Minnesota Wild 2021 NHL Draft Recapby Carson Babbini August 30, 2021 0 comments
During the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Minnesota Wild came into the draft with nine picks but made seven total selections. General manager Bill Guerin made two draft-day trades, moving up in the first round and moving back into the fourth round as a result. The Wild had a very defensive-heavy draft, especially in the later rounds.
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Jesper Wallstedt, G, Lulea-SHL (Round 1, Pick 20)
Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg-WHL (Round 1, Pick 26)
Jack Peart, D, Grand Rapids-High School (Round 2, Pick 54)
Caeden Bankier, C, Kamloops-WHL (Round 3, Pick 86)
Kyle Masters, D, Red Deer-WHL (Round 4, Pick 118)
Josh Pillar, C, Kamloops-WHL (Round 4, Pick 127)
Nate Benoit, D, Mount St. Charles-High School (Round 6, Pick 182)
Best Pick: Jesper Wallstedt
A player who could’ve easily gone in the top ten picks, the Wild jumped on the chance to trade up and take Wallstedt. The second goalie off the board, Wallstedt provides the Wild with the elite goalie prospect that they so desperately needed in their pipeline, with Kaapo Kahkonen now elevated to the NHL and Hunter Jones, perhaps, not too far behind. Wallstedt is fluid in the crease and isn’t afraid to be aggressive when necessary. He posted great numbers in his first full year in the SHL with a 2.23 GAA and a .908 save percentage. He will be the man between the pipes for the Wild in the future.
Worst Pick: Caeden Bankier
While Bankier has a great offensive game and could be a huge boost for the Wild in that regard, there were a lot of questions about his skating, and if it could be improved to the point, he could play in the NHL. With those skating questions comes the question of his ability to separate off of a check. When a mid-round pick on the higher end of the middle rounds has questions of if he will make it to the pros, that isn’t something that’s ideal to hear.
Sleeper Pick: Josh Pillar
While his teammate Bankier may not pan out, Pillar has the potential to be the Wild’s big sleeper pick. Not only can he succeed on the offensive end, totaling 29 points in 22 games for Kamloops this year, but his biggest strengths are his skating and his speed, a forward mold that the Wild absolutely love. Not to mention that he can also play on the wing, Pillar has a great chance to succeed in Minnesota’s system.
The Wild’s draft focused on two main areas: defensemen and centers. However, the fall of Wallstedt gives the Wild their goalie of the future without a doubt. With several of their top prospects potentially ready to head up to the NHL, the Wild did a great job in restocking their defensemen prospects with the selections of Lambos and Peart. They also added to what is slowly becoming a solid center prospect group with the sleeper pick Pillar. Wild fans will be anxious to follow this class’ progress as they make their way up to the NHL.
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