General Manager Chuck Fletcher said he doesn’t like to rush the development curve when it comes to the Minnesota Wild's prospects, but that doesn't have him less excited about the influx of talent in the organization.
"Our forward depth next year is going to be substantially better," Fletcher said. "How quickly these kids can make an impact, we'll see, but we'll certainly have a lot more talent in Iowa to start the season."
In addressing the personnel moves he needs to make this offseason, Fletcher was quick to cite some of the prospects in the Wild's system, like the newly signed Alex Tuch, who was Minnesota's 2014 first round pick.
"I'm really excited about Alex Tuch," Fletcher said. "Two fair criticisms of our team are that we can get a little bit bigger up front, and we can use another goal-scorer. Well, hopefully that's Alex Tuch. He's 6-foot-4, 225 (pounds), and shoots the puck as well as anybody in our organization."
When he signed with the Wild April 13, Tuch, who had just finished his sophomore season at Boston College, made it clear his goal was to make the Wild's NHL roster out of this summer's training camp.
Fletcher didn't say that was an expectation being placed on Tuch, but didn't discount the possibility either.
"He's 19 years old though, he'll be 20 next month, and it would be unfair to assume he can make our team out of camp, but he might be able to make our team out of camp," Fletcher said.
Tuch highlights a group that includes college teammate Adam Gilmour, college free agent signing Sam Anas, 2015 first-round pick Joel Eriksson Ek, 2015 second-round pick Jordan Greenway, and 2015 fifth-round pick Kirill Kaprizov, along with some of the younger players in the Wild's organization who have Fletcher thinking the Wild is on the right trajectory.
"We haven't had a player like Alex Tuch, a forward at least, enter our system in our about four years," Fletcher said. "Whenever that group of kids came in with (Mikael) Granlund, (Charlie) Coyle, (Jason) Zucker, (Johan) Larsson, that whole crew came in and that was a pretty impressive group of young players, and we've had a little bit of a drought since then with a lot of these kids playing college, and I've traded some picks away.
"But you've got a kid like Tuch coming, and hopefully kids like Greenway, and Eriksson Ek, and Kaprizov are not that far away. All four of the kids have the ability to be pretty special players, so we've got some good kids coming."
Fletcher wouldn't put a timeline on when these players could reach the NHL level. He did expect some of them to help bolster the depth of the Iowa Wild, joining a group of forwards like Grayson Downing, Christoph Bertschy, and Kurtis Gabriel.
"(Iowa) lost 29 one-goal games, which speaks more to our inability to score goals," Fletcher said. "I can tell you how many games I saw us lose 3-2 or 2-1. We didn’t have the firepower. So that’s why I’m excited about the group going into next year."