The Minnesota Wild selected six players during the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday and Thursday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn, including five players in rounds two through seven today. Minnesota selected four forwards and two defensemen, including two Canadians, one Finn and three Americans, all of which are Minnesota natives. The 2023 NHL Draft marks the first time in franchise history the Wild has selected three or more Minnesota natives in a single draft.
On Wednesday evening, Minnesota selected center Charlie Stramel with the 21st overall selection in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft. Stramel, 18 (10/15/04), totaled 12 points (5-7=12) and 59 penalty minutes (PIM) in 33 games during his first season of collegiate hockey at the University of Wisconsin in 2022-23. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Rosemount, Minn., also won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, tallying three assists in seven games. He won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2022 IIHF Under-18 World Junior Championship, recording five points (2-3=5) in six games. Stramel recorded 37 points (17-20=37) and 60 PIM in a total of 42 games with the United States National Team Development Program in 2021-22. He tallied four points (2-2=4) in five games for Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Under-18 Championship. Stramel played for Rosemount High School as a freshman in 2019-20 before joining the United States National Team Development Program for the 2020-21 season.
“Charlie is a heavy, strong skating, physical two-way center,” said Judd Brackett, Minnesota Wild Director of Amateur Scouting. “We are very excited to add him to our organization.”
The Wild began Thursday by selecting center Rasmus Kumpulainen with the 53rd overall selection in the second round. Kumpulainen, 17 (8/8/05), played in 41 games for the Lahden Pelicans Junior Team (Finland) during the 2022-23 season, recording 34 points (11-23=34), fifth-most among team skaters, and 26 PIM. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound native of Lahti, Finland, represented Finland at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, where he posted five points (3-2=5), two PIM and a plus-five rating in five games. In 2021-22, Kumpulainen skated in 43 games for the Pelicans Junior Team, totaling 17 points (8-9=17) and two PIM, after appearing in 27 games in 2020-21 for the Pelicans Under-18 Team and recording 20 points (6-14=20). Kumpulainen is the 11th Finnish player to be selected by the Wild in the NHL Draft and first since goaltender Filip Lindberg in 2019 (Espoo).
“Rasmus is a big, two-way, possession center with excellent puck protection skill,” said Brackett.
Minnesota selected center Riley Heidt in the second round (64th overall). Heidt, 18 (3/15/2005), played in 68 games for Prince George of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2022-23, recording 97 points (25-72=97) and 36 PIM. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, led the Cougars in assists and ranked second in points on his way to earning second-team All-Star honors in the WHL’s British Columbia division. Heidt also represented Canada at the 2023 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, logging two assists in five games played. Heidt tallied 58 points (21-37=58) and 51 PIM in 65 game appearances for Prince George in 2021-22 after posting eight points (2-6=8) and 12 PIM in 22 games for the Cougars in 2020-21.
“Riley is a slick, playmaking center with elite vision and hands,” said Brackett.
Minnesota selected defenseman Aaron Pionk in the fifth round (149th overall). Pionk, 20 (1/16/03), collected 36 points (12-24=36) and 51 PIM in 60 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL last season. The 6-foot-1, 173-pound native of Hermantown, Minn., ranked tied for fourth among USHL defensemen in goals. He ranked tied for fifth on the team in assists and tied for sixth in scoring. Pionk recorded 28 points (9-19=28) and 14 PIM in 51 games with the Minnesota Wilderness in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in 2021-22. He tallied 40 points (15-25=40) in 20 games for Hermantown High School in 2020-21.
“Aaron was recently converted to defense,” said Brackett. “He is a smart, puck mover with an accurate shot.”
The Wild selected defenseman Kalem Parker in the sixth round (181st overall). Parker, 18 (10/12/04), tallied 38 points (6-32=38) and 64 PIM in 68 games with the Victoria Royals in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2022-23. The 6-foot, 192-pound native of Saskatoon, Sask., ranked tied for second on the team in assists and tied for third in scoring. He collected 20 points (2-18=20) and 70 PIM in 66 games with Victoria in 2021-22. Parker also tallied one goal in three games for Canada at the 2022 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
“Kalem is a two-way, all situations defender with good mobility,” said Brackett.
Minnesota selected forward Jimmy Clark in the seventh round (213th overall). Clark, 18 (9/24/04), recorded 47 points (19-28=47) and 27 PIM in 62 games with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL last season. The 6-foot, 179-pound native of Edina, Minn., led the Gamblers with a plus-11 rating, ranked third in scoring and tied for third in goals and assists. He collected 38 points (15-23=38) in 31 games for Edina High School and three assists in 13 games for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL in 2021-22. Clark also played the United States Under-18 team at the 2021 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, recording two points (1-1=2) in four games.
“Jimmy is a high-energy, two-way center with a heavy shot,” said Brackett.
(info courtesy of Wild)