Jul. 24—This year's Minnesota Mr. Hockey winner, Jack Peart, is staying home.
After deepening their prospect pool on Friday night with two picks in the first round, the Wild selected Peart in the second round on Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old defenseman from Grand Rapids is expected to play at St. Cloud State next season.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play for the Minnesota Wild, for sure," said Peart, who grew up going to Wild games at Xcel Energy Center. "That's the NHL team I watched growing up. Just for me to get drafted by them and have a chance to play for them has been really special."
Watching from Plymouth, Mich., ahead of the World Junior Summer Showcase this week, Peart was surrounded by his family when he heard his name called.
"You kind of black out when it happens," Peart said. "It didn't feel real, honestly. To be there with my family and all the sacrifices they have done for me, it's really cool that it's paying off."
This is a high upside pick as Peart is fresh off an impressive campaign for Grand Rapids High School last season in which he scored 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) across 18 games. He also appeared in 24 regular-season games for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League during 2020-21 season, scoring 15 points (1 goal, 14 assists).
Though it could be a while before Peart makes it to the NHL, he's an agile skater who is very elusive with the puck. He's also described as having a good hockey sense and advanced understanding of the game for his age.
Not surprisingly, the undersized 5-foot-11 Peart tries to fashion his game after Wild captain Jared Spurgeon. It's safe to say if Peart turns out like Spurgeon, the Wild would be just fine with that.
"I'm a two-way defenseman," Peart said. "I like to break pucks out and play in the offensive zone. At the same time, I can play in the defensive zone and close gaps and box guys out."
If Peart makes it to the NHL in the future, he would join Buffalo Sabres winger Casey Mittelstadt, Wild winger Nick Bjugstad, New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh as active players who have been named Minnesota Mr. Hockey before making it to the league.
"This whole year has been really cool for me," Peart said. "There's been a lot of great experiences that have definitely helped me in my hockey career. This is another one that is hopefully going to help."