BUT FIRST: Check this link out. The WBS Penguins beat writer, Jonathan Bombulie, assembled this monster list of every AHL free agent and ranked the first 250 of them. Whether you agree with his rankings or not, this is a truly ambitious and tedious undertaking, yet incredibly thorough. To get all the names together, much less a little comment on each. Holy moly. My hat's off to the guy. Hell, I'll even toss a bra at him. It's that impressive.
Of course, I disagree with Taffe's quite high ranking, and I think goalies Joe Fallon and Mike McKenna are underrated, but those are the only ones I felt particularly strong about just scanning the list.
Free agency aka Hockey Christmas begins on July 1, so it won't be long before the big fish in the AHL pond will be spoken for and one or two need to be spoken for by the Aeros to help guide and bolster this group of very young prospects coming up.
Anyway, on to the new baby Wildses. I'm gonna start with the lowest pick first and work up to the first round pick.
Nanne just turned 18 earlier this month, will play junior in the BCHL this year, and then has committed to the University of Minnesota, so he could be as much as 5 years from turning pro. He is the grandson of Lou Nanne, a long-time Minnesota North Star, and the son of Marty Nanne, a scout for the Wild.
This Swiss prospect sounds like a skilled, handsy guy, average sized if he stays the 5'10" he is currently, having just turned 18 in April. He's got 2 more years on his contract in the Swiss League, at which point, if the team still wants to sign him, we could see him in Houston.
I like the symmetry of how 5 of the 7 picks this year have names that start with the same letter as their position. Seriously. Check it out. Anyway, 20 year old Gunnarsson is Swedish (shocking, I know) and played in the Swedish Elite League last season, and will again next season. He's a 6'4" stay-at-home defenseman, so he'll have that nice long reach like a Justin Falk.
Gilmour is already 6'2" and pushing 200 lbs as an 18 year old. He's got a year of USHL junior hockey to play and then will play for Boston College. He's a long way away from becoming an Aero unless he turns into a huge stud and leaves college early to turn pro. But he was a rock star for his Mass. high school team with nearly 2 points per game.
Good sized kid from the pro hockey factory of Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Draeger is headed to Michigan State for his college career. Again, we won't see him for a few years.
Here's another good look at the 3-7 round picks and a little more about them from Dan Chan at Hockey Wilderness.
Bussieres will be 19 in November, which means he'd be eligible to play in the AHL after one more season in the Quebec Major Junior league. It sounds like he's a sturdy, gritty power forward type with some offensive touch and is a bit of a pest. So, he's a taller Cal Clutterbuck? Wouldn't mind that at all.
More from HW on Bussieres...
That's pronounced DUM-buh, FYI. A former teammate of Darcy Kuemper's with the Red Deer Rebels, Dumba's 17 years old and won't be eligible for the AHL until the 2014-15 season, which means he either makes the Wild full-time before that, or we'll see him in a couple of years. He's an offensive defensman who likes to crush bodies, which is kind of an interesting combination. Brent Burnsian, maybe. Should be a fun kid to watch whenever he gets up to the pros.
And again, the details on Dumba from HW...