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  • Ryan Healey Can Be the Wild's Next Prized Defenseman Prospect

    Kalisha Turnipseed

    The Minnesota Wild addressed their need for more right-shot defensemen in its arsenal this summer. Sure, captain Jared Spurgeon at the NHL level goes a long way, but beyond that, who knows? Alternate captain Matt Dumba only has one year left on his contract, and besides, needs to stay healthy and improve his offensive consistency. There's the mysterious Calen Addison who packs tons of power play upside, but hasn't broken into the big leagues yet.


    So Minnesota went shopping. They got the determined Captain America in Brock Faber via the Kevin Fiala trade. He looks to be a good top-four, two-way defenseman. Between Addison and Faber, the next wave of the Wild's defensive core of right shots looks to be promising. But there's one player who isn't nearly as raved about who should be included in this core. 2022 Draftee Ryan Healey is more than your typical fourth-round pick. While Healey didn't take a typical hockey path, he packs standout skills.


    While most NHL hopefuls hyper-specialize by hitting the rink and growing their on-ice skills year-round, Healey was a multi-sport athlete. In an August 2020 interview with Jason Podollan, Healey and his father Eric discussed this. Lacrosse, baseball, and surfing came after hockey season, and the skates were put away. He likes to utilize his other skill sets from the other sports, and translate them to hockey.


    But now Healey is committed to Harvard University, where he will continue to dive into the hockey world, preparing him for full-time duty at the NHL level. Ryan has the tools to be a legitimate threat, and his athletic ability stood out at Minnesota's development camp. Now it's time to specialize, and the more he does going forward, the more you'll see him thrive. 


    The good news is, hockey is in his family already. Eric only played 2 NHL games with the Boston Bruins, but he had a long career in the AHL, and even some time in Europe. Eric didn't get to accomplish his dreams of winning the Stanley Cup. Now that Ryan had NHL aspirations of his own, Eric wanted to make sure Ryan gets farther than him, if that meant very strict coaching. The "Bill Guerin treatment," as it were. 


    Up until now, Healey hasn't produced big numbers. He enjoyed a little bit of a breakout year this season with 21 points in 59 games, but at the USHL, that's not a lot. When it comes to being a defenseman, production isn't everytrhing. You need to be good at keeping pucks out of the net. However, production is the next-level ingredient to make a defenseman an ultimate standout. Take Cale Makar for example, someone whose game Healey should strive to emulate.



    Ryan's freshman year will be crucial in his quest in getting the development he needs before his professional jump. Unless he makes a legit impact on the score sheet, juniors and seniors will likely get bigger roles. It'd be great if Healey can crush it a depth role, playing on the second powerplay and experiencing playing against bigger forwards. He can bring a physical element to his arsenal, which is exciting to see. Now, he may not be as nasty as Ryan O'Rourke is projected to be, but he also won't take crap from anyone. He should hold his own against upperclassmen, as he won't threatened by anyone.


    Grabbing onto a legit shot will do wonders for Healey. If he can take smart shots at Harvard, along with adding strength and power to them, his skating will take care of the rest. You definitely want Healey out on a 3-on-3. Just imagine him alongside Kaprizov one day. Harvard has recently graduated defensemen Adam Fox and John Marino to the NHL, so he's going to work with good coaches. They can make Healey a force to be reckoned with.



    Healey is somewhat of a project. He's pretty raw as a prospect, electric, but without tons of playing experience and the kind of 24/7 training others have. You want to see him grow into his body more, as he's currently just 6'0", 172 pounds. But he's a committed player who can bring versatility to the table. Being more protective in his own end will compliment the mobility and high-end skill he has to provide an offensive punch. As a fourth-round pick in this year's draft, he's about as low-risk and high-reward as it gets. Can he be a late bloomer? Only time will tell now, but the tools are there.

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