Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Wild prospect Louie Belpedio had the chance to turn pro a couple of times during his time as a college student at Miami (Ohio). He was a standout on the blue line for the Redhawks, an impact player as an underclassman who continued to develop. But Belpedio promised his parents before he left for school that he'd get his college degree no matter what. "It was tough. It's almost impossible to keep (pro hockey) out of my head," said Belpedio, who finally signed his entry-level contract with the Wild last season. "It was definitely worth the wait."
ST. PAUL—Wild prospect Mason Shaw was well on his way to making a name for himself last season when everything came crashing down. A fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he played well in his first development camp then continued turning heads during the first game at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. It all went downhill during the second game, when Shaw lost his edge on a routine play in the corner. He went down in a heap and after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
ST. PAUL—Dmitry Sokolov is something of a mystery to pretty much everyone within the Wild organization. As pure a goal-scorer as there is in the farm system, fresh off a 50-goal campaign in the Ontario Hockey League, the young Russian also has never fully committed to getting himself into shape. "We aren't quite sure what to think of him," director of player development Brad Bombardir said.
ST. PAUL — A do-over is coming just in time for Tyler Sheehy and the University of Minnesota men's hockey team. After being named Gophers captain for his junior year in 2017-18, Sheehy admits he struggled on the ice, slogging his way to 12 goals and 13 assists. The Gophers did not get into the NCAA tournament, and longtime coach Don Lucia stepped down soon after.
ST. PAUL — Let's just say Filip Johansson still has a lot to learn. Touring the Twin Cities this week for the first time since being drafted No. 24 overall last month, the 18-year-old Wild prospect had a somewhat puzzling assessment of the place he hopes to calm home in the future. "It's very warm," Johansson said with a toothy grin. "I need some time to get used to that." Nobody had the heart to tell the young Swede that it gets much, much colder in this neck of the woods. That's something he'll learn for himself if he accomplishes his goal of reaching the NHL.
ST. PAUL — After a couple of months away from the rink, the Minnesota Wild will get back to work this week when more than 40 players descend upon Xcel Energy Center for development camp. It runs Tuesday, July 10, to the following Sunday, and while it's unlikely any of these players will contribute at the NHL level next season, it's a good chance for them to leave a lasting impression.
ST. PAUL — Nick Seeler can finally start putting down roots in the Twin Cities. Seeler, 25, grew up in Eden Prairie, Minn., and played his final college season in 2015-16 with the Gophers, but he only recently started looking for a place of his own. That's something he can do after signing a three-year, $2.175 million contract with the Minnesota Wild earlier this week. "I'm definitely looking forward to it," Seeler said. "It was pretty special to be able to stick around here."
ST. PAUL — Ahead of Thursday's deadline, Wild players Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba filed for arbitration, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press. This is standard practice for restricted free agents in the NHL and the Wild still can work toward signing both players to long-term deals until a potential arbitration hearing in late July or early August.
ST. PAUL — At 37, Matt Hendricks knows his days in the NHL are numbered. That means time has long been running out for the 12-year veteran to lace up the skates for the hometown team. Originally from Blaine, Minn., Hendricks grew up cheering for the North Stars before the franchise relocated to Dallas, and he was just starting college at St. Cloud State when the Wild came to town. So to finally get the chance to play in the Twin Cities after signing a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Wild on Sunday afternoon, Hendricks is ecstatic to say the least.
ST. PAUL — After promising to "tweak" the roster at his introductory news conference on May 21, Wild general manager Paul Fenton delivered Sunday morning, July 1, signing five unrestricted free agents. Although none of the moves was flashy on the surface, they do help the Wild fill a handful of needs heading into next season. "In the free-agent market, I'd say we're done," Fenton said. "It was (about) solidifying our lineup so we know where we are, and then we'll have a competition to see what else is going to be available."