A complete listing of the Minnesota Wild’s 2014 NHL Draft picks with a capsule summary of each.
Round 1, pick 18 — RW/C Alex Tuch (6-foot-3, 213 pounds), U.S. National Team Development Program: Forget trading back and acquiring more picks. Once Tuch was on the board for Minnesota, the big power forward was their pick. With the U.S. National Team Development Program last year, Tuch had 28 goals and 32 assists in 53 games in the USHL and had 58 penalty minutes. He also helped Team USA win gold in the Under-18 World Championships with three assists in seven games. Tuch was the 12th-best North American skater according to the NHL’s Central Scouting Service and the top American. He likens his game to NHL forwards Ryan Kesler and David Backes and could also draw comparisons to Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle. Tuch is slated to play next season at Boston College. FULL STORY
Round 3, pick 80 — D Louis Belpedio (5-10, 193), U.S. National Team Development Program: Another American from the development program, Belpedio was a bit of a late-riser after a strong finish to his season. Belpedio was ranked as the 107th North American skater by the CSS. Considered a strong two-way player, Belpedio had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 53 games last season in the United States Hockey League for the U-18 team after one goal and 11 assists for the U-17 team the previous year. A Skokie, Ill., native, Belpedio is set to play collegiately at Miami (Ohio) next season after two years in the U.S. development program.
Round 4, pick 109 — G Kaapo Kahkonen (6-1, 209), Finland: This fits the Wild philosophy of developing goaltenders. After being projected by some to take a goaltender in the first round, Minnesota stayed patient and went the mid-round route with a European goaltender from Finland. Finland has produced a lot of strong goaltenders, including the Wild’s Niklas Backstrom, and Kahkonen will have the chance to be the next in the line. Kahkonen was the fourth-best European goaltending prospect according to the CSS. He had a .912 save percentage in the Finnish junior league last season. The previous season he had a .917 save percentage with a 2.43 goals-against average.
Round 5, pick 139 — D Tanner Faith (6-3, 211), Kootenay, Western Hockey League: Size has been a big draft trait for the Wild in recent years and Faith fits the bill as a big defenseman to work in his own end. Faith has played the past two seasons of Canadian junior hockey for Kootenay of the Western Hockey League. From Terrace, British Columbia, Faith was limited to 10 games last season and had one assists and nine penalty minutes. The previous season he had two goals, six assists and 35 penalty minutes in 55 games.
Round 6, pick 160 — D Pontus Sjalin (6-0, 168), Sweden: Minnesota goes off the board a bit in taking a Swedish defenseman. Sjalin apparently wasn’t even in the NHL.com database; his name remained absent in the draft tracker while the rest of the sixth round continued to be filled in. Sjalin played in what was called the SuperElit league in Sweden last season. Playing in Division 1 for Ostersunds IK the previous year, he had three goals and one assist in 21 games. Sjalin, 18, is surely going to spend more time in Sweden.
Round 6, pick 167 — C Chase Lang (6-1, 176), Calgary, Western Hockey League: Lang is a projectible forward, still yet to fill out weighing only 176 pounds at 6-foot-1. Just 17 years old, the British Columbia native had 10 goals and 15 assists last year for Calgary in his first season playing juniors. Lang had 52 penalty minutes in 68 games.
Round 6, pick 169 — C Reid Duke (5-11, 189), Lethbridge, Western Hockey League: The last of three sixth-round picks, Duke is another Western Hockey League center for the Wild. Duke has spent the past two years of junior hockey playing for Lethbridge where he had 15 goals and 25 assists with 91 penalty minutes in 62 games last season. Duke was ranked 137th by the CSS among North American Skaters.
Round 7, pick 199 — C Pavel Jenys (6-2, 189), Czech Republic: Minnesota finishes its draft with another forward prospect, going with forwards who can possibly play center with four of its eight picks. Jenys was rated 21st among European skaters by the CSS as an 18-year-old out of the Czech Republic. He has good size and had 13 goals and six assists in 26 games in the Czech junior league last season. He also played 29 games in the Czech adult league, where he had two goals. In four games in the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, he had two goals in four games for the Czech team.