Wild have plenty of options with No. 7 pick
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The
Minnesota Wild staff, including general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant
general manager Brent Flahr, try to project the first round of the NHL Draft
each year to see which prospects might fall to Minnesota.
Most seasons, they’re predictions are fairly accurate. Last year, Fletcher said
he had the top 10 pretty well pegged. This year, with Minnesota holding the No.
7 overall pick, the team’s highest since 2005, the predictions are a little
"This year, you could say the top 12, maybe 13, players on each team's
list are fairly similar, but (are in a) dramatically different order,"
Flahr said. "The names are the same, probably. It's going to be an
interesting draft. It can go in a lot of different directions."
Nail Yakupov is generally regarded as the top prospect available in Friday's
first round, but there is no consensus after that. Not much
separates the next dozen players, any of whom could sneak into the top 10
depending on team preference. Another consideration is that most of the
top picks this season also will need at least a year of seasoning before they’re
ready to make the jump to the NHL.
The Wild have another important pick on their hands, their highest selection
since taking Benoit Pouliot No. 4 overall in 2005. Fletcher and Flahr
feel confident in their evaluation rankings and know they will get, at least,
the seventh-best player on their board.
A look at eight players Minnesota could pick at No. 7, ranked in the likelihood
they will end up in a Wild sweater:
Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton (WHL)
Height/weight: 6- 4, 207 pounds
2011 stats: 12 goals 24 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Reinhart, the No. 8 prospect
among North American skaters in the NHL's central scouting final rankings,
would bring a physical presence to Minnesota's blue line. He is a true two-way
defenseman and can add a big shot on the point.
Wild assistant GM Flahr says: "Griffin's an intriguing
guy. His size and skill set is very attractive. He's a big kid, a powerful
skater. He shoots the puck a ton. He moves the puck and he's just kind of a kid
that's grown into his body. He's got a ways to go, but he's also has quality,
quality upside when you look at him three or four years from now."
Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-0, 190
2011 stats: 3 goals, 15 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Rielly, ranked No. 5 among
North Americans, was limited to 18 games last season because of a torn anterior
cruciate ligament. He is an offensive defenseman and someone who can move the
puck, which is something Minnesota has been seeking as evidenced by its trade
of Nick Schultz for Tom Gilbert.
Flahr says: "He missed most of the year with an ACL
injury, which is unfortunate for him in his draft year. But he's a terrific
skater. He's got good offensive skill. He needs to work in certain areas of his
game, as any young player does. Certainly a talent."
Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit (Finland)
Height/weight: 5-11, 165
2011 stats: 11 goals, 7 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Teravainen, ranked second
among European skaters, split last season among three different teams,
including Jokerit's junior and senior teams. He played 40 games for the senior
club, where he scored 11 times. The slight Finn is a playmaker, and Minnesota
has certainly tried to acquire as much skill as it can. A transition would be
aided by the presence of fellow Finns captain Mikko Koivu, rookie Mikael
Granlund and goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
Flahr says: "Teravainen's a smaller, skilled Finnish
player but highly, highly skilled with great hands and great vision. He's got
to get a lot stronger. He can pick up the pace at times, but terrific instincts
Jacob Trouba, D, USA U-18 (USHL)
Height/weight: 6-2, 193
2011 stats: 9 goals, 22 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Trouba, ranked No. 9 among
North American skaters, is a stay-at-home defenseman with good size who can
clear opponents away from the net. With its stable of young forwards, Minnesota
might look to this draft to shore up the defensive unit. Trouba can shoot from
the point, but will be drafted early because of his ability to stop other
Flahr says: "Trouba's more of a defensive guy, but he's a
bigger, stronger guy. He can really shoot the puck, though. He's got some
ability, but I think his bread and butter at the next level is going to be on
the defensive side. He does have a chance to be a good one."
Ryan Murray, D, Everett (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-0, 201
2011 stats: 9 goals, 22 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Murray, ranked second among
North American skaters, is likely to be the first defenseman drafted, so he
might not make it to Minnesota. He has good size, instincts and experience
and can play an all-around game. He also is close to being NHL-ready, and the
Wild might not be looking for another young player ready to break in this
season. However, Minnesota will also look for the best player available and
will take Murray if he is that guy.
Flahr says: "Ryan's been around, played junior for a
while now. He's a very intelligent player. Probably not the flashiest player as
far as in an offensive role, but he has a very well matured game and is very
mature kid, pretty close to probably being NHL-ready."
Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec (QMJHL)
Height/weight: 6-3, 200
2011 stats: 40 goals, 45 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Grigorenko, the third-ranked
North American skater, has good size and skill. He led all rookies in the QMJHL
in goals and points. Grigorenko would add more size up front for Minnesota. A
team can never have enough centers, and most of the Wild's young forwards are
Flahr says: "Grigorenko is a tall centerman. He's got
terrific hands and vision. His skill set's elite. It's just getting stronger
and picking up the pace of his game, learning to compete at the pro
Alex Galchenyuk, F, Sarnia (OHL)
Height/weight: 6-0, 198
2011 stats: 0 goals, 0 assists (just two games)
What he would bring to the Wild: Galchenyuk played only two
games last season because of a knee injury, but had 31 goals and 52 assists the
previous year with Sarnia. The fourth-ranked North American skater can shoot
and pass and was a teammate of Yakupov's the past two seasons. Minnesota might
just take a chance on his talent and could pair him with the talented young
forwards soon on the way.
Flahr says: "Galchenyuk's another kid who's very skilled.
He's very good at distributing the puck. He missed a majority of the year with
a knee injury, but he's a very smart and skilled offensive player that has a
chance to be a quality pro."
Filip Forsberg, F, Leksand (Sweden)
Height/weight: 6-2, 181
2011 stats: 8 goals, 9 assists
What he would bring to the Wild: Forsberg, the top-rated
European skater, split his season among three teams, playing 43 games with
Leksand. A natural goal scorer, Forberg was the youngest player on Sweden's
gold-medal team at the 2012 World Junior Championships. He has decent size, and
Minnesota is always looking for more goal scoring after finishing with the
lowest goal total in the league last season.
Flahr says: "Forsberg's more of a goal scorer. He's a
winger, good size and speed. He can really shoot the puck. He'll shoot it from
Hall on Twitter.