Wild have seemed to like announcing ELCs as a birthday present (i.e. Brodin, Charlie Coyle).
After the jump, the prospect theme continues with the top-5 invited players from last weekend's prospect camp scrimmages. And...
...ESPN pulling their best TSN impression. That's one giant entry-level contract.
5. Joe Howe (Goaltender, Colorado College)
It's hard to be the fifth-string goalie and Plymouth native Joe Howe was only invited since Darcy Kuemper and fellow invite MacKenzie Skapski were injured. Hell, Howe didn't even get his name on the fancy Development Camp Roster. What he did do, however, was hold his own against one of the top prospect pools. Howe was in net Thursday when Team White came back from a 4-1 deficit and saw a 3-2 lead at the end of Sunday's first half. Outside of getting schooled by Mikael Granlund on a penalty shot (and who hasn't been made to look silly by Finnish Baby Jesus?), there's a lot to like from the 22 year-old.
Last year was an up and down junior season for Howe and sophomore Josh Thorimbert looked to be the better goalie. That may still be the case next year but for one weekend, he can be happy with how he played.
4. Bobby Farnham (Right Wing, Brown University)
Going into last weekend, Farnham was one of the few invitees I didn't know too much about. Although the Ivies and ECAC schools aren't the sexiest names in college hockey, the recently graduated Farnham made an impact physically on both sides. The 23 year-old Farnham was a veteran presence on a line with 2012 draftees Louie Nanne and Adam Gilmour and he was rewarded with a goal Thursday off of a Gilmour face-off.
3. Drew LeBlanc (Center, St. Cloud State)
Unlike Farnham, LeBlanc is a known commodity around these parts and benefits from playing in the WCHA. At the same time, it was hard to know what to expect after missing most of last season with a leg injury (one in a series of injuries that set back the Huskies outside of Ben Hanowski shining) and LeBlanc looked close to 100% skating-wise and without pain. He didn't make an impact on the scoresheet but made a good impression for when he gets back on the ice with the Huskies (LeBlanc received a medical redshirt).
2. Cody Corbett (Defenseman, Edmonton Oil Kings)
Corbett, who stood out in the Minnesota Elite League before taking an almost unheard of path in this state and going to the WHL, made the most of his time in Edmonton and showed off at development camp. Cody had great vision, a heavy shot that he made use of frequently in both scrimmages and held his own being paired on a line with Dumba. The two had good chemistry. The seventh overall pick in 2012 was fine with laying back and being the more defensive of the two and Corbett knew when to pinch and made the most out of those opportunities.
It's surprising he didn't get drafted after playing on a team that went to the Memorial Cup (although I'm sure Stillwater fans, whose team took a hit without Corbett, are okay with it) and it's something he can build upon; especially if fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhart starts the year in the NHL.
1. Kyle Thomas (Center, Norwich DIII)
In Dan's words, Kyle Thomas Mania is sweeping the nation. For the second consecutive year the Division 3 standout made a major impression at Minnesota Development Camp and case to be signed to an AHL or NHL deal after he graduates next year. Thomas is a late bloomer and isn't the most offensive talent but Kyle has learned how to use his body and abilities to his advantage. He can skate and is all over both ends of the ice while being relentless. Although the Wild have a plethora of role guys waiting in the wings long-term, this is the type of play I'd like to see out of them. And it's why Thomas tops the list.
Agree? Disagree? Have a different invitee who should have been on the list? Tell me in the comments.
(s/t Andrew Weiss & Cody Beckett)