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Lodnia Showing Well in Traverse City

Wild's top draft pick in June is one of the youngest players competing in prospect tournament

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- After a week of on-ice work at its annual prospect Development Camp back in July, Iowa Wild coach Derek Lalonde saw the reason why Minnesota used its first pick in the 2017 NHL Draft to select Ivan Lodnia.

Lodnia, a forward from the Erie Otters of Ontario Hockey League, was as skilled as you could dream of and was blessed with all of the God-given ability one could ask for.

He was also a hard worker, a willing learner and a good teammate. But as with any 17-year-old, he had plenty to work on.

"Classic skill guy. The puck just seems to find him," Lalonde said. "I've liked his compete [level], his ability to win 50/50s, his ability to get into hard areas. But his detail has to come.

"With young skilled guys that have always had a lot of talent, it's natural for them to take some time with the detail. You want to give them space to be creative and make plays. But little details - positioning, stick details, defensive zone coverage, wall play - he'll have to grow in. There's a ton of upside there."

Lalonde was especially pleased with Lodnia's practices during development camp, but said his play in the couple of scrimmages was just "okay." It was one of the reasons why he said he tempered his expectations for him coming into the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. 

One of the youngest players in the tournament, Lalonde expected Lodnia to fit somewhere on a second or third line here. Instead, he has seen more than his fair share of time playing with guys like Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin, each expected to compete for roster spots in Minnesota once NHL training camp begins on Friday. 

"He had a fine development camp, but where he stood out to me was in practices, because of that elite skill set," Lalonde said. "Now, all of the sudden, he's gravitating into these key situations and complementing the top guys. There's a bunch of improvement since July, which is really exciting."

Lodnia has had a busy summer, working hard to keep raising his potential. 

After getting drafted 85th overall by the Wild in Chicago at the NHL Draft in June, Lodnia participated in his first development camp in July. Later that month, he played for the United States at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan, a tournament that lasted into early August.

He also, officially, became an adult, when he celebrated his 18th birthday on Aug. 31.

"It's been a great summer, not a lot of resting time," Lodnia said. "Now, you just do the best you can here and wherever I end up, be the best player I can be."

The next step for Lodnia will be training camp, where he said he wants to continue showing what he can do. After that, it's likely he's headed back to Erie, where he should be one of the top players in the OHL.

Playing with players like Kunin and especially Eriksson Ek, who played in three games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, has certainly provided him with a quality benchmark, wherever he lands.

"You just try to be the best player that you can be," Lodnia said. "You can't try and be like them. You made it here because of the way you play and who you are. It's a good measuring stick, but you gotta keep doing what you're doing."


Shaw staying positive

Another player drafted by the Wild in 2017 who is in Traverse City is forward Mason Shaw, picked by Minnesota in the fourth round (97th overall). 

Shaw was off to a strong start in the tournament, tallying a pair of assists in the Wild's 6-5 come-from-behind win over the St. Louis Blues in Friday's opener. He began Saturday's contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets paired with Lodnia and Joel Eriksson Ek on the team's top line before sustaining a potentially serious knee injury in the second period.

Shaw needed assistance to get off the ice and has been on crutches the past couple of days. He could have gone back to the Twin Cities to get an MRI on Monday, but felt it was important to stick around and support his teammates in Traverse City, opting to fly back with the team on Tuesday. He will see a doctor on Wednesday and hopefully get some clarity on his situation then.

"A couple of days won't make a difference," Shaw said. 

Up until the injury, the 18-year-old Shaw, who turns 19 in November, was putting an exclamation point on what has been a strong first summer in a Wild uniform.

He said he felt good about what he was able to accomplish at July's prospect camp in St. Paul and also his participation at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan, where he competed for Team Canada.

"It's been really busy, but if I wanted it to be a good summer, it was going to be that way," Shaw said. "My time with the Wild so far has been awesome and I've enjoyed all my experiences. I look forward to what the future holds with them."

Shaw said he especially gained from the focus on skill work at development camp and was able to continue building those skills after leaving Minnesota a couple of months ago.

"I got a lot out of the summer camp," Shaw said. "It was very beneficial."

If Shaw receives the worst-case scenario on his knee, he would likely miss most, if not all, of the upcoming season. Shaw says he's trying to maintain a positive attitude however, and if the injury ends up being less serious than initially expected he will head back to Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League, where he scored 27 goals and 94 points in 71 games for the Tigers last season.

"Hopefully we get good news, hopefully it's just a small injury," Shaw said.

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