LOS ANGELES – Ray Ferraro says Wild fans have good reason to be excited about prospects Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Karill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek.
In his role as analyst for Canada’s TSN, the former NHLer watched from between the benches for most every one of their games during the world junior championship.
Here’s Ferraro’s take on each:
The United States’ Greenway: “I can’t get enough of him. I can’t get five seconds past this kid without thinking of Todd Bertuzzi, like the good Todd Bertuzzi. Remember when Bert was at his best, how dominant he was? Greenway is big, skates well, handles the puck, has really soft hands, protects the puck, cycles the puck. I have no idea how Minnesota got him in the second round. I can’t believe this kid sat in the draft that long. If you’re not wowed by this kid almost immediately, I’ll be shocked. He can play in every situation. He’s 6-foot-5. He turned the [gold-medal] game around. Of the four guys the Wild have, he has the chance to be the most dominant without question.”
The United States’ Kunin: “I don’t know how anybody can find anything they don’t like about him. He’s competitive, straight line, direct, likes to shoot, plays every situation. He captains them to gold, he captains Wisconsin as a sophomore, he was captain for the U-18 gold-medal team that had Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk. The Granatos [Tony and Don are Ferraro’s brothers-in-law], his coaches, love him. Like, I basically had to tell Donny when he was telling me about Kunin, ‘OK, that’s enough. I’ve only got so much time in a broadcast.’ But he just loves the kid. The one thing I would say, I don’t exactly know where he projects. He’s a sure-fire NHLer, it’s just is he a 3 or is he a 2 [center]? I don’t know, but it’s going to be a nice problem to figure out.”
Russia’s Kaprizov, who led the tournament with nine goals: “He was the heartbeat of that team, their captain. He’s not a super big guy. He’s got more of a short, stocky build, but he was aggressive on the puck, he hunts it, he’s a little chippy, he can score, he shoots on the move. The one question is if he can play at the pace that he needs to play at. The tough part is, ‘How do you know?’ He’s got to get over here and play. But when the rest of the Russian team kind of meanders their way around, he doesn’t. He doesn’t play a European game.”
Sweden’s Eriksson Ek: “Steady. I don’t know exactly what he doesn’t do because he does a little bit of everything. There’s no one standout skill that you go, ‘Oh my God, he can do this.’ He’s not real fast, but he’s not slow. He’s not a bull like Greenway, but he’s strong. He shoots pretty well. He’s smart. So smart. He just never seemed in a rush to go anywhere because he was in the right place to start with. He’ll play in the NHL next year.”
Ferraro said the Wild might run into, “What if Eriksson Ek and Kunin play the same position in the lineup? But it’s not a terrible problem to have because they’ll both be NHL players. Kaprizov is the only one I’m not so sure about, but only because he’s Russian and I don’t know how he’ll react to the North American game. But the other three are NHL players.”
• The Wild reunited Jonas Brodin and Christian Folin on the blue line Saturday against the Kings and paired Marco Scandella with Matt Dumba. Nate Prosser was scratched.
• Kurtis Gabriel dressed up front and Jordan Schroeder sat.