Alex Tuch is expected to make his much-anticipated NHL debut for the Wild Saturday in Vancouver.
The Wild’s 2014 first-round draft pick, selected No. 18 overall, was recalled from AHL Iowa Thursday morning midway through his first professional season.
The 6-foot-4, 217-pound right wing scored two goals in the AHL All-Star Game Monday and could find his way onto the Wild’s first line soon.
In honor of Tuch’s impending debut, we ranked 10 recent (since 2000) high-profile/anticipated debuts of former first-round draft picks playing in the Minnesota sports market.
10. Mikko Koivu - No. 6 overall in 2001 NHL draft
Koivu began playing professional hockey as a 17-year-old in Finland and appeared regularly on the country’s national teams. He debuted with the Wild Nov. 11, 2005, against San Jose. He only played 13 minutes and had no shots on goal. The forward from Finland scored a goal in his second game and finished the season with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists).
9. Teddy Bridgewater – No. 32 overall in 2014 NFL draft
Bridgewater helped turn around Louisville’s football program and became one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football. He made his NFL debut Sept. 21, 2014, against the New Orleans Saints, stepping in for injured starter Matt Cassel. Bridgewater totaled 150 yards on 12-of-20 passing in the 20-9 loss. The rookie started and beat Atlanta 41-28 the next week, and took over the starting job for good. Bridgewater was 6-6 in his first season and threw for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
8. Christian Ponder – No. 12 overall in 2011 NFL draft
Ponder was the first quarterback selected by the Vikings in the first round in 12 years. He debuted Oct. 16, 2011, in a blowout victory over Chicago. He completed nine passes for 99 yards. Like Bridgewater, he earned his first start the following week and on his first pass as a starter connected for a 72-yard completion. He recorded his first touchdown two plays later. Ponder totaled 1,853 passing yards, threw 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while compiling a 2-8 record.
7. Maya Moore – No. 1 overall pick in 2011 WNBA draft
Moore led UConn’s women’s basketball team to back-to-back national championships and to an undefeated season in 2009. She debuted in the Lynx 2011 season opener with 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Her first field goal was a three-pointer, one of four in the game, from the top of the arc early in the first quarter. She finished the season averaging 13.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. She was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year and helped guide the Lynx to the franchise’s first league championship.
6. Byron Buxton – No. 2 overall in 2012 MLB draft
Buxton was supposed to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, so when the Twins picked him up at No. 2, he was touted as the franchise’s next star. He scored the winning run in his major-league debut June 14, 2015, but struck out twice. His first hit, a triple, came the next day. An injury ended his first stint with the Twins after just 10 games. He hit .209 and struck out 44 times in 46 games in his first season with the big league club.
5. Ricky Rubio – No. 5 overall in 2009 NBA draft
Rubio was a teenage European star when the Wolves selected him with their first of four first-round picks in 2009. He made his debut with the Wolves Dec. 26, 2011, 18 months after he was drafted. His high-priced buyout clause in the European League kept him in Spain for an extra season, and when he finally arrived in Minnesota fans sold out Target Center for the first time in two-plus seasons. Rubio scored six points, five rebounds and six assists in a 104-100 loss to Oklahoma City. He averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game his rookie season.
4. Mikael Granlund – No. 9 overall in 2010 NHL draft
Granland was ranked the best European skater in the 2010 draft class and was a star on Finland’s national teams. His debut was delayed by the NHL lockout and he played his first game with the Wild Jan. 19, 2013, the team’s season opener. Granlund scored a goal early in the second period of a 4-2 loss, but struggled after his impressive debut and didn’t score another goal for nearly a month. He totaled two goals and six assists in 27 games during his rookie season.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns – No. 1 overall in 2015 NBA draft
Towns was the franchise' first No. 1 overall pick and joining two other No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) on the Wolves roster. He debuted Oct. 28, 2015, with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wolves past the Los Angeles Lakers 112-111. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
2. Adrian Peterson – No. 7 overall in 2007 NFL draft
Peterson set an NCAA freshman record with 1,925 yards, was a First Team All-American, and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2004. He battled injuries as a sophomore and junior, but still managed over 1,000 yards each season. He debuted with the Vikings Sept. 9, 2007, and rushed for 103 yards and on 19 carries. He also caught a 60-yard pass for a touchdown. Peterson finished the season with 1,341 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and named to the Pro Bowl.
1. Joe Mauer – No. 1 overall in 2001 MLB draft
Mauer was the Twin Cities' hometown hero as a prep superstar at Cretin-Derham Hall. He picked baseball over football for his future and the Twins, coming off a 93-loss season, used their top pick to select the local product. Mauer debuted in the 2004 season opener going 2-for-3 with two walks. He injured his knee the next day and would miss two months before returning to the field. He was shut down for the season in July after continuing to experience knee pain. Mauer finished the season with a .308 batting average, six home runs and 17 RBI.
Rank your Top 10 in the comments.