Wednesday, July 23, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are the next team featured.

Kurtis Gabriel - Owen Sound Attack
I think Gabriel is one of those guys who could make a better pro player than an OHL player. It's rare, but it happens. Even as an overage player, his offensive numbers didn't jump through the roof (although his assist totals did I suppose). His career OHL high was 16 goals, which was this year. But he plays a very pro ready game and is the type of player that coaches love and will move up the ladder quickly. He's got great size, he skates pretty well, he hits, he defends, he works the boards, and he drives the net. Anything that needs to be done to help the team win, Gabriel can do it. Is he exceptionally skilled with the puck? No. He plays a simple game and excels in the dump and chase. Does he have huge goal scoring potential? No. His shot, hands, and anticipation are all average for the OHL level. But, as stated, even if he doesn't have a lot of potential, he seems like a good candidate to move quickly to the NHL as a 4th line checker and penalty killer. I'd be willing to bet he even gets in a few NHL games already this year.

Zack Mitchell - Guelph Storm
Great signing by the Wild. Always liked him as an OHL player. Have to admit though, I'd kind of felt that he was more of a good junior scorer and not much else. But, in the second half of the OHL season and especially the playoffs, he changed my opinion. I actually think he could develop into a solid pro player. Mitchell's greatest asset is his hockey sense. He's an exceptionally smart player who sees the ice well and was terrific with Robby Fabbri and Kerby Rychel late in the year. He'll have to get quicker and stronger, but his two-way game and play without the puck greatly improved in his overage season. I'm quite eager to see how he plays in his first pro season in the Minnesota system. Hopefully it's at the AHL level where he can get a chance playing with some higher skilled players. He might have to adapt his game a bit to become more of a grinder at first though (I think back to former Oiler Liam Reddox).

*Of note, 7th rounder Pavel Jenys will likely be suiting up for the Sudbury Wolves next year after being selected in the Import draft. He'll have a chance to be the team's number 2 center behind Mathew Campagna.

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