The Minnesota Wild, for right now, are preparing for a draft in which, for the first time in franchise history, they do not hold a first round selection. Their first round pick was forfeited to the Buffalo Sabres along with a 2014 second rounder and two top prospects in the trade that brought former Sabres captain Jason Pominville into the Wild fold. That doesn’t seem to change Wild GM Chuck Fletcher’s approach when it comes to the 2013 Draft Combine.
“You’re always preparing because you never know what can happen between now and the draft,” said Fletcher. “Whether you make trades and maybe acquire an extra pick. Maybe you can package some picks and move up in the draft. We haven’t focused on the top end of the draft as much, because realistically we’re not going to pay to the price to get into that level. We’re interviewing a lot of guys, as many as normal, and it’s also a draft, too, with the depth of this draft, I think there’s going to be a lot of variation on everyone’s list between 15 and 40. And we expect at 46 to be looking at a player we have significantly higher than that on our list.”
While he isn’t sure the team will make a move up the draft board, it has been something up for discussion.
“We have two third-round picks and that’s what we’re talking about today,” said the Wild GM about potential trades. “You never know until the draft starts. Do you take a chance and keep your picks and get as many assets as you can? Or is this the year where you look to move some extra picks and try moving up into the late first or earlier in the second? I think at 46 we’re certainly going to be looking at a player we’ll be very happy with.”
A decrease in the salary cap could make draft day very interesting for all involved. That could certainly be to Fletcher’s advantage.
“I think this year with the cap going from $70 million to [$64.3 million], there’s going to be a lot of teams looking to do different things,” he said. “There’s going to be teams looking to pick up players at affordable prices and teams looking to manage their cap looking to move players. Whether draft picks are a part of that, they certainly can be. I think there will be a lot of activity and certainly a lot of communication.”
In 2011, the year in which Minnesota hosted the NHL Entry Draft, Fletcher made a bold move with San Jose. In the process of acquiring promising young goal scorer Devin Setoguchi, Fletcher also snatched up Charlie Coyle (drafted 28th overall in 2010) and San Jose’s 2011 first round pick, which he would use to acquire an intriguing young offensive forward in Zack Phillips at 28th overall. In return, Minnesota sent 2003 first round pick Brent Burns and a 2012 second round pick.
The trade would turn out to be the icing on the cake as Minnesota fans really didn’t know what they received with the 10th overall selection until Jonas Brodin made his NHL debut this season. The selection of Brodin may very well be one of the best picks in franchise history and the Swedish Sensation has already claimed his place on the top defensive pairing with NHL All-Star Ryan Suter. The two are sure to be competing against each other for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in the not so distant future. Not a bad top pairing for Minnesota.
As Wild fans know, Fletcher and his staff are very good with their first round picks. However, the second round may be their bread and butter, as very talented youngsters like Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson, Brett Bulmer, Mario Lucia and Raphael Bussieres have all come out of round two. Whether Minnesota moves up into the first, higher into the second or adds another second round pick, Wild fans can rest easy knowing it’s sure to be another quality selection. In Fletcher, we trust.