Boston kid will feel right at home with Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2011 - 12:17 AM

Charlie Coyle, the Wild's blue-chip prospect from BU, is among those attending development camp this week.

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Charlie Coyle after he was drafted in the first round last year by San Jose.

Photo: Reed Saxon, Dml - Associated Press

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Charlie Coyle is a rink rat -- plain and simple.

Want proof? The blue-chip Wild prospect was asked last week to name some of his other interests.

"Uhhhhhhhhh. Ummmmmmmmm. Hockey, hockey, lifting, hockey. Pretty much hockey and hockey," Coyle said with a wicked Boston accent. "That's pretty much it. Hockey."

Yup, Coyle should fit in just fine in Minnesota.

Raring to get going for this week's Wild development camp, Coyle touched down in the "State of Hockey" for the first time in his life on Sunday. Two weeks ago, Coyle was supposed to fly to San Jose instead.

The Boston University power forward and former Massachusetts prep star was sitting on his comfy couch on the night of June 24 watching the NHL draft when he e-mailed the San Jose Sharks his flight itinerary for their development camp.

"Literally 10 seconds after I sent it, I get a call from them. I thought they were going to yell at me about it or something. [Sharks General Manager] Doug Wilson goes, 'No, we're trading ya,'" Coyle said, laughing.

"I was sitting with my family expecting to enjoy watching a couple of my teammates get drafted. I had no clue I'd be a part of it."

A year earlier, Coyle was at the draft in Los Angeles when the Sharks selected him 28th overall. A year later, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was on stage in St. Paul to announce Devin Setoguchi, Coyle and a first-round pick were traded to the Wild for Brent Burns and a second-round pick.

Bettman's announcement 10 minutes after Wilson's phone call was the first time Coyle learned just how big the trade was.

"It's pretty crazy," he said. "I haven't even played an NHL game yet and then to hear I'm in the same trade with some pretty good NHL players was pretty cool."

Coyle, 19, is one of the newest in a broadening pool of Wild prospects who will take the ice this week. Forty-two prospects and invitees are in the Twin Cities for development camp, which will consist of four practices, lots of workouts and oodles of off-ice activities, such as leadership training with former Army Ranger J.B. Spisso, dinners and a paintball competition.

The week will end with scrimmages Saturday and Sunday. Both are free, open to the public and will give eager Wild fans their first opportunity to watch such top prospects as Coyle and Mikael Granlund live and in-person.

A year ago, the Wild had Coyle ranked in the mid-teens on its draft list. He was a star at Weymouth High School, then Thayer Academy, where his cousin, Tony Amonte, and Jeremy Roenick once attended. He then played for the Eastern Junior Hockey League's South Shore Kings, where he was Rookie of the Year and finished fifth in scoring with 63 points.

The 6-3, 220-pound Coyle, who began lifting weights the summer before eighth grade and dominated the physical testing at last year's draft scouting combine, then followed a lifelong dream by attending Boston University. He'd ultimately be named Hockey East's Rookie of the Year.

"There was nowhere else I really wanted to go. Tony [Amonte] went there," said Coyle, who got some coaching from his cousin -- who scored 416 goals and 900 points in his NHL career -- at Thayer. "I've always been a BU guy. I played for the Boston Junior Terriers when I was little. Tony was No. 3 at BU, and now I'm No. 3."

Considered near-ready to turn pro, Coyle will return to school in the fall, said Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr. The Wild feels the development he'll gain by playing at least one more year at BU and a second year on Team USA in the world junior championships will be valuable.

"He's a big strong kid, plays in the hard areas, he's smart, he's skilled, he's really competitive. He almost thrives in traffic," Flahr said. "He likes to play on the walls and around the net. He's a bull in his own age group. Where he's at in his career, all signs point to him being a [top-2-line power forward in the NHL]."

That's why Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the Setoguchi-Burns trade doesn't happen if Coyle's not involved.

"I couldn't believe he said that," Coyle said. "It gives me confidence to know they have that much confidence in me and that they wanted me that much. It gives me motivation to work harder to get there so I can really be a part of their organization and contribute."

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