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  • Wild Triple-Down On Center With Riley Heidt At 64th Overall

    Image courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    The Minnesota Wild addressed their needs for size down the middle by doubling up on centers Charlie "Big Rig" Stramel (21st overall) and Rasmus "Finnish Big Rig" Kumpulainen (53rd) with their first two picks of the 2023 NHL Draft. With two centers in the fold, the Wild had the luxury of turning their attention to another need at Pick 64, which they acquired from Jordan "Former Big Rig" Greenway.

    Why not the glaring hole at center? That's what the Wild did with the last selection in the second round, scooping up a falling Riley Heidt out of the WHL's Prince George Cougars.

    Stramel was a hot topic of debate, being widely perceived as the "safe" pick that fans don't necessarily dream about getting in the first round. But Heidt is the player you can dream on, with skills for days. FC Hockey had him ranked 21st in their Draft Guide. They grade his playmaking, puck-handling, and hockey sense as "High-End," with an above-average shot, to boot. 

    Scouts might have been scared off by Heidt's height. He's listed at 5-foot-10 and a slight 170 pounds. Is he going to have the size to stick down the middle? That might be a concern that led to him falling one pick shy of the third round.

    But guess who doesn't have that problem? The Wild. With Stramel and Kumpulainen in the fold, Minnesota has insurance if Heidt goes off to the wing. If they made the right bets on their big centers, all Minnesota has to worry about is whether or not Heidt develops into a good player instead of what position he'll ultimately land at.

    Make no mistake, Heidt is a good prospect despite his tumble in the draft. He stepped into a full-time role with Prince George last year and was instantly a nearly point-per-game player, with 21 goals and 58 points in 65 games. He turned it up another notch this season, finishing tied for fourth in the WHL with 97 points in 68 games.

    We'll have more on Heidt later, but this is a player Wild fans can get excited about, with no qualifications whatsoever.

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    How did Heidt fall to 64th? 

    Some questions about him giving up at the end of games when his team was behind it looks like?

    Heidt can skate and had Beckman/Jarvis numbers in the WHL. Weird, Beckman was 70th overall I think?

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    Maybe it pays to be persistent? Banging the "we need centers" drum certainly got the message through. It was easy to see it in the playoffs.....3 straight years. Surely Shooter saw it too!

    I'd like to see Heidt get traded. No, not to another NHL franchise but in Jr. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Prince George is a jr hockey powerhouse. Also, it's now time to get the message across to Heidt that he will need to bulk up. I'm hoping he hits 185 by the end of next year. Get in the gym, Riley, you need upper body strength to move up!

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    He's listed between 5'10" - 5'11". Not 200lbs like mnfaninnc's target but not too small. I like the Barzal, Point, comparisons since they all played in the WHL. Barzal is a little taller but Heidt has a record of scoring in numbers similar to these players. Cozens had similar WHL numbers and Zach Benson who went 13th overall had only one more point than Heidt. If guys like Marner can be successful in the NHL, then I don't see why the Wild wouldn't be psyched to have got three kinds of centers early in a deep draft.


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