The Minnesota Wild started Sunday’s NHL draft with eight picks and no first-round selections for the first time in team history.
Eventually, Minnesota traded one of its third-round picks (No. 71 overall) to the New York Islanders, along with veteran forward Cal Clutterbuck in exchange for prospect Nino Niederreiter.
In the end, the Wild added seven draft picks to the organization Sunday, beginning with its first pick in the second round:
Round 2, pick 46: D Gustav Olofsson, Sweden
Size: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
2012-13 stats: 2 goals, 21 assists, 59 penalty minutes in 63 games for Green Bay in the United States Hockey League
Breakdown: Olofsson is Swedish, but has spent much of his life in the U.S., including living in Colorado the past four years. He’s currently committed to play at Colorado College next season and will surely either fulfill that requirement. He’s a big defenseman who is considered a smooth skater and he said he likens himself to Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, who had a breakthrough rookie season. Olofsson, rated No. 51 among North American Skaters in the final rankings by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, was the first in what was a continuing trend Sunday for Minnesota, in adding big size with an emphasis on defensemen.
Wild assistant general manager Brent Flahr says: “Gustav is a big mobile defenseman that really jumped up our draft rankings. He’s an intelligent player with quality natural instincts for the game. We feel like his game will continue to improve as he gets stronger and gains experience.”
Round 3, pick 81: RW Kurtis Gabriel, Canada
Size: 6-foot-3, 189 pounds
2012-13 stats: 13 goals, 15 assists, 100 penalty minutes in 67 games for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League
Breakdown: Even when it comes to forwards, the Wild are trying to add size and did so with Gabriel, who has the size of a prototypical power forward. Gabriel wasn’t listed among the Central Scouting’s final rankings, but Minnesota liked what it has seen in the potential for the big forward. Minnesota does need more size it continues its development of the organization and stable of prospects. Gabriel is older than most draftees, working his way into consideration to be drafted now as a 20 year old.
Flahr says: “Big imposing winger that brings a physical element every night. He’s a late bloomer that really improved this season.”
Round 4, pick 107: D Dylan Labbe, Canada
Size: 6-foot-1, 180 pounds
2012-13 stats: 7 goals, 21 assists, 57 penalty minutes in 61 games for Shawinigan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Breakdown: Labbe is tall and has offensive potential as a defenseman. Two years ago he scored 13 goals in 38 games in juniors. Labbe was ranked No. 74 among North American skaters and has seen his standing rise after ranking No. 95 in the midterm rankings.
Flahr says: “A smart puck-moving D-man that plays in all situations. Needs to get stronger but we feel he has a quality upside.”
Round 5, pick 137: D Carson Soucy, Canada
Size: 6-foot-4, 191 pounds
2012-13 stats: 5 goals, 10 assists, 71 penalty minutes in 35 games for Spruce Grove of the Alberta Junior Hockey League
Breakdown: Soucy fits the bill for a big, physical defenseman. His 17 penalty minutes in 35 games show his physical side and he can be a towering presence at 6-foot-4. Soucy was ranked No. 129 in the Central Scouting rankings among North American skaters. Soucy will play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season.
Flahr says: “A 6-4 D-man with good mobility and does a good job of moving the puck.”
Round 6, pick 167: C Avery Peterson, Grand Rapids, Minn.
Size: 6-foot-2, 194 pounds
2012-13 stats: 23 goals, 31 assists in 23 games for Grand Rapids High School
Breakdown: Peterson is big and he also adds another Minnesota prep player to the organization, joining Mario Lucia and Nick Seeler, who were drafted in 2011. Peterson was one of the highest Minnesotans in the Central Scouting rankings, checking in at No. 77 among North American skaters. Peterson also played for Sioux City in the United States Hockey League last season and had one goal and three assists in nine games.
Flahr says: “A good-sized, two-way center that skates well and has been a productive player at the high school and USHL levels.”
Round 7, pick 197: D Nolan De Jong, Canada
Size: 6-foot-2, 173 pounds
2012-13 stats: 5 goals, 19 assists, 16 penalty minutes for Victoria of the British Columbia Hockey League
Breakdown: De Jong adds another tall player for the Wild, but he will certainly need to fill out and get stronger, weighing in at only 173 pounds. De Jong isn’t a very physical player. He’s another riser on the Central Scouting list, ranking 150th among North American skaters and finishing at No. 111 in the final rankings. He will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.
Flahr says: “Nolan is a physical kid who needs to add some size as he progresses.”
Round 7, pick 200: G Alexandre Belanger, Canada
Size: 6-foot, 170 pounds
2012-13 stats: 3.46 goals-against average and .875 save percentage in 44 games for Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL
Breakdown: Minnesota wrapped up its draft by adding another goaltender to the organization. The Wild wanted to add a young goaltender to a crop that will including the recently re-signed Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding at the NHL level and prospects Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson expected to play in the American Hockey League. With the four ready at the pro level, Belanger would likely return to his junior team. Belanger was ranked 14th among North American goaltenders on the Central Scouting list and was the 19th goaltender overall taken in the draft.
Flahr says: “Scout Marc Chamard felt strongly about Alexandre. He was primarily a backup but earned the starting role down the stretch for the Huskies and had a good playoff run. He was highly touted going into the junior ranks.”