With their first lottery pick since 2012, the Minnesota Wild made a splash Friday night in the NHL Draft by selecting left wing Matt Boldy from the US National Development Team with the 12th overall pick.
Last season with the United States National Development Program, Boldy scored 33 goals and 48 assists. He will be attending Boston College in the fall for at least a year in the NCAA.
The controversy for the Wild was that they passed on highly touted winger Cole Caufield — also of the USNDTP — who seemed to have more dynamic playmaking/goal-scoring abilities. However, general Paul Fenton decided to take Boldy with the pick and let Caufield drop to the Montreal Canadiens at No. 15.
In Boldy, the Wild are getting a big forward — a power forward perhaps — that possesses great offensive skills. Perhaps the most notable quality in Boldy’s game is his shot, which has been highly regarded by draft experts.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic called it “a quality shot.” McKeens Hockey draft guide said Boldy’s was the best in the draft and that his wrist shot is second to none. Accuracy needed some work, but the power and release are incredible.
Boldy also has great playmaking abilities — which can be seen in the highlights above — but his bread and butter appear to be his shot. And the Wild — whether it is the 2019-20 or 2022-23 season — need a player who can come in with a great shot.
Caufield was a home run swing, but Boldy is just as well. It was Caufield’s size (5-foot-7) that probably scared the Wild off, while Boldy comes in at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds.
Pronman — a highly regarded prospect analyst — had kind things to say about Boldy and said he could even come in ahead of Kirill Kaprizov in the Wild prospect charts. McKeens said he could be a 30-plus goal scorer and potential All-Star in the league. Even Boldy’s US Development team coach John Wroblewski said he was a steal for the Wild who had the potential to go higher in this draft.
However, the knock on Boldy appears to be his compete level, which the Wild hope to have ironed out before he hits the NHL. There was times this past season where his play was not up to par simply from a compete level, but once he amped it up he brought a different element to the games he was playing in.
Earlier on Friday, it was discussed that the Wild need to not take the conservative pick, which some argue they may have done with Boldy. However, Boldy fits the mold of the high ceiling caliber player that the team has lacked in drafting in, well, just about the entirety of their existence.
Could this pick turn out to be a dud? Absolutely. They all can. Nothing is guaranteed. But the Wild and Fenton seemingly took a big cut by selecting Boldy. Fenton went with a player who has a good shot, something he valued in trades this past season — i.e. Kevin Fiala — so this is at least a trend that should encourage Wild fans.
If the first thing said about his player is how great his shot is and not how his two-way game is great, then that is a big improvement for the Wild. The back end of the Chuck Fletcher era was littered with players whose game was more molded around playing a two-way game instead of having more offensive capabilities which is what this team needs moving forward.
Boldy might not be the popular pick given the Wild passed on Caufield to do so. But down the road, this could be a pick that the Wild will come back to love and say it was one of their better ones in recent memory. Only time will tell now.