April 18, 2024

Stramel has a ‘fantastic’ opportunity for the future with the hometown Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Charlie Strammel He had long dreamed of hearing his name called at the NHL Draft. The cherry on top of a dream come true? Hear it at your hometown team.

Stramel, a native of Rosemount, Minnesota, was able to check every item off his bucket list when he was selected by the Minnesota Wild with the No. 1 pick. 21 in the 2023 NHL Draft. The 18-year-old center prospect attended his first professional development camp earlier this month, an easy drive from his home in the Twin Cities suburbs.

“I mean, it’s just awesome,” Stramel said. “Development camp, getting here and meeting the staff, it’s all starting to settle in for sure.

It was Stramel’s 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame that attracted the Wild after his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin. He was one of three Minnesota heavy centers selected with his first three picks, as well as Rasmus Twins (6-2, 191) in the second round (No. 53) and Riley Heidt (5-10, 178), also in the second round (No. 64).

“Charlie, when he is on the ice, I try to stay out of the way. That would hurt,” joked Wild head of player development Brad Bombardir. “Just his size and his mobility and his ability with speed he can generate straight forward.

“We would love to see him play, and use that size and get the puck on his stick as fast as he can.”

With size and strength comes stride work. While he used his stature to help him into a bottom-six role with the United States that won a bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, there was a learning curve when Stramel reached the NCAA Division I ranks.

“I think the maturity was very difficult in the transition for me,” he said. “Puck management-wise, what to do with it. The risks you can take in certain areas, the risks you can’t take. I think it was a big one that I had to get over a hump this year at the college level with much older and more mature guys.”

Stramel was able to get plenty of ice time as a freshman with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) and 21 penalties and 59 penalty minutes in 33 games with Wisconsin, which finished 13-23 last season.

Former Minnesota State men’s coach Mike Hastings was hired to take over at Wisconsin after Tony Granato was fired in March after two losing seasons.

“Overall, a frustrating season last year,” Stramel said. “You can see things changing at Wisconsin. There are great guys coming in, great transfers and back. The team has been great so far. I’m pumped. I know the guys in the locker room are pumped to bring Wisconsin hockey back to what it was.”

Added Bombardir: “One of our scouts said they felt he had a strong book on him, not just from watching this season. So they’ve been watching him for several years. I think there’s a lot of different reasons he could have an off year, but we’re not too worried about that.

“I think for him, it’s just about, ‘What is your game? How do you build your game on a nightly basis? And how do you see yourself as an impact player, and if we can build that with him?’ Because he’s got all these different abilities where he’s played, and trying to put it together, but how do we build a foundation every night and know what you have to do to be successful? That’s going to be our biggest message for him this year.”

Stramel said he’s eager to continue his growth during his sophomore season at Wisconsin, which he hopes will one day lead to a professional career at home.

“It’s awesome to even think about the possibility of playing for the Wild,” Stramel said. “It’s just awesome. There’s no other way to say it.”

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