Wild prospect Sokolov has stellar OHL season

Rather than focus exclusively on the Minnesota Wild’s top prospects, we’re taking a look at the best players from across the State of Hockey every week.

From college to the pros, check out our recap of all the week’s events in Minnesota hockey, as we check in with college players, Wild prospects and State of Hockey alums.

Let’s take a look at this our three stars of the year in the final edition of the State of Hockey Tracker.

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FIRST STAR

Dmitry Sokolov, F, Barrie Colts (OHL)

The Wild’s seventh-round pick in 2016, the tape on Sokolov back then was tantalizing, if a little strange. He’d set the world on fire in Russia’s youth ranks, hung with Clayton Keller and other top prospects at the U-17 world championships and was selected third overall in the CHL Import Draft. However, Sokolov’s stock took a massive hit when NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings rolled around, and he ultimately slipped all the way to the final round. After averaging an even two points per game in half-a-season with the Colts, Sokolov’s stock is back on the rise. Traded to Barrie midway through the season after toiling away with the struggling Sudbury Wolves for two seasons, Sokolov hooked up with Aaron Luchuk and star Andrei Svechnikov to form one of the best lines in junior hockey. Sokolov averaged a goal per game with the Colts, finishing with 30 goals and 28 assists in 29 games and scoring 50 total, tied for the league lead.

SECOND STAR

Scott Perunovich, D, Minnesota Duluth (NCHC)

Duluth lost seven seniors, its starting goalie and two of its top four scorers after reaching the national championship game in 2017, then struggled out the gate. One of their unlikely saviors was central scouting’s 124th-ranked North American skater heading into the 2018 draft. Perunovich led UMD in scoring as a 19-year-old freshman, finishing third amongst all rookies nationally and fourth amongst all defensemen with 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 44 games. The Bulldogs were the final at-large team to land a spot in the NCAA tournament, edging Minnesota by .0001 percent of a point and winning four consecutive one-goal games to take home their second national title.

THIRD STAR

Jordan Greenway, F, Boston University (Hockey East)

Declared “NHL ready” almost from the moment he set foot on campus, Greenway has finally arrived, all 6-foot-6, 226 pounds of him. The Wild’s second-round pick in 2015, Greenway was a force for the Terriers as a junior, posting 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games. One of four then-current college players to represent the U.S. at the PyeongChang Olympics, Greenway finished with one goal in five games and ranked third on the team with 13 shots on goal. He stepped into an NHL playoff race after the Terriers lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament and remained in the lineup for the playoffs, assisting on Matt Cullen’s goal in Game 1 of the Wild’s first-round series with the Winnipeg Jets.

AROUND THE RINK

— Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov’s name has been in the news a lot this year. His stellar play in the KHL continued and he won a gold medal after scoring nine points in six games for Russia at the Olympics. However, he also signed a three-year extension with his KHL club, CSKA Moscow, and isn’t expected in North American until 2020, if he makes it over at all.

— After an up-and-down season with the Gophers, star freshman Casey Mittelstadt left for the NHL after racking up 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 34 games. He made his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres, and had five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in his first six games.

— St. Cloud State crashed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but junior captain Jimmy Schuldt’s stellar season caught the attention of NHL scouts. A top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, the undrafted defenseman had 38 points (10 goals, 28 assists) in 40 games for the Huskies.

— UMD captain Karson Kuhlman capped his senior season with a national championship, then signed an NHL deal with the Boston Bruins a few days later. He hand a hand in both of UMD’s goals in their win over Notre Dame.

— Senior forward C.J. Suess signed with the Winnipeg Jets last month following a huge season at Minnesota State. The school’s first Hobey Baker finalist since 1981, Suess had 43 points (22 goals, 21 assists) in 40 games en route to WCHA Player of the Year honors.

— His playing days are over, but Gophers alum and former assistant coach Ryan Potulny had a spectacular first season running the program at Northern Michigan. The Wildcats signed the first-year head coach to a new eight-year contract last month after the pundits speculated that he might return to Minneapolis after Gophers coach Don Lucia resigned. The Wildcats finished second in the WCHA at 25-15-3 in Potulny’s first season at the helm, a year after going 13-22-4.