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NHL Draft 2011 - Six Players Minnesota Could Take Tonight

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.


Mika Zibanejad

(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 willing to hit, understands that physical play can be beneficial...can play center and wing...plays with 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?

Nathan Beaulieu

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 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.

Joel Armia

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" 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.

Sven Bartschi

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.

Ryan Murphy

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 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 the most dynamic defenseman in the Draft.

Ryan Strome

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

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.