THE WILD WIRE: MEET THE NEW GUYSJul 23, 2020
Yo Wild fans! We’ve got some new players to talk about…
Later this offseason I’ll dive into the roster (as it currently stands), but let’s recap what we know so far:
- Defenseman Keaton Thompson – RE-SIGNED
- Veteran winger Cody McLeod – RE-SIGNED
- Forward Mitch McLain – RE-SIGNED
- TBD PLAYER ANNOUNCEMENT COMING ON MONDAY (hint…another defenseman from last season is officially coming back)
All of the above players signed one-way, AHL contracts. Add in a bunch of NHL-contracted players who are still under Minnesota’s control, and things are starting to take shape for the 2020-21 season.
Of course the uncertainty of next season’s start date still remains, but on the surface, NHL free agency appears slated for mid-October once the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs wrap up (fingers crossed). Those fall days should equate to plenty of signings around the hockey world, similar to July 1 in a normal offseason.
But, I digress…let’s take a look at who Iowa just added (in alphabetical order) from the amateur and pro ranks.
Phil Beaulieu – Defenseman, Northern Michigan University (NCAA)
“He kind of has a very calm presence about him, he doesn’t really get rattled” – Brian Hunter, Minnesota Wild Amateur Scout
Phil Beaulieu joins the organization on a two-way AHL / ECHL contract. He hails from Duluth, Minnesota, so Wild scouts have watched him since his high school days at Duluth East. As a sophomore, he recorded a career-best 42 points, netting him a NCAA West Second Team All-American selection. That honor was certainly of distinction since no NMU player had received All-American status since 2010, when Mark Olver and Erik Gustafsson were selected. His 42 points that year were also fifth-most by a defenseman in the program’s history. Beaulieu then posted 35 points as a junior, before dipping to just 25 points last season, while serving as the Wildcats team captain.
Minnesota Wild amateur scout Brian Hunter (whose knack for finding talent helped the organization land a college free agent named Sam Anas once upon a time) said he spoke with Beaulieu’s college coach, Grant Potulny, and the sentiment was that Beaulieu had a lot of pressure on him wearing the “C” and that could have led to the drop in his scoring totals. Regardless, the 24-year-old defenseman will definitely contend for a spot on Iowa’s blue line this season, and according to Hunter, the Minnesotan could help the Wild’s man advantage. “He works the power play extremely well,” Hunter said.
And should Beaulieu start with the Allen American (ECHL), the right-shot defender would be an easy call-up choice for Iowa. For the record, last year’s right-shot defensemen who logged the most ice time were Brennan Menell, Louie Belpedio and Hunter Warner. But considering the injuries and NHL call-ups which occur over the course of a long season, you can never have enough depth on defense. Just look at the contributions of a Matt Register and Turner Ottenbreit from a season ago.
Kameron Kielly – Forward, University Of Prince Edward Island (USports)
“[Kielly] has great offensive instincts and has been known to be clutch and very good on the power play” – Dan LeBlanc, Minnesota Wild Amateur Scout
Kam Kielly is another two-way AHL / ECHL contract, and a player with a ton of offensive upside. The right-shot forward is out of the University of Prince Edward Island, where he spent the last three years. His experience at the university level (as it’s known in Canada) comes on the heels of four seasons with the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL. Throw in the fact that Kielly is a Charlottetown native, and on paper, it looks like the 2020-21 season will be his first year away from home.
Listed at 6’0”, 180 lbs., Kielly, 23, was ultra-consistent in the USports league, posting point totals of 42, 43 and 42 over three seasons, while playing in 30 games each year. Minnesota scout Dan LeBlanc, who focuses on the QMJHL, said Kielly played both center and wing when he watched him. That versatility could prove huge at the pro level, because coaches love players that are comfortable (and responsible defensively) at multiple positions. LeBlanc added that Kielly is a “good all-around player” and that he plays a two-way game. LeBlanc also feels Kielly has “above average hockey sense” and “should be able to adapt to any role at the next level”.
Josh Maser – Forward, Prince George (WHL)
“[Maser] can really shoot the puck with good touch around the net” – Pat Baum, Minnesota Wild Amateur Scout
Wearing the “C” with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League last season, Josh Maser racked up 29 goals and 19 assists in 62 games. The 21-year-old signed an AHL one-way contract, which just means whether he’s in Iowa or Allen (the Wild’s ECHL affiliate), he’ll get paid the same amount.
Here’s what else you need to know about the Houston, British Columbia native.
Maser wrapped up his WHL career with 90 goals, 53 assists and 548 shots in 218 games. His WHL player page lists him as a left-winger, but he did increase his face-off win totals over the last three seasons, from 16 to 51 to 97, so as he develops as a pro, maybe he gets some time at the center ice position.
Last year he recorded three, multi-goal games, including a hat trick on March 6 against Vancouver. He also posted a game with 11 shots (!!!!) in late October on the road versus Tri-City – yet somehow failed to bury one. Ten times last season he recorded at least six shots in a game, so he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger in his final year of junior hockey. Pat Baum, the Minnesota Wild scout who covers the WHL lauded Maser’s “strength on pucks” and his play along the boards, which at the AHL level will be important given the size of the grown men he’ll be competing against. Baum also added that Maser “plays with energy and [has a] strong work ethic for 200 feet” (that’s the length of the ice surface in case you were curious).
Jesse Mychan – Forward, Esbjerg Energy (Denmark)
“He’s a hard-nosed, tough, goal scorer…hits like a truck. He’s the kind of player that defenseman don’t like to play against” – Steve Martinson, Allen Americans Head Coach
Of the recent signings, only Jesse Mychan has prior pro experience. In fact, Mychan, 28, turned pro back in 2013. Since that time, he’s played in seven professional leagues, including European stops in Germany, Slovakia, the UK, and Denmark. His most impressive and longest stint of pro hockey came from his time in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles (who are now an AHL franchise). While in Loveland, Mychan scored 80 goals and posted a whopping 637 PIM in just under 200 career games over four seasons. Do a quick search of Mychan on “Hockey Fights” and you can see the 6’2” winger from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is no stranger to dropping the mitts. Allen Americans head coach Steve Martinson was a tough SOB when he played, and his teams are never short on physicality and toughness. Thus, Mychan should fit right in down in Texas, or provide some good size and experience with Iowa. It should be noted that Mychan does have 10 career AHL games on his resume. It should also be pointed out that a healthy ECHL / AHL affiliation is one where the ECHL coach has say in the two-way contracted players since those guys will compete for spots in Iowa, but also be leaned on heavily in the ECHL to produce and provide leadership.
Thanks for reading this quick glimpse into some of the new players recently signed by the organization. Hope you are all doing well…until next time, Wild fans…
- Wild Joe Radio