Minnesota Wild: Should the Wild Draft a Defenseman in the First Round?


The NHL Draft is only a little over two weeks away, and the Minnesota Wild will need to have their draft plan ready soon.  With the Wild looking for forward help many think the they could draft a forward with their 1st round pick, but is that the right call or is drafting a defenseman a better use of the pick?

Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has made it clear that his team is in the market to acquire one to two forwards this offseason.  The Wild finally have the resources salary cap wise to make a move in free-agency or via a trade to get the forward help they need.  The conventional wisdom is that if a trade is executed that the Wild will look to draw from its deep and talented pool of defensemen to get a deal completed for a top nine forward.

With the draft only a few short weeks away many have pointed to it as an additional outlet for the Wild to acquire a forward.  The Wild may not have a lot of picks in this year’s draft, but they do still have a first round pick the 15th overall.  Since it is one of only four draft picks the Wild currently have, it will be very important for the Wild to get the best value from it.

Still when taking a step back one question comes up, do the Wild necessarily have to pick a forward with their first round pick?  Draft picks in the NHL are rarely an instant impact as many of the players taken need much more seasoning to reach the NHL.  In some cases, those draft picks never even see a game in the NHL.

With the Wild possibly loosing depth at defense to pay the bill for instant forward help, does it not make sense to possibly draft a defenseman?  The loss of one of the regular Wild defensemen will force Mike Reilly to be up full-time in Minnesota and leave Gustav Olofssson as the only young blue-chip defense prospect in Iowa.

The Wild have used their last two first round picks on forwards Alex Tuch and Joel Eriksson-Ek.  In addition to that, they are expecting recently signed talented young forwards Mario Lucia and Sam Anas to be up with Iowa next season.  So it seems that the Wild have a good pool of great future forwards for now, and so it might not make sense to draft another high level talent when the defense might need the restock.

When a team drafts they need to draft for the future and not the presence.  Unless the Wild were able to pick a Connor McDavid type talent, they shouldn’t be looking at the draft to impact the current roster NHL.  So looking at the current depth chart, and the fact that offseason roster moves will change that depth chart, the Wild should be using the draft to offset those changes as best they can.

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Picking a defenseman with their first round pick offers the Wild the best way to re-stock their defense at the best value.  If the Wild had more picks in they could be less discriminatory on the position of their first round pick, but when your next pick isn’t till round four your decision needs to be that much more deliberate.  The defense may not need a lot of help right now, but if the Wild can add to that defense with a solid 1st round pick they’ll ensure the defense won’t need a lot of help anytime in the near future.