The Minnesota Wild don’t seem to mind taking Badgers in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
At least its a slight trend over the past decade.
Minnesota selected Wisconsin center Charlie Stramel at No. 21, seven years after the Wild took then-Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin at No. 15 overall. Kunin was traded to Nashville in October 2020.
Stramel, a Rosemount native, turned out to be the first of three centers that Minnesota drafted over the two days of the event, which wrapped up on Thursday. He also was one of three home-state selections for the franchise as the Wild picked Hermantown native Aaron Pionk and forward James Clark, of Edina, at No. 149 and 213, respectively.
The trio are the first Minnesota natives to be selected by the Wild since defenseman Jack Peart of Grand Rapids was in 2021 (Grand Rapids)., and Nos. 16-19 taken in franchise history.
“Yeah, obviously thrilled,” Stramel said during a media availability session after he was drafted Wednesday night. “No better feeling than getting picked by the hometown team. I always hoped that the Wild would pick me, it was always in the back of my head for sure. To see that dream come true is a blessing for sure.”
The Wild’s need for effective centers has been well-documented over the years, and the franchise first three picks were for that position.
Minnesota grabbed Rasmus Kumpulainen, of Lanti, Finland; and Riley Heidt, of Saskatoon, Canada, in the second round, at No. 53 and No. 64, respectively.
Stramel was the top selection of that trio and had five goals and 12 points in 33 goals during his freshman season at Wisconsin. He moved on to Madison, Wisconsin, from the United States National Development team.
He was thought to be a player the Wild might consider at No. 21 heading into the draft.
“Charlie is a heavy, strong staking, physical two-way center,” Judd Brackett, the Wild’s director of amateur scouting, said in a release after the selection. “We are very excited to add him to our organization.”