Is Terik Parascak’s relationship with Riley Heidt sustainable for the Wild?

Terik Parascak is not a guy to be taken lightly; as a 17-year-old, he scored 43 goals and 105 points in the WHL. Nevertheless, given that he plays for the Prince George Cougars with 2023 second-round pick Riley Heidt, you can guarantee that the Minnesota Wild have had a very careful look at the wing prospect.

This past season, Heidt emerged as the Wild system’s breakthrough prospect, placing third in the WHL with 117 points (37 goals) in 66 games. The scouts from Minnesota would frequently watch Parascak’s game when they checked in on Heidt, generally during the same scoring play.

Parascak potted 49 goals for Prince George between the regular season and playoffs. Heidt assisted on 22 of them or around 45%. Heidt also factored on 26 of Parascak’s 70 total assists, which includes Parascak getting the helper on six of Heidt’s goals. As crucial cogs in Prince George’s lethal power play (which led the WHL with 84 goals), the Parascak-Heidt connection was strong.

Will the Wild be tempted to keep that duo together?

Unless there is a magical degree of chemistry, like the Vancouver Canucks had with Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the 1999 Draft, draft decisions usually shouldn’t be influenced by chemistry. It seems premature to tie one prospect to another before they have even made it to the AHL because these two aren’t the Sedins. Even in the NHL, lines and combinations are always changing.

So, whether Heidt stays with the team or not, the question is whether the Wild should desire Parascak. Scouts in Minnesota will probably be swooning over Parascak since he has a lot of qualities they look for.

It should be noted that head of scouting Judd Brackett has stated publicly that “you can’t live without” hockey sense. Hearing that, though, doesn’t precisely clarify what Brackett is searching for. Last week, when pressed for details, he pulled back the curtain to reveal to us what goes through a scout’s mind while attempting to understand a player’s mindset.

Parascak bases every aspect of his strategy on his intelligence, just as Brackett explains. According to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic’s Draft Rankings, “He routinely gets to the right spots at the right time to bang home rebounds, tap in backdoor passes, or get out in transition to give his D a stretch option on outlets.” “He instigates offensive events. He appears to be around opportunities all the time.”

When Parascak finds and exploits those weak points, you see the guy who scored over fifty goals in the previous campaign. “His in-close game is described by Elite Prospects as follows: ‘He beats goalies across the crease with one-timers and fires back towards their push-off side with catch-and-release wristers.” “Just as opponents dive in front of the shot, he slips the puck across the slot for an even better look.”

And once again, let’s not forget that hockey sense. “No matter which choice he makes, it’s usually the best one,” EP’s Draft Guide continues.

So how does an extremely smart player scoring 100-plus points in the WHL as a true 17-year-old (he didn’t turn 18 until May) end up someone who could potentially fall to the second round? His detractors point to his feet, with many scouts concerned about his skating. “He has a heavy stride that lacks any kind of NHL footspeed,” says Corey Pronman, who ranks him 37th in the class.

Some people also think that because he was on the power play with Heidt, Zac Funk (who led the league in WHL scoring previous season with 123), and Ondrej Becher (96 points), his stats were exaggerated. “The NHL scout who is not named will be thrilled with this player,” the unnamed source informed Elite Prospects. “I’m telling you right now that the numbers don’t tell any of the story here.”
One more adds emphatically, “He’s a pure passenger.”

But you may be a huge admirer of Parascak’s game if you enjoy his skating and think he’s smart. Just ask Craig Button of TSN, who gave him a ranking of 13th (where the Wild are positioned!). “He’s not just a one-trick pony; he kills penalties and performs at a very high level even while playing at even strength. Button exclaims in his draft profile on Parascak, “He may not be a player who overwhelms you with this flash in his game, but he’s got real significant ability.”

Although it seems strange to label a player as a boom-or-bust prospect who lacks exceptional skating, a lightning-fast shot, or enormous stature, that may very well be the case. Whether his hockey knowledge will aid him when he breaks into the pro ranks is the bet. “If the team that drafts Parascak is lucky, he’s a true outlier and could become the next Joe Pavelski,” McKeen’s Hockey writes. Following that, they state, “If they’re unlucky, he tops out as a good, longtime AHL player.”

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