Drafting Skills: Minnesota Wild

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Minnesota Wild

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jonas Brodin (D) 10th overall – Brodin is a curious case for me, as early on in his career he looked stellar, while the last season or two I haven’t noticed him much at all. I dug into his possession numbers (hockey-reference.com), and he has bounced back and forth in terms of Corsi in the past few seasons. That’s not what you want out of a top 10 pick. His ice-time decreased for the third consecutive season, despite playing relatively the same number of games. From the 2013-2014 season until this past season, his average ice-time at 5-on-5 dropped by nearly 4 minutes per game. That’s a massive drop for a player of only 23 years old. Not a good sign for the future.

Round 1 – Zack Phillips (C) 28th overall – The Wild traded Brent Burns plus a 2nd round pick in 2012 (flipped), for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and this pick. Coyle has been great for the Wild, but the rest has been awful. Setoguchi was traded after one year and has fallen essentially out of the NHL since. Burns has been one of the best d-men in the whole league the last 2 years, but let’s get back to the pick… huge bust. Phillips never played a game, and now plays in Switzerland. Absolute miss here, with the chance to add a much better piece.

Round 2 – Mario Lucia (F) 60th overall – Lucia played his first full pro-season this year, 5 years after being drafted. He scored 22 points in 44 AHL games, which isn’t awful, but not good enough for a 23 year old. I can’t imagine he will improve enough to make the jump to the NHL at any point in the near future. He had good numbers coming out of Notre Dame, so there is hope he can grow, but he’s definitely taken the long route to try and get there.

Round 3 – Pick was traded for the 2nd round pick they used on Mario Lucia, along with another pick to move up in the draft.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Matthew Dumba (D) 7th overall – I’m a big fan of Dumba, he plays a great two-way game, very mobile puck-moving defender who plays a mean game when needed. He had a career best 34 points in 76 games this year, and is 1 goal shy of the most by a defenceman out of the 2012 draft despite playing 40 less games than Jacob Trouba. This was a great pick by Minnesota, as Dumba has been a fixture in their top-4 for the past few seasons.

Round 2 – Raphael Bussieres (LW) 46th overall – Bussieres is a big bust for the Wild, as he’s currently playing in Austria, after playing the majority of the two prior years in the ECHL. He’s not even putting up great numbers in Austria, with 34 points in 48 games. We will likely not see Bussieres again in North American hockey.

Round 3 – John Draeger (D) 68th overall – Draeger just finished his 4th year at Michigan State, with 8 points in 37 games and a -16 rating. Neither of those are promising numbers. Minnesota sports one of the best defense corps in today’s NHL, so Draeger will report to either the AHL or ECHL and hope to grow his game if he still dreams of ever making the jump.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded to Buffalo with others for Jason Pominville. The pick ended up as Nikita Zadorov (28 points in 145 NHL games), while Pominville has been a consistent performer for the Wild since coming over by trade. Solid trade by the Wild, getting themselves a top-6 winger for 16th overall plus other picks.

Round 2 – Gustav Olofsson (D) 46th overall – Olofsson has played in 15 NHL games since being drafted, and appears to be next in line for a spot with the big club when someone leaves – which is likely with the expansion draft looming. He’s improved each year since being drafted, and should slot into the third pairing as early as next season. Good find in the middle of the 2nd round here by Minnesota.

Round 3 – Kurtis Gabriel (RW) 81st overall – Gabriel was another call-up by the Wild when injuries occurred. He’s no offensive threat, but the Wild are hoping he can provide stability in a defensive role in their bottom-6. He could slot in next season, depending on who else comes in fighting for a spot, as he really provides only a defensive upside. He will have a hard-time being an NHL mainstay.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Alex Tuch (RW) 18th overall – Tuch hasn’t grown nearly as much as I thought he would, as he made his NHL debut late this year, but put up zero points in 6 games. In 57 AHL games he managed only 37 points. While he’s not the worst pick from that first round, the Wild were surely hoping he would make an impact earlier than this. He will get another shot to make the team out of camp next year, but the Wild boast a few other prospects who will be fighting along with him to get a spot.

Round 2 – Part of the package with 2013 1st rounded for Pominville. This pick hasn’t amounted to anything substantial by any means.

Round 3 – Louis Belpedio (D) 80th overall – Belpedio finished his third college season with 17 points in 24 games. Those are good numbers for the young blueliner, but he’s playing in the NCHC, and not the NCAA so it’s hard to really judge those numbers as being as good as they look. He’s a smaller d-man at under 6 feet tall, something which the Wild have a couple similar players already. He’ll have time to grow his game, and looks like he’ll need it.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Joel Eriksson-Ek (C) 20th overall – Eriksson-Ek possesses high-level playmaking ability, and looks to be a surefire top-6 player next year for the Wild. He played the majority of this season in the Swedish Elite League, and put up a respectable 16 points in 28 games. In 15 NHL games, he’s scored 7 points. The Wild are justifiably excited about Eriksson-Ek, and he looks like a great pick at 20 overall.

Round 2 – Jordan Greenway (LW) 50th overall – Greenway is another great pick by the Wild, as the big power-forward had a great year, that was highlighted at the World Junior tournament where he stood out on the gold medal winning USA team.in 37 games at Boston University, Greenway put up 31 points. He’s going to be a force in the NHL, with a great combination of size, grit and skill. Look for him to start the year in the AHL, but make the jump sooner than later.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Arizona for Devan Dubnyk. HA! Can you imagine making this trade now? Can you imagine how Arizona feels looking back at this?

The Wild have made some great selections through these drafts, especially in the past couple of years. They’re rarely missed on their picks (save Zack Phillips), and have found a lot of core pieces they can build around for years to come.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm

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