The Wild’s annual summer development camp ends Sunday with a 5 p.m. scrimmage that is open to the public at Xcel Energy Center, and the most intriguing line has been Sam Anas, a college free agent out of Quinnipiac, with 2014 and 2015 first-round picks Alex Tuch and Joel Eriksson Ek.
The trio combined for two goals in Thursday’s scrimmage and flashed a lot of skill.
“It’s good for me to know they think of me in the same caliber as those players, two first-round picks,” said Anas, who looks like a finisher.
Earlier this offseason, it was reported out of Sweden that Eriksson Ek would return to play for Farjestad next season. The Wild quickly disputed the report, and General Manager Chuck Fletcher said on Thursday that Eriksson Ek will attend training camp in September.
“He’s coming to make the team,” Fletcher said. “Again, it’s July, but he’s a talented kid, he’s in great shape, he works hard. We’ll see what the coaches like and how he does in camp, but he’s really improved a lot in the last year.”
If Eriksson Ek, 19, who weighs 198 pounds (up 15 pounds from last summer) doesn’t make the team, Fletcher said it’ll be determined then if he goes to Iowa in the American Hockey League or Farjestad.
“Farjestad is a great program, and he’s going to have an important role on that team if he was to go back,” Fletcher said. “We have to take that into consideration. He’s going to get national team games, clearly going to play on the world junior team. We’ll just see. We’ve left that completely open. We told him, ‘Come to camp, see how you fit in and see how it plays out,’ and then we’ll make the decision as to what’s best for him.”
Tuch is hoping to make a good impression with what he’s calling a “steppingstone.”
“Development camp’s where Bruce Boudreau first gets to see you play and hopefully it goes well and he likes what he’s seeing. I’ll take it into Sunday,” Tuch said. “The next steppingstone is the rookie tournament [in Traverse City in September]. I want to show what I have there compared to all the other best rookies in the NHL and hopefully make an impact and come into training camp with a lot of confidence.”
Because six Wild players will be at the World Cup of Hockey during training camp, Boudreau will get a long look at such roster hopefuls as Anas, Eriksson Ek, Tuch, Christoph Bertschy, Zack Mitchell and Grayson Downing.
Fletcher said the Wild arguably has 10 top-nine forwards: “The young guys have to come in and play really well to earn a spot.”
Seeking a forward
The Wild could probably use at least one more NHL forward. Veteran Matt Cullen, as well as Ryan Carter and Chris Porter, would love to return. As of now, Fletcher wants to be patient because of internal competition and potential trades.
“We’ll continue to speak to some of the agents for some of the free agents,” he said. “We’ll speak to some GMs and see what’s maybe there and I thought it was important to get into this week and see where people are physically.
“There are some kids who can legitimately push for openings, so I don’t know that we’re in a big hurry to add right now. I think we’ll be patient and wait even into camp if we have to.”
Dumba still unsigned
Defenseman Matt Dumba remains the Wild’s most notable unsigned restricted free agent. “I don’t anticipate any problems,” Fletcher said.
One interesting player in camp is 6-5 Hungarian goalie Adam Vay, who is hoping to one day become the first Hungarian to play in the NHL.
“He played in the Hungarian-Romanian League, if I’m not mistaken, last year. We don’t have a great scouting presence in that league,” Fletcher said, sarcastically. “He’s a gamer. Big, athletic, he has things he has to learn, but he’s excited about that.”