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Reilly, Tuch among Wild's top five prospects

by Jon Lane / NHL.com

With the signing of defenseman Mike Reilly, the Minnesota Wild added to a prospect pool set up for present and future gains. Reilly, an unrestricted free agent whose draft rights with the Columbus Blue Jackets expired June 15, has a legitimate chance to earn an NHL roster spot and add to Minnesota's deep defense this season.

"The next step is to get to training camp and come in great shape and be ready to play against men," Reilly told the Wild website. "I'm looking forward to that challenge. It's going to be a lot of learning curves of ups and downs and mistakes, but I'm ready to embrace it and learn quickly to hopefully adapt to the pro level."

Here is a look at the Wild's top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. Mike Reilly, D

How acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 1, 2015

Last season: University of Minnesota, Big Ten: 39 GP, 6-36-42

Reilly (6-foot-2, 186 pounds) impressed during a development camp scrimmage and if the 22-year-old plays in the NHL, he'll have the potential to add offensive punch. The Blue Jackets' fourth-round pick (No. 98) in the 2011 NHL Draft led NCAA defensemen in scoring and helped the United States to the bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

"We felt that he's a guy that can come in and compete right from the start of training camp for a roster spot," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "So far he's proven that to be true. I'm excited to see him in camp. He's a very dynamic offensive player."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

2. Alex Tuch, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 18), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Boston College, H-East: 37 GP, 14-14-28

Tuch, 19, is coming off a minor knee injury sustained during an exhibition game at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp, where the 6-foot-4, 225 pound forward was subsequently held off the ice for precautionary reasons. He returns to Boston College after leading the Eagles in scoring as a freshman and competing in five games at the 2015 World Junior Championship.

"I see him certainly as a top-six forward," Yeo said.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Joel Eriksson Ek, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 20), 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Farjestad, Swedish Hockey League: 34 GP, 4-2-6; Farjestad junior team: 25 GP, 21-11-32

An intelligent player offensively and defensively, Eriksson Ek, 18, made an immediate impression during a development camp scrimmage with a goal and assist while making the quick decisions required to compete in the NHL. The Wild have a long-term investment in the 6-foot-2, 184-pound center, who signed a three-year contract in July and is likely to play two more seasons in Sweden, where his father is an assistant coach for Farjestad.

"I thought he was one of the best players, if not the best player, at development camp," Yeo said. "From what I've seen his hockey sense is very, very high. That's something that's very important to me. He seems like a player that's got a mature game already."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

4. Tyler Graovac, C

How acquired: 7th round (No. 191), 2011 NHL Draft

Last season: Wild: 3 GP, 0-0-0; Iowa, AHL: 73 GP, 21-25-46

Yeo is eager to see how Graovac, 22, performs in training camp and if he can start the season with Minnesota. Lauded for his work ethic, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound center will get a long look for a bottom-six position after setting career highs in assists and points in his second professional season.

"We always approach training camp with the idea that we want to better our team, and with that we want the competition of these young kids coming in and pushing to see what they can do, but there will be nothing given to them, that's for sure," Yeo said.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Gustav Olofsson, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 46), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Iowa, AHL: 1 GP, 0-0-0

The 20-year-old likely will start this season in the AHL after missing almost all but one game last season because of shoulder surgery. Minnesota is intrigued by Olofsson, who can provide size (6-foot-3, 197 pounds) and physicality to its defense.

"We'll have an open mind in camp but for him he needs to play hockey games," Yeo said. "For him to come up and be a seventh defenseman on our team, that's not going to happen. We need him to get out there and play some meaningful minutes."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

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