TRAVERSE CITY: A CHANCE FOR PROSPECTS TO SHINESep 5, 2019
Do you feel that hockey fans?
The mornings are colder and the air crisper. Leaves are starting to blow in the wind.
The calendar has shifted to September. It’s nearly hockey season.
Fans get their first taste of the new season with the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament, held in Traverse City, MI. Minnesota announced its roster on Aug. 27 and the lineup features 11 draft picks by the organization. The team will play four games in five days before jumping right into training camp. The full schedule and stats from the tournament can be found here.
The NHL Prospect Tournament is a showcase for all the future talent in hockey. For Wild fans, here are just five guys looking to make a big impact on the ice before training camp.
Nico Sturm – F
Arguably the highlighting prospect on the Minnesota roster, the 24-year-old rookie joins the Wild for his first NHL Prospect Tournament. Sturm was a highly touted college free agent and signed with Minnesota on April 1, 2019 after a prolific career at Clarkson University. In his three years with the Golden Knights, Sturm netted 103 points (36g, 67a) in 118 games and captained the program in his junior season. Sturm was also named the ECAC Hockey Best Defensive Forward in back to back seasons, a Top 10 Hobey Baker Award Finalist, an ECAC Hockey Player of the Year Finalist, an ECAC Hockey All-Tournament Team and First-Team All-League selection in 2019.
Sturm spent two games with the Wild when he signed his entry-level contract, averaging 12:47 of ice time in those games and taking seven shots. In Traverse City, Sturm will have the ability to establish the game that made him a standout in college ahead of what could be a big camp in Minnesota. An important part of the immediate future for the Wild, Sturm will be looked at as a leader and primary scoring option in the prospect tournament.
Connor Dewar – F
Another exciting prospect for the Wild, Dewar heads into his first professional season after four campaigns in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips. In his final two seasons with the Silvertips, Dewar lit it up on the ice, amassed 149 points (74g, 75a) in just 127 games. During the offseason, Joe O’Donnell asked a couple of coaches who have seen Dewar up close during his time in the WHL and they raved about his game.
A third-round pick in 2018, Dewar will attend his second NHL Prospect Tournament with the Wild. In 2018, he recorded an assist in two games in the tournament. This year, he’ll look to become a more important part of the offense. With training camp looming, Traverse City gives him a head start on making a good impression on the Iowa and Minnesota coaching staffs.
Damien Giroux – F
The final forward on the list, Giroux is a prospect that may still be a year or two away from joining the professional ranks, but every season his potential and importance in the organization grow. Selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Giroux has seen his goal and point totals increase every season he’s played in the OHL. Last year, Giroux served as the captain for the Spirit and led the team within one game of the OHL Finals.
Giroux impressed in his first NHL Prospect Tournament, as he scored a goal and an assist in four games in 2018, tied with forward Alexander Khovanov for most points by a 2018 draft pick. At 19 years old, Giroux still has ample opportunity to develop and grow his game, and playing against some of the top prospects from around the NHL is a big opportunity for him to do so.
Fedor Gordeev – D
Gordeev joined the Wild organization in late May, as he was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to Minnesota before signing an entry-level deal. Gordeev is one of the most interesting prospects in the Minnesota pipeline, in part due to the fact he’s a 6-foot-7 defender that clocks in a 225 pounds.
Gordeev played with the Flint Firebirds and Guelph Storm of the OHL in 2018-19, the latter of which went on to win the OHL Championship and finished third in the Memorial Cup. Even with his size, he chipped in 32 points (7g, 25a) in 63 games between the two teams and added another three points (2g, 1a) in the OHL playoffs. The Wild will rely on that scoring touch and towering presence on the blueline to be an impactful two-way player in the tournament.
Mat Robson – G
Robson is one of three Minnesota Golden Gophers who will be playing in the NHL Prospect Tournament and just one of two players who spent time with the Minnesota Wild in season last year. Robson joined the Wild after two seasons at Minnesota, where he posted a 2.78 goals against average and a .921 save percentage in 2018-19.
The netminder spent a few weeks in the Wild organization following his collegiate career in 2018-19, earning quality time with the coaching staff to refine his game. Now, the tournament allows him to put those teachings into game action and continue his development with the organization. With a good chance at earning minutes with Iowa this upcoming season, Robson can kick start a successful rookie campaign with a good showing in Traverse City.