The Wild have a history of rushing its younger players to the NHL and I think it has really hurt them from a development standpoint. Sure, Marian Gaborik, Brent Burns and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are all examples of young players succeeding at an early stage, but in recent years it has clearly hurt the maturation and development of James Sheppard and Colton Gilles.
Gilles should have spent this entire season in AHL Houston. There he would've gotten a chance to play EVERY DAY and play big minutes every game. He would've had a chance to be a leader on that team, to skate on the first line, the power play unit and enhance his much-needed grit. But instead he's here, playing every third or fourth game, only about 12 minutes a night on the checking line. Can anyone honestly say that Colton Gilles has advanced significantly this season?
Sheppard has also taken a step back in 2008-09. After a pretty good rookie season I expected him to become this team's second line center. Nope. Only 5 goals in 75 games. Shep should've been in Houston last year and maybe in St. Paul now.
All this comes back to Risebrough. Because of years of inadequate drafts, the cupboard is bare. Sheppard and Gilles should be the highly-touted prospects in Houston, not struggling to find minutes here but they have to be here. They have to be here because players like Brian Rolston, Todd White and Willie Mitchell are not here.
Update 3-30-09: I stand corrected; Shep and Gilles couldn't have been sent to Houston because of minimum age requirements, but could've been returned to juniors. Gilles would've been better served in this manner.