Hockey Wilderness is counting down the Minnesota Wild’s Top-10 Prospects, as voted by our staff. Today, we give you everything you need to know about our No. 10 prospect, Charlie Stramel.
The Minnesota Wild were down one “Big Rig” after trading Jordan Greenway last season, so it was obviously an organizational priority to get another one. They accomplished this mission when they took Rosemount’s Charlie Stramel 21st overall in this year’s draft out of the University of Wisconsin.
Stramel is regarded as a big, two-way, physical center with some skill, something that the Wild brass (and the entire state of Minnesota) thought the organization was missing in their prospect pool. They doubled down on that in the second round, taking another big centerman in Rasmus Kumpulainen.
Stramel is 6-foot-3 and weighs over 220 pounds and his athleticism is off the charts for a kid his size. Combine scores don’t hold as much value in the NHL as they do in sports like the NFL, but Stramel’s performance was notable. The power in his lower body literally jumps at you, and his upper-body strength was just as impressive.
If you talked to scouts before last season, Stramel was a projected top-ten pick. His size, skill, and upside were coveted among this class. There were multiple respected draft gurus that had Stramel in the top ten of their rankings. The Athletic's Corey Pronman as well as Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News both had Stramel ranked at eight overall. TSN's Craig Button ranked him ninth in the class at one point.
The biggest knock on Stramel was his lack of production in his freshman season in Madison. He was seventh on the team in points with 12. Despite playing most of the season on the top line, he registered just five goals.
It should be noted that Stramel was one of the youngest players in all of college hockey last season, and still might be next year, seeing as he won't turn 19 until this fall. He easily could have waited a year to play and been a freshman this season. Stramel also faced some of the toughest competition in the entire NCAA as Minnesota and Michigan, two Big Ten powerhouses, returned to relevance and had terrific seasons. Penn State and Michigan State also finished as top-ten teams in the nation. All told, 18 of the Badger's 33 games were against those teams.
During his 2021-22 season with the USA U18 team, Stramel was nearly a point-per-game player. As one of the youngest players on that team, Stramel did not struggle to produce. In fact, he was also one of the youngest players on that team the year prior, making the U18 team as a 16-year-old, putting himself in rare company.
Stramel's stats at that age are very similar to that of Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk. Stramel scored at a pace of 0.88 points per game, while Tkachuk scored at a 0.91 points per game pace. If that’s any kind of projection for a player that Stramel could be, Wild fans should be hootin’ and hollerin’. The younger Tkachuk brother is another solid comparison to Stramel. Tkachuk and Stramel share some similar characteristics. At the very least, he’s an American power forward with offensive upside.
I had the privilege of talking to one of his former teammates, and he gave me some more insight into Stramel’s game. He wanted to be left anonymous, so I’ll summarize his comments below.
Stramel’s skill and what he brings to the game is apparent. He plays a full 200-foot game. He’s not afraid to work hard or go to the areas where opponents will batter him. Stramel will be there to battle for pucks in the corner or in front of the net. He’s tenacious, fighting for loose pucks or in puck battles on the boards. Stramel works his butt off on the backcheck and the forecheck.
He’s got a rocket of a shot and is a really tough skater. Stramel plays to his size and can dominate other players with his length and reach. He’s not afraid to play the body and elevates the situation.
On a more personal level, he called Stramel an awesome teammate. He’s always the positive voice in the locker room. Not a cocky player at all. He stays humble out there and just works.
Below are some more highlights that showcase what Stramel can bring to the table.
Goal off the rush:
Nifty centering pass:
Revere hit entering the offensive zone:
Hockey Prospecting is a website that projects players based on their NHL Equivalency (NHLe) in their respective leagues. This model is not a huge fan of Stramel. The stats show that 6 out of 10 of the players who look like Stramel that teams draft in the first or second round don’t play 200 NHL games.
But Roope Hintz of the Dallas Stars is a more recent example of a player who had a similar development path. Hintz also saw a dip in production during his draft season. But he rebounded the next year, and we all know what he goes on to do. 12 points in six playoff games against the Wild last spring makes him hard to forget.
Hintz and Stramel are similar-sized players. They play a bit of a different style, though. Hintz is more of a finesse player who’s an excellent skater. Stramel uses his size more and is not as great of a skater. But they both have excellent shots and passing ability. They are also responsible centers. If Stramel turns out like Hintz, he’ll be a home run pick for his hometown team.
Charlie Stramel also is of the Charlie Coyle mold. They are large players (6-foot-3, in the 220 pound range) who play a two-way game. Stramel and Coyle use their size, have good foot speed, and have good vision. They are also consistent on the puck and can contribute offensively. In terms of play style and potential role with the Wild, they are very similar players.
Stramel probably won’t ever be a point-per-game player., but Coyle wasn’t either. Coyle has turned into a responsible, middle-six center capable of putting up 40 to 50 points, peaking with 56 in the 2016-17 season.
Stramel is not the guy the Wild expect to anchor the top line. But he could slot into a middle-six role and be a positive force at both ends. Becoming a Brock Nelson-type player is a good way to think of what his potential peak could look like. Someone with a big frame who can play at both ends of the ice.
Most of the scouts agree that Stramel will be an NHL player one day, lumping him into a group of high-floor, low-ceiling type of players. The Wild even said they passed on more skilled players in favor of Stramel.
Looking to next year, Wisconsin brought in new head coach Mike Hastings after the abysmal season they had last year. He should change the culture and bring a little more stability. Hastings coached for 11 seasons at Mankato, racking up an incredible 299-109-25 record, which makes him the NCAA's active leader in win percentage as a coach.
“I think we have a lot better tools in place overall,” Stramel said, self-evaluating. “But I do think [I need to keep] learning, rewatching games, and figuring out what I need to [do to] take a whole 'nother step in my sophomore year.”
Stramel recognizes that he struggled last year, he’s ready and willing to learn from that and be better this season. Stramel will give Minnesotans a reason to pay attention to hockey in Wisconsin this season. He’s had a year to process the hardships of playing in the NCAA. But with a new coach and a new system, this year should be fun for Stramel and help him get back on track.
All stats and data via Elite Prospects and HockeyDB.