The Minnesota Wild are approaching their Twentieth Season in the NHL. Looking back, who are the five best First-Round Picks in Franchise History?
It’s pretty obvious where Marián Gáborik would rank, as he is arguably the only legitimate superstar the Minnesota Wild have ever had so, I’ve decided to leave him off this list, and create the best top five first-round picks in Wild history.
Since this list is the best first-round selections by the Wild in franchise history, it was pretty hard to limit it just to a top five. I have added two honorable mentions who could very well enter the top five in a couple of years.
Honorable Mention #1 Matt Dumba (D) 7th overall, 2012
You could very well make a case for Matt Dumba to be on this list, but for me as much as I love his play, this past season provides enough to keep him off the list. If Dumba can revert to his old self before his injury, he 100% could slide in the top 5.
Honorable Mention #2 Luke Kunin (C/RW) 15th overall, 2016
Kunin had a very strong season in terms of progression. The 22-year-old recorded career highs in goals(15), assists(16), and points(31) in 63 games played. In his top-nine role, he also added some grit and leadership, he stood up for himself and his teammates with 3 fights this year. If Kunin keeps his offense progressing in the right direction, I believe in his prime years he could score 25-30 goals and make the top 5 list.
#5 Brent Burns (D) 20th overall, 2003
More from Gone Puck Wild
Burns was the fourth first-round selection the franchise ever had, (hint the other three are also on this list). Burns played seven seasons with the Wild where he recorded 55 goals, 128 assists, and 183 points in 453 games played. After being traded to the Sharks, he almost tripled his production where he netted 155 goals, 356 assists, and 511 points in 660 games.
Burns turned out to be the guy Wild fans and GM Chuck Fletcher dreamed of. The Wild sent a 2012 2nd round pick (Which turned out to be Pontus Aberg) and (D) Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and a 2011 first-round draft pick, which we used to draft Zach Phillips, who in no offense, could barely skate. It wasn’t Fletcher’s worst trade ever but it likely ranks second.
#4 Pierre-Marc Bouchard (C) 8th overall, 2002
Wild fans may remember Bouchard as the “Spin-O-Rama-guy” because it was his go-to shootout move and it worked. Before entering his prime years he was plagued with concussion problems and truly was never the same after.
In my eyes, Pierre-Marc Bouchard might be the biggest “what if’s” in Wild history. In his first 6 seasons with the Wild Bouchard recorded 77 goals, 190 assists, and 267 points in 425 games. Those are some promising numbers entering his prime years, but unfortunately, he had too many concussions and injuries and resulted in him only being able to play a 50+ game season one time, in his remaining 5 years. After the Wild let him go Bouchard was signed as a free agent by the Islanders where he only managed to play in 28 games before being forced to retire.
#3 Mikael Granlund (C) 9th overall, 2010
I think I speak for all Wild fans when I say Granlund was a fan favorite and is deserving of that. Granlund came up huge for us in many big games. We all remember his goal the then 22-year-old scored in OT propelling the Wild past the Avs in Game 3 of the 2014 first round of the playoffs.
Granlund played 7 seasons with the Wild where he recorded 93 goals (10th in Wild history), 224 assists (4th in Wild history), and 317 points(7th in Wild history) in 461 games played. Granlund is 9th in Wild history with 18 Game-winning goals and tied for 4th with Mikko Koivu in Assists per game with .49
Many fans and I were sad to see Granlund get traded, but I don’t think many will argue with the return we got, Superstar Kevin Fiala.
#2 Jonas Brodin (D) 10th overall, 2011
Many of you may be surprised by this, but let me break it down for you. Usually, a 10th overall selection takes some time to develop or at least take some time to get used to playing in the National Hockey League, but not Jonas Brodin. His first season he played in he was 19. Former Wild head coach Mike Yeo wasted no time and played him in a top 4 role almost instantly.
In his first season, Brodin averaged 23 minutes a night, and that is where it all started. Although Brodin doesn’t rank in the top 10 in Wild history for offensive categories, his defense is what makes him number 2 on my list. Now making a name for himself as one of the top defenders in the game, if not the best defensive defenseman in all of the NHL today. Coming across this kind of guy in a draft is considered a gem, and that certainly fits Brodin well.
#1 Mikko Koivu (C) 6th overall, 2001
Yes, I know its not Marian Gaborik. Gaborik is number one on the list so I thought I’d leave him off just to allow more players to be on here.
Mikko has been the Wild’s captain for 11 seasons and the only permanent captain in Minnesota Wild franchise history. I know Koivu’s game has been on the decline recently, but his leadership and dedication to the game has never been questioned or even thought of as declining, especially inside the organization.
Koivu’s fifteen-year career makes him the current Wild all-time leader in games played (1,028), points (709), assists (504), plus/minus (+70), and shots (2,270), and is second in all-time goals (205) and power-play goals (60). Koivu was an All-star, Selke finalist, NHL captain, and a model player during his 15-year career. Koivu was also the main reason some fans like myself started watching the game. With all his efforts to the game and the Wild organization, this is why he’s number one on my list.
All stats and leaders courtesy of Hockey-Reference
What would you change about my list? Who would be on your top 5 first-round picks list?