The Minnesota Wild may not have a lot of picks, but that might not be much of an issue if they draft the right players. Their fourth round pick (105th overall) offers a chance to pick up a solid prospect that could prove more valuable in the long-run than any 1st round pick.
With the Stanley Cup Finals now completely in the review mirror of the NHL, the collective attention of the league is squarely moving to the Entry Draft on the 24th in Buffalo. The Minnesota Wild have had their gaze on the draft since their exit from the playoffs on April 24th. As we all are very aware the Wild are short a few spots in the draft due to picks being dealt in the trade market. Right now the Wild will only be picking four times once in the first round, once in the fourth round, and twice in the seventh round.
Right now it seems as if the Wild will not make a major moves to get any draft picks back. With other priorities and a need to win now it seems that what you see right now from the Wild pick wise is what you will get. This is going to leave such a small margin for error with each pick, so the front office will have to do their homework.
That means that every pick no matter the round will be important. The Wild’s first round selection should be the easiest, as they will have an abundance of talent to choose from. Their later round selections will be harder to make as the players at that level will not stand out, but their value can be great as in many cases they are more successful than their first round counterparts.
In the fourth round the Wild have a huge chance to cash in on some value players that could develop into great NHL talent. Here’s a list of possibilities that standout for the Wild to take with the 105th overall pick.
Jack Kopacka, LW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): Kopacka is a rapidly developing forward who is coming off a breakout season for the Greyhounds. He’s described as having good speed and puck control that has translated into a successful first full campaign in the OHL. Last season the Michigan native did a very good job of putting the puck in the net scoring 20 goals in 67 games played. Expect that goal total to rise again this upcoming season.
Adam Brooks, C, Regina Pats (WHL): Brooks is a player that has been draft eligible for some time. Passed over on his first two looks, it looks as if the Winnipeg native will be able to finally break through. It’s hard to ignore that he tallied 120 points (38 goals and 82 assists) last season in his fourth season for the Pats. Many still question him because of his 5’10’’frame, but hard to ignore that Brooks has an awesome scoring touch.
Patrick Bajkov, LW/RW, Everett Silvertips (WHL): Bajkov is a skilled scorer with potential to make impact on the power play which is something Wild need for years to come. In three years with the Silvertips, he has tallied 50 goals and 60 assists. He’s been described a winger who creates his own chances with great hands and speed through the offensive zone.
Griffin Luce, D, US National Development Team: If the Wild go offense in the first round they might need to stock up on Defense in the fourth round. Luce comes from a solid hockey linage (grandson of Don Luce) and brings with him incredible size at 6’3’’ 214lbs. He’s a pure defender/shutdown player that has been described as having a strong first pass. That could be huge for a Wild team that could benefit from 1-2 more sizable pure defense defensemen in their system. He’ll have a chance to further maturate in the NCAA next season as he’s committed to play for the University of Michigan starting in the fall.
It’s hard to be excited about later round picks, but looking at these players’ profiles you can see where this the part of the draft where doing your homework can pay off. All of these choices above offer the Wild a chance to infuse some talent into their system at a relatively low risk. While none of them seem like a sure NHL success now, they all have a solid chance to grow into that label. Only time will tell if they do grow to that label.