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The Minnesota Wild are having a pretty productive season on the ice, despite their recent losing streak, but the front office is also working at maintaining a solid team in the future. The team took another step toward that on Monday, too, as the team announced that they have signed first round pick Zack Phillips to a three-year entry-level contract.
The Wild don't anticipate him joining the big club anytime soon, though, as he'll continue to play in the minor leagues for at least the rest of this season.
Phillips will remain with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he has exploded offensively this season. Through just 31 games, he's racked up 52 points (18-34=52) and a +30 rating. He is on pace to surpass his eye-popping totals last year when he registered 38 goals and 57 assists in 67 games as Saint John took the prestigious Memorial Cup title. In 17 postseason games, he notched nine goals and 15 assists.
The Wild will likely now focus on signing fellow prospect Mikael Granlund.
After two draft-filled days (and a few to digest), the 2011 NHL Draft will be known as a turning point for the Minnesota Wild. With Minnesota missing the postseason for the third straight season and having the 26th best prospect pool according to Hockey's Future, General Manager Chuck Fletcher decided to trade All-Star defenseman Brent Burns and re-focus on younger talent.
The trade of Burns to San Jose for forward Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and the #28 pick was unexpected but not shocking. Despite it being one day after reiterating his love for the Wild organization, Minnesota has few if any trading chips and Burns is one year from unrestricted free agency. With the Wild being unable to lose Burns for nothing and a deal too good to pass up, Minneota pulled the trigger.
While Burns' departure leaves a gaping hole on defense, the trade gives the Wild some outstanding pieces to build around. Setoguchi, who on Thursday signed a 3 year $9 million contract, is a 25-goal scorer (although a lousy lawyer) who will give Minnesota two solid scoring lines and help center Mikko Koivu out drastically. Coyle was San Jose's top prospect (and the twentieth-best in the NHL) and a power forward who led Boston University's team as a freshman. He is a prospect who along with Mikael Granlund should give the Wild much needed offensive help in the future. Finally Minnesota was able to use the 28th pick to select center Zack Phillips. Phillips put up 38 goals while helping to lead the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Canadian junior hockey championship but is a project who needs to work on skating.
Overshadowed in the Burns trade Friday night was the tenth overall selection of 6'1" Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin. Like many picks in the Chuck Fletcher era, Brodin is a player with upside who finished his season strong; however not a consensus top-ten pick. In fact, TSN analyst Bob McKenzie is the only person who had Brodin in his top ten along with a comparison to Nicklas Lidstrom. Regardless, there are high expectations for Brodin. As a 17 year-old playing for Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League (one of the top leagues in the world) has shown great patience and vision along with fellow Swede Kim Johnsson's ability to complete a breakout pass. He's a safe pick but for Brodin to become a NHL star he is going to have to further develop and work on his offense.
Saturday brought another four prospects into the Wild organization and the big story was the team drafting two Minnesotans. Although Minnesota was without a second round pick due to trading for Chuck Kobasew in 2009, the Wild traded their third and fourth round pick to Vancouver for the #60 pick and drafted Wayzata HS forward Mario Lucia. It was a great pick (despite what others may say) for Minnesota because Lucia is a late first, early second round talent and the Wild need quality prospects regardless of where they were born. The team did the same thing last year trading their third and fourth round pick for a late second with Las Vegas native Jason Zucker and that move has appeared to pay off.
After Lucia, Minnesota drafted Eden Prairie native Nick Seeler with the #131 pick in the fifth round. Seeler, a defenseman headed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, helped lead the Eden Prairie Eagles to the Class 2A hockey title with 9 goals and 34 assists. The Wild used their sixth round pick on goalie Stephan Michalek out of Loomis-Chaffee High School in Connecticut. Michalek was seen as the sixth-best goalie by Central Scouting and is headed to Harvard to play hockey for the Crimson. Minnesota's final pick in the seventh round was spent on Ottawa 67s center Tyler Graovac, who spent time this season injured with a broken forearm. Graovac is a two-way player with a big body and focuses more on faceoffs and being sound defensively than offense.
All in all, it was a good draft for the Wild organization but not one for the NHL team. For an organization with few high-end assets, Minnesota added the equivalent of four first-round picks and wisely chose to focus on younger talent after years of quick fixes. However, the loss of defenseman Brent Burns and the fact that many prospects are one or two years away from helping leave the Wild with holes to fill. It remains to be seen how General Manger Chuck Fletcher can help the NHL team through free agency - he already started by adding Setoguchi and trading a third round pick in 2013 for Philadelphia Flyers forward Darroll Powe - but the road back to the playoffs and the top of NHL appears to get worse before it gets better.
Brodin plays a smart, safe defensive game. His main game is focusing on the transition; making that good first pass and using his mobility to find open areas. While he won’t be an offensive dynamo, he gives the Wild a good solid pick that can fill in a similar role that ex-Wild defenseman filled: Kim Johnsson. Not physical, but smart and mobile.
Hey, if the HW guys like him, I’ll roll with that.
The other stunner was the trading of fan favorite Brent Burns. Burns, one year away from free agency, was rumored to be on the trading block leading up to the draft, and on Friday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher stunned the XCel Energy Arena crowd when the trade was announced.
Minnesota sent Burns and a second round pick to San Jose for RW Devin Setogucji and prospect Charlie Coyle, a kid with a ton of potential that might be the long term steal of this trade. Once again, Hockey Wilderness:
You think Devon Setoguchi was the main part of the trade? I disagree. Charlie Coyle was. He has everything you want. His major concern coming into the 2010-11 season was, can he transtion from the EJHL to the NCAA properly?
Winning HE Rookie of the Year, being named on the HE All-Star tea, winning gold medal with USA and being top 3 players on the USA team, has certainly made some naysayers quiet. He’s big, mobile, and has offensive ability. While we all will miss Brent Burns, Coyle is a great prospect that immediately jumps as our #2 best prospect.
The WIld also picked 28th overall in the first round, and with that selection they chose C Zack Philips. There was talk that the Wild might look at him with the #10 overall pick, so getting him at 28 seems to be great value.
With there being plenty of uncertainty over who the Wild will take with their first round pick, here's a quick dossier of the six likeliest prospects to don an Iron Range Red jersey from experts Daniel Chan of Hockey Wilderness and Dan Shrader of First Round Bust.
(H/T to Jerome Berube of NHLDraftVideo)
Born April 18, 1993...6'1.5" 191 pounds...Right Hand Shot...ranked 2nd in European Skaters, after being 3rd at the Mid-Term...scored 5 goals and 9 points in 26 games with Djurgardens Senior Team...made debut on Senior Team December 7th, 2010...tallied one goal and one assist in 7 games of Eliteserien Postseason play...scored 4 goals and 8 points in 6 games at the U-18 Championships this Spring...Mother is of Finnish Descent, Father is of Iranian Descent...fluent in Swedish, Finnish, and English...signed two year extension with Djurgardens, under contract til 2013...considers his older brother his role model (a center in the English Premier League) and credits him with improving small details in his game, like attacking the offensive zone and faceoffs...a huge riser late in many rankings...can dictate the pace of play on every shift...hard worker...balanced skater...hard to knock off pucks...doesn't possess high end speed, but is fast and will continue to gain speed with more strength...owns a heavy shot and quick release...also capable of setting up teammates...is willing to hit, understands that physical play can be beneficial...can play center and wing...plays with intensity...is responsible in all three zones...saw time on the 2nd PP unit and PK with Djurgardens...needs some fine tuning, like receiving passes and setting up around net but has the work ethic to improve...a solid prospect, but the question is will his offensive game translate to the NHL?
Born December 5, 1992...6'2", 180 lbs....Left hand shot...Ranked ninth overall by Future Considerations, fifth overall in North America by Central Scouting and eighteenth by THN...scored 12 goals and 33 assists in 65 games for Saint John; finishing twelfth amongst defensemen...has a strong shot...won Memorial Cup alongside 2011 draft-eligible players Johnathan Huberdeau and Zack Phillips...excellent two-way play...can transition from defense to offense well but is not a puck rusher; more of a puck mover...was invited to Team Canada's U-20 Development Camp but did not get chosen for the team...outstanding power play quarterback who can find open lanes and man the point...great skater with good mobility...excellent passer at any distance...possesses a heavy and accurate shot that is kept low for tips and redirects...not afraid to drop the gloves and fight...good positioning and use of angles...plays with poise and intelligence...can be a bit cocky and overconfident...got off to a slow start...the mechanics of his shot can be improved upon...has a minor issue with pivoting to his right...some scouts find his lack of high-end production on a powerhouse Saint John team indicative of his upside...his hockey sense is polarizing- some scouts question it and some cite it as a strength...comparable to a player like Ryan Suter or Keith Yandle...ceiling is top-pairing defender and PP quarterback...was drafted by his Father Jacques, who was coaching at Saint John at the time; the elder Beaulieu is now the Head Coach of The Sarnia Sting.
Born 5-31-1993...6'3" 187 pounds...Right Hand Shot...Ranked 4th for European Skaters in Final Central Scouting Rankings after being ranked 2nd at Mid-Term...18 goals, 11 assists, 24 PIM in 28 games for Assat...tallied just one assist at the World Junior Championships, but impressed at the U-18 Championships with four goals and 13 points in just 6 games...possesses great hands and goal scoring instincts, along with NHL compatible frame...wants the puck on his stick; literally said in an interview "I want the puck"...is fantastic with competing for the puck and with it on his stick...among a handful of the most pure goal scorers in this year's draft class...sees the ice well and makes good decisions distributing the puck...can create scoring chances and shots for himself...excels when given time and space, but also capable of operating in tighter checking situations...can be dominant along the walls in the corner, using his natural size to his advantage...has nose for net...will become a dangerous offensive threat when filled out but still physically immature...due to lack of physical strength is knocked off the puck easily because of high center of gravity...a one-dimensional player at this stage of his development...still raw, especially in terms of defensive zone responsibilities...can take himself out of position...slow to cover for others- i.e. a pinching defenseman...can act indifferent, if not lazy, at times during games...Armia possesses all the tools and the upside, but is still raw and will need alot of coaching, especially in respect to the defensive side of the game.
Born October 5, 1992...5'10", 181 pounds...Left Hand Shot...ranked 7th in Central Scouting Final Rankings, down from 6 at Mid-Term...scored 31 goals and 85 points in 66 games for a very good Portland team...Born in Bern, Switzerland...came to the WHL to join fellow countryman Nino Neiderreiter in Portland...excellent skater...possesses a heavy and accurate shot that is deadly around the net but will also shoot from the outside too...has great vision and is a skilled passer, capable of making linemates better...his size is of concern, and how his game in WHL will translate to the next level...a well rounded player who improved his defensive play and penalty killing abilities...not a dynamic skater, but is elusive and agile...great edge work...can play feisty...represented Switzerland at the World Junior Championships but wasn't involved physically in the play, which was uncharacteristic- played on the perimeter...his effectiveness is based on going towards the middle of the ice...can shy away from contact...has shown the willingness to work hard and improve his game, often staying on the ice long after practices...needs to add strength going forward...skates with a low center of gravity, can shake off checks...excellent hockey sense...lacks explosive element looked for in players of his size...has legitimate offensive upside as a scoring option but size is the major issue.
Born March 31, 1993...5'10", 165 pounds...Right Hand Shot...Ranked 9th in Central Scouting Final Rankings, up from 10 at Mid-Term...Topped all Ontario League Defenders with 26 goals, was second among D with 79 points in 63 games...set a Hockey Canada record with 13 points at the U-18 Championships this spring...elite skater in all facets; edges, lateral mobility, acceleration, and top end...can handle the puck and make plays at top speed...fantastic hockey sense and vision...distributes the puck very well with crisp passes...doesn't make poor decisions on a frequent basis...can go end-to-end with ease...highly creative...solid positionally...uses his skating, smarts, and an active stick defending in order to compensate for size mismatches...has the work ethic to continually improve his shortcomings, as his defense will attest...has learned to hip check and uses it often...possesses a heavy and accurate slapshot, and is capable of getting it off quickly...can exploit seams and lanes in creating offense...quarterbacks the power play better than OHL Player of the Year Ryan Ellis...excels at getting the puck up the ice, either by skating it or accurate passing...works hard on the ice...intense competitor...his size is a concern at the next level...durability may be an issue as well in regards to the wear and tear night in and night out in the NHL...will have to pick his spots in regards to taking the puck end to end...is the most dynamic defenseman in the Draft.
Highly creative center who makes everyone around him better ... high-end offensive talent ... excellent skater who can beat defenders with his speed or elusiveness ... hard shot with an NHL-caliber release ... very soft hands and superb puckhandler ... quick stick and sublime hands for making gorgeous passes or scoring memorable goals ... can stickhandle into traffic with ease ... smart defensively with the instincts to play effectively in all three zones ... a hard worker who doesn't have any real flaws to his game ... high character kid who has a good sense of humor ... needs to bulk up and get stronger ... can go stretches where he is uninvolved when playing defensive hockey
For more Wild draft coverage, be sure to check out Hockey Wilderness
Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. Over at Hockey Wilderness, Jennifer Conway takes a look at the last time Minnesota hosted the NHL Draft...all the way back to the year 1989.
- The first overall pick was Mats Sundin, the first European-born ever chosen first overall.
- Olaf Kolzig, drafted 19th overall by the Capitals, was the first South African-born player ever chosen in the draft.
- Dan Bylsma (109) was drafted four spots ahead of Pavel Bure (113).
- Twelve future NHL All-Stars were drafted: Mats Sundin, Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik, Mike Sillinger, Olaf Kolzig, Adam Foote, Nik Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure, Donald Audette, Arturs Irbe, and Vladimir Konstantinov.
- Of all the Red Wing picks that day, Mike Sillinger was their first, ahead of Federov and Lidstrom. This was due to draft rules in force at the time, limiting the availablity of 18 year old players to the first three rounds.
- Kris Draper was the only player drafted from the Canadian National Team. The Jets would later trade his rights to the Red Wings for $1.
- Despite being drafted 57th overall by the Boston Bruins, Wes Walz didn't become a full-fledged NHLer until he signed with the Minnesota Wild.
- This was the first draft to be televised in the U.S. and was carried by Sportsnet America.
For more NHL Draft coverage, be sure to check out Hockey Wilderness.
With the draft happening tonight, there is plenty of trade talk. The Flyers already kicked things off with a pair of trades yesterday but other teams are rumored to be moving pieces. Among them is Minnesota, who beat writer Michael Russo brought up the possibility of trading defenseman Brent Burns.
Burns, who scored 17 goals and 46 points for the Wild last season, is one season away from being an unrestricted free agent. It would make sense for General Manager Chuck Fletcher to trade him if a deal cannot be reached; however from the sounds of things it appears as if Burns would like to stay in Minnesota. From the article:
"I don't have any reason to be on pins and needles. I've been here a long time, I love it here, I feel comfortable here, but I also feel very comfortable in my game and what I can bring and I know I'm going to get better and better every year.
I think I made a lot of steps last year and I know I'm going to make a lot more steps next year. Wherever that may be -- I hope it's in Minnesota -- but I know I'm going to be a big part of any team that I'm a part of."
Other trade rumors (again courtesy of Russo):
• Florida, which always makes a splash at the draft, was talking to Edmonton about flipping the No. 1 and No. 3 picks. The Panthers in the past have traded the #1 pick away (most notably to Pittsburgh in 2003)
• Philadelphia's Kris Versteeg was reportedly on the block.
It's not often a trade happens the day before the NHL Draft but Philadelphia GM (and Minnesota native) Paul Holmgren has drastically re-shaped the Flyers with a pair of blockbuster trades. The first trade involved sending 40-goal scorer Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek (the #7 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft), the #8 selection and a third round pick. Philadelphia was previously without a first round pick for the third year in a row, having sent it to Toronto for Kris Versteeg.
The second trade involved captain Mike Richards being shipped to the Los Angeles Kings for forward Wayne Simmonds, prospect forward Brayden Schenn (the #5 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft and top NHL prospect according to Hockey's Future) and a second round pick. The Flyers also signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract.
Even with the Ed Snider way dominating, you can't help but be happy with the return Paul Holmgren was able to get. It may be a weak draft class, but he turned his two franchise pillars into Brayden Schenn (L.A.'s future franchise player), a #8 overall pick, and two young RFA forwards who will contribute immediately, and efficiently. Holmgren did all this while obeying his boss. That alone should get him through his current contract, but the return he got for Richards and Carter likely give him security beyond that.
So what did we learn today? Ed Snider runs the Flyers based on emotion, Paul Holmgren was able to make the loss of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter palatable, and the Flyers don't do long-term. Some will call it risky, some will call it a step forward, some will call it a necessary evil.
But mostly, it's Ilya and Claude's team now.
The new draft order for tomorrow night's first round:
7. Winnipeg (formerly Atlanta Thrashers)
8. Philadelphia Flyers (from Columbus Blue Jackets)
10. Minnesota Wild
11. Colorado (from St. Louis Blues)
13. Calgary Flames
14. Dallas Stars
15. New York Rangers
16. Buffalo Sabres
19. Edmonton (from Los Angeles Kings)
20. Phoenix Coyotes
21. Ottawa (from Nashville Predators)
22. Anaheim Ducks
23. Piitsburgh Penguins
24. Detroit Red WIngs
25.Toronto (from Philadelphia)
28. San Jose Sharks
30. Toronto (from Boston)
One of the interesting stories in this year's NHL Draft is the lack of any certainty. Other than the consensus top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, there is no general agreement on what prospect any team will take. That trickles down to the Minnesota Wild, who have the tenth overall pick. Looking at fifteen different mock drafts, the experts have eight different players slotted at #10. Mika Zibanejad, a center from Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League is the name which comes up more than any other player but other mocks have the Wild taking scoring forwards (an organizational weakness) Sven Bartschi, Sean Couturier and Joel Armia. Others have Minnesota taking the best player available and selecting defensemen Ryan Murphy or Nathan Beaulieu (who comes in second).
The different mock drafts and what player the experts have Minnesota taking at #10
SB Nation Mock Draft - C Mika Zibanejad
TSN.com - LW Sven Bartschi
Steven Hoffner (NHL.com) - D Ryan Murphy
Adam Kimelman (NHL.com) - C Sean Couturier
Mike G. Morreale (NHL.com) - Mika Zibanejad
Devin Persuad (NHL.com) - Mika Zibanejad
Hockey's Future - C Joel Armia
Bryan Reynolds (Hockey Wilderness) - Mika Zibanejad
In Lou We Trust - C Marc McNeil
Jackets Cannon - Mika Zibanejad
My NHL Draft - Nathan Beaulieu
The Hockey Writers - Nathan Beaulieu
The 2011 NHL Draft begins tomorrow, June 24, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul at 6 PM local time and 7 PM EDT. First round draft coverage will be on Versus, who once again will be simulcasting the feed from TSN (Canada's version of ESPN) beginning at 6. The NHL Network will be airing its First Round Draft Recap starting at 9:00 p.m. CDT.
Saturday's draft coverage will be broadcast beginning at 10:00 CDT on NHL Network and features rounds 2-7. In addition, the NHL Network will be re-airing coverage of the first round at 1:00 AM and 7:00 AM leading up to the second through seventh round.
Minnesota has six draft picks, including the tenth overall pick. Last year the Wild selected forward Mikael Granlund from HIFK in Finland with the ninth overall pick and look to add another impact player to their prospect pool.
A list of Minnesota draft picks:
First Round - #10 Overall
Second Round - No pick (traded to Boston in exchange for Chuck Kobasew)
Third Round - #71 Overall
Fourth Round - #101 Overall
Fifth Round - #131 Overall
Sixth Round - #161 Overall
Seventh Round - #191 Overall
For more Wild draft coverage, be sure to check out Hockey Wilderness
With the 2011 NHL Draft just a few days away, it's time to take a look at what positions the Minnesota Wild should be focusing their energy on. When you take a look at the Wild's prospect base, there are a couple of obvious positions of strength, and places that could use some shoring up.
When it comes to strengths in the Wild system, the first place to look is at goaltending. Niklas Backstrom is signed through 2013, and Minnesota has a number of strong developmental prospects in the wings such as Matt Hackett, the team's third-round pick in 2009, and Darcy Kuemper, among others. The future also appears to be getting brighter at the wing spots, with players such as Brett Bulmer, Erik Haula, and Jason Zucker having shown good progress this past season.
However, the Wild's biggest weakness, as anyone that watched the team in 2010-11 will attest, is putting the puck into the net. In the Western Conference, only the Edmonton Oilers scored fewer goals than the Wild, and Martin Havlat's 22 goals were enough to lead the team for the season. As a result, we can probably expect the Wild's early picks to be spent on players with a reputation as playmakers, whether it's on the wings or at the center spot.
We will look at a couple of potential prospects for the Wild over the next couple of days here as well, particularly those that have an opportunity to be selected with Minnesota's first-round pick, the tenth overall selection.
We all know that when it comes to hockey news, analysis, and discussion that the only place on the internet to look is the SB Nation family of blogs. In these days leading up to the NHL Draft, the writers of all the SB Nation hockey blogs are doing their 2011 NHL Mock Draft.
The Minnesota Wild have already had their selection in this process, and with the tenth overall selection, the folks over at Hockey Wilderness drafted Mike Zibanejad, a center from Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League.
Here is the logic behind the pick, straight from the Hockey Wilderness guys themselves:
Zibanejad has decent speed, good offensive skills, understands that his role requires him to be physical and knows how to get into the right spots to get that rebond, screen the goalie or go for the deflection. In addition, he has the ability to play wing.
I love the fact that Zibanejad fully understands his role as a powerforward and has become very accomplished at it. He may not be as flashy as prospects like Ryan Strome or Jonathan Huberdeau, but Zibanejad plays with tons of fire and knows that hits and battles along the boards wins pucks. He knows he has a good frame to give the hit and to screen the goalie. His understanding of the game and his role will make him a very successful NHL player, in any role.
Sounds like a pretty solid pick for the Wild, in my opinion. Earlier this year, the folks at Copper & Blue (SB Nation's Edmonton Oilers' blog) had an opportunity to interview Zibanejad, and came away quite impressed with what they heard.
We'll have a couple more mock drafts for you in the days leading up to the 2011 NHL Draft. Just keep checking right back here!
The 2011 NHL Draft takes place this Friday and Saturday, and not only will it be broadcast live on the Versus network, it's actually being held right here in the Twin Cities at the XCel Energy Center.
The Minnesota Wild hold the tenth overall selection at this year's selection meeting, and there isn't a real consensus as to who the local hockey team is targeting with that pick. From taking a look at the outstanding 2011 NHL Draft page over at Hockey Wilderness, there are six different names from mock drafts across the internet that the Wild are projected to select, so it's going to be interesting in these last few days leading up to the draft.
The first overall selection belongs to the Edmonton Oilers, and their pick seems to be one of the few things that there is a consensus about, as it appears that they will be selecting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a center from Red Deer of the AHL. Outside of that, it appears to be all up for grabs leading into Friday night's draft.
Keep this page bookmarked here at SB Nation Minnesota, as leading up to the draft we will have as many updates as we can find on the NHL Draft, and more specifically on what the Wild might be doing and who they might be targeting with that tenth overall selection.
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