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  • Riley Heidt Is Ready To Make A Calder Impact

    Image courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
    Kalisha Turnipseed


    The Minnesota Wild didn’t waste time signing Riley Heidt to his entry-level contract (ELC). The Wild should be excited to see Heidt make his debut. However, if he shows he’s not ready to play in the NHL in 2024-25, Heidt is set to take over a full-time role, replacing Marcus Johansson in 2025-26 or Mats Zuccarello in 2026-27. 

    Heidt is ready to make a Calder Trophy impact. 

    The Wild selected Heidt 64th overall in the 2023 draft. It’s hard to get a player who can be star-caliber outside of the first round, but Heidt has projected to be a star since Minnesota took him. Vincent Trochek is his draft comparison. The Florida Panthers drafted Trochek 64th overall in 2011, and he quickly became a third-round steal. 

    The Panthers traded Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in February 2020, but Trochek had top-nine value in Florida, scoring 282 points in 420 games played. That’s 0.67 points per game, or a 55-point pace. His best season with the Panthers was in 2017-18 when he scored 31 goals and 44 assists (75 points) in 82 games. Trochek finished behind Aleksander Barkov, who led Florida with 78 points (28 goals and 51 assists) in 79 games played. Trocheck led the team in goals that year. 

    Trochek played 135 games in Carolina and scored 96 points. His best season was the 2020-21 season. In the COVID-shortened 56-game season, Trocheck scored 43 points (17 goals and 26 assists) in 47 games, finishing third in goals behind Nino Niederreiter (20) and Sebastian Aho (24). Trochek has shown to be a top-three goal scorer in both stints, scoring nearly 20 goals in the pandemic-shortened season. 

    The New York Rangers signed Trochek to a seven-year, $39.375 million contract in July 2022, and he took his game to another level in their top-six this season. He’s on pace to reach 80 points, a new milestone. Trochek is third on the Rangers with 45 assists behind Adam Fox (47) and Artemi Panarin (56), so he's second in assists among forwards. 

    What can we make of Trochek’s career so far? He’s proven to be a top goal scorer and top-three producer in an NHL lineup. Trochek is 5-foot-11, 183 lbs., which is Heidt’s size. That means that Heidt has the opportunity to come in around 190 lbs this fall. Heidt can go through the Andy Ness experiment to prepare for success in 2024-25. Ness restored Marco Rossi’s confidence after he chose to miss his sister’s wedding to do excessive training. Heidt can also get the Ness bump. 

    Heidt has shown first-line potential for three straight seasons. The Wild already have Danila Yurov coming over, who’s shown signs of being the next Kaprizov. The fact that Heidt is another top-line caliber player coming over only means Minnesota has a bright future. Heidt is showing how much of a raw talent he is, and it looks like the Wild got a legit steal. 

    Heidt nearly had back-to-back 100-point seasons in 2022-23 (97) and 2023-24 (117). However, his production increased by 20 points this year, which shows that he has another gear and can improve upon his production. If Heidt happens to play another year in the WHL, then Heidt can improve from 117 points after playing nine NHL games. If Yurov’s thinking about playing another year in the KHL, Heidt will be able to distract Wild fans if he plays in St. Paul. He would put the rest of the Central Division on notice that new talent is emerging. 

    What is Heidt’s future outlook? He will likely pursue a second-line role alongside Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy, who should boost Heidt’s chances of becoming a well-rounded player at even-strength and take center stage quarterbacking the second power-play unit with Declan Chisholm. By doing this, the Wild would put Heidt in a position to succeed by reducing the immediate pressure on him. However, he’s a power play specialist, giving him an immediate avenue to improve the Wild. 

    Heidt is ready for the next step in his career. He’s done dominating the WHL but can't play in the AHL to develop like Boldy and Rossi. Expect Heidt to come into training camp determined to make a name for himself and solidify a roster spot, improving the team from within. He should be motivated to play with Kaprizov, Boldy, Eriksson Ek, and Brock Faber. That’s why he belongs on a high-end roster like Liam Ohgren, Marat Khusnutdinov, Carson Lambos, Jesper Wallstedt, and Yurov


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    19 hours ago, Lovehockey said:

    The size ( and weight ) does matter but not always. From top 15 points leaders in NHL this year:

    Kucherov - 5.11 181 125 points 

     Panarin - 6.0 174 - 102 points 

    Pettersson 6.2 176 - 84 points

    Hughes 5.10 180 - 81 points

    Point 5.11 180 - 81 Points

    if Wild can get this type of production from Heidt I don’t think anyone will be worrying how big or small he is.

    It should be right combination of skills and size I agree on this

    This is true, however, Heidt likes to take the body and get involved in scrums. Looking at the above list, I do not see any of those guys wanting to do that. So, my strength/weight comment was catering to the style of play that Heidt likes to play.

    I'm not sure if he is a drop the gloves kind of guy, or more of an Ek pushing and shoving type of guy. Bottom line is, though, either way he needs the strength.

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    21 hours ago, Pewterschmidt said:

    Rossi is really growing on me because it looks like he has offensive instincts that can’t be taught, but the granlund comparisons are still fair until he proves he can be effective in playoff hockey against the tall trees. I can still remember granny getting one arm manhandled by opponents

    Perhaps the comparison to Granny is that he should be moved out to wing, and that he can score points while playing a 200' game (something that Koivu was very proud of him for doing). But, to me, it seems like Rossi's center instincts are better than Granny, perhaps he is a little better skater? I think another year of beefing himself up will help against the tall trees, especially if he can get them off balance with elite edge work. 

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    On 3/27/2024 at 12:15 PM, MacGyver said:

    Now we already got Riley Heidt winning the Calder? Haha Faber hasen't won it this year yet! Can we pump the brakes just a little?? 🤣


    Heidt is set to take over a full-time role, replacing Marcus Johansson in 2025-26 or Mats Zuccarello in 2026-27. 

    Heidt is ready to make a Calder Trophy impact. 

    In a year or two...why not??

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