How did the Minnesota Wild do in the 2023 NHL draft?
Of course, we won’t know for years down the line and a draft is always a crapshoot, regardless.
Nevertheless, there’s grades to be handed out and analysis to be had. Grades might not mean much in the short term but it’s fun to talk about and discuss.
That being said, this question surrounding this year’s Wild draft for fans might be: How much do you trust Minnesota’s scouting department and development?
The initial reaction on the Wild’s draft was … well, let’s just say there’s some non-believers and hope for cashing in on upside.
All that being said, here’s this year’s grades for Minnesota’s first-round pick and overall for the entire draft. Check back in a few years to see how right – or wrong – they were.
Brian Murphy of the Sporting News: C-. “A year ago, taking Charlie Stramel at No. 21 would have been a no-brainer, but after a tough draft year, the Wild selecting Stramel this early is definitely a reach. He's a power forward who already has NHL size to go with a high hockey IQ and solid vision with the puck. Minnesota is betting on Stramel bouncing back and progressing along like he appeared to be before joining the NCAA ranks, but it's a risky choice.”
Adam Herman of Bleacher Report: D+. “Stramel is the first player drafted who did not make B/R's top 32. However, he did open the season at the 13th overall spot. Stramel is massive and has good hands for his size. I worry that his having developed physically earlier than everyone else may limit his upside and also could have limited his problem-solving skills. It's hard to run into problems when you're bigger than everyone around you at age 16. There is a high probability that Stramel makes the NHL and there is second-line upside, but I fear he could move to the wing and might be destined to become more of a depth player.”
Trisan McKinstry of Clutch Points: B-. “Stramel entered the 2023 NHL Draft season as a top 10 prospect to a lot of people. However, his stock has fallen after a bit of a rough season with the Badgers. There is a lot to like here, but there were other centers on the board with a higher ceiling. We'll see whether the Wild can bring out the potential people saw before this season.”
Logan Horn of The Hockey Writers: C+. “This pick is a bit off the board for me but I understand the thought process. Charlie Stramel struggled to score this year on a University of Wisconsin team whose offense was anemic. He’s a big centerman who plays a fast, physical game and does what’s asked of him defensively. There are major questions about if he’s got enough offense to be a high-in-the-lineup centerman, but he looked great offensively in the NTDP in the 2021-22 season as well as at the World Juniors this year for Team USA. Stramel was a projected top-10 pick coming into this year so the Wild are surely counting on a serious offensive bounce back from Stramel in the near future. Minnesota is in dire need of help down the middle but I can’t help but think that guys like David Edstrom or Calum Ritchie bring a bit more offensive potential to the table.”
Mary Clarke of For The Win: C-. “This feels like a reach for the Wild, who bypassed the best pick available to nab Charlie Stramel out of the NCAA. Stramel is a big body with a physically imposing frame who knows how to use it. He’s got good speed for his size, but isn’t anything to write home about offensively.”
Cole Shelton of sportskeeda: C+.
Benjamin Zweirman of DraftKings Nation: C. “Stramel was a top prospect who fell out of favor after posting just 12 points in 33 games for the Badgers. He’s got good size and has compete but that isn’t going to help you much in the NHL. At best, Stramel feels like an OK fourth-liner who can penalty kill and take up space/set screens. But for a first-rounder, the bust probability feels high for Stramel.”
Eric D of Penalty Box Radio: F. “I’m very much not surprised Stramel was a first-round pick with his size, translatable skills, and pedigree in international hockey. But wow, the Wild left a ton of skill on the board. I ranked Stramel 60th on my final list.”
Corey Pronman of The Athletic ($): C+. “I was a Charlie Stramel fan throughout the draft process. He’s not perfect by any means, but I think he’s going to play and help an NHL team down the middle. Rasmus Kumpulainen at 53 was a bit high for me. I knew people in the league who had him around that range, but I couldn’t get there. Riley Heidt is very skilled and could make it if he rounds out his game over the next few years.”
Chris Peters of FloHockey: B. “The Wild got to pick up a home-state kid with Charlie Stramel who has a mountain of upside and plays an NHL-style game. He has more to put together, but there are some special qualities in his athletic toolkit. Meanwhile, the Wild got two strong pickups in the second round as both Kumpulainen and Heidt have some higher-end traits. Heidt is one of the better passers in the draft and I had a first-round grade on him. I really like Aaron Pionk, too, who had a tremendous season in Waterloo as a true two-way defenseman with some size. Jimmy Clark was also a standout in the USHL with Green Bay this year. Overall, they bet on upside, which comes with some risk, but I think most of these picks were good bets.”
Steve Ellis of Daily Faceoff: B-. “A lot of people like the Wild’s picks more than me, that’s for sure. Charlie Starmel still feels boom-bust to me, but I like Riley Heidt (more than Stramel) and Rasmus Kumpulainen in the second round. Aaron Pionk showed some promise as a physical, shutdown defender in the USHL.”
Kyle Cushman of theScore: C+. “Stramel struggled mightily as a freshman at Wisconsin after a strong career previously with the U.S. NTDP. The Wild will hope to see the big, mobile pivot rediscover his form as a sophomore. Kumpulainen is on the younger side of the class and produced in Finland's junior league and at the U18s. Heidt was superb value at the end of the second round, having matched Bedard for the WHL lead in assists. He likely shifts to the wing but has significant power-play upside and doesn't shy away from physicality. A solid draft that addressed premium positions.”
Ian Kennedy of Yahoo Sports: B-. “Charlie Stramel is a physically powerful player. He hasn’t produced offensively in the NCAA, but at worst can carry a third line. That’s not necessarily how you hope to spend the 21st overall pick, but he’s a solid prospect with upside. Riley Heidt provided excellent value with the final pick of Round 2, and Rasmus Kumpulainen needs polishing, but has potential.”
Jake Rill of Bleacher Report: B.