The Minnesota Wild have spent the past few years stockpiling promising forwards during the middle and late rounds of the NHL draft.
The Wild drafted centers with three consecutive third-round picks in 2018, adding Jack McBain, Alexander Khovanov and Connor Dewar, before taking flyers on Damien Giroux and Sam Hentges late.
They were back at it last summer, spending first- and second-round picks on Matt Boldy and Vladislav Firstov, then adding Adam Beckman, Matvey Guskov and Nikita Nesterenko in the later rounds.
One of their more intriguing wild cards is an 18-year-old playmaker currently lighting up the WHL: Beckman, another third-round pick.
Ranked 34th amongst North American forwards by central scouting after averaging a point-per-game in his draft year, Beckman has taken a massive step forward in his second full season with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.
He posted a hat trick and tacked on two assists Saturday in a win over Seattle, and is now tied for the WHL lead with 52 points in 32 games, just 10 points off his 68-game total from last season.
Beckman ranks second amongst Wild prospects in points this season, behind only Khovanov, who has 53 points in 26 games for the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats.
A setup man for much of the season, Beckman has taken matters into his own hands in recent weeks. He has goals in six straight games after scoring the game-winner in a 3-1 win over Victoria on Tuesday, and is up to 10 goals during his scoring streak.
This isn’t exactly out of character for Beckman.
He led the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with 78 points (44 goals and 34 assists) in just 41 games before arriving in the WHL, rocketing up NHL draft boards.
You’ve seen his fancy stickwork all season.
Now, watch him stick to your favorite metal possessions with your very own Adam Beckman magnet, courtesy of @TicketsWest!
The first 1,000 fans to tonight’s game will take one home! #GoChiefsGo
TICKETS | https://t.co/qiwJg33QQ5pic.twitter.com/vKo92ZUoxP
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) December 3, 2019
Leave it to the teams leading scorer, @mnwild prospect Adam Beckman to net the 2019 Teddy Bear Toss goal bearly 40 seconds into tonights game! #GoChiefsGopic.twitter.com/Kbm3BepgAk
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) December 8, 2019
Adam Beckman does his own stunts.
@AdamBeckman9 (23) #mnwild@Eli_Zummack@kralf1#LeafsForever
10:05 (2nd) PPSPO 2 – VIC 1#GoChiefsGopic.twitter.com/rZc97QTc6N
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) December 19, 2019
— Boldy (first round, 2019) was one of the more notable omissions from Team USA’s initial roster for the World Junior Championship. A freshman, Boldy has just one goal and two assists in his first 15 games for Boston College. Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, winner of back-to-back NCAA championships, returns to lead this year’s team after serving as an assistant coach last year.
— Nesterenko (sixth round, 2019) leads the Chilliwack Chiefs and is tied for fifth amongst BCHL rookies with 30 points in 34 games after picking up an assist Tuesday. Formerly committed to Brown for next season, Nesterenko flipped to Boston College in October and is expected to arrive ahead of the 2020-21 season.
— Right wing Dmitry Sokolov (seventh round, 2016) scored twice in the Iowa Wild’s 4-3 win over Stockton on Wednesday. He scored back-to-back goals in the second period to put the Wild in front, then picked up an assist on former Bemidji State forward Kyle Bauman’s game-winner in overtime.
— Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (fourth round, 2014) returned to the AHL with Devan Dubnyk back on the bench for Minnesota. Kahkonen, 23, showed promise in his first stint with the big club. He started five games for the Wild, setting a franchise rookie record with a 44-save performance against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 3.