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Thursday, June 21, 2012

MInnesota Wild Draft Preview and Trade Preview

The NHL Entry Draft takes place tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. The Wild hold the seventh overall pick in the draft. General Manager, Chuck Fletcher has done a great job of accruing prospects in his previous drafts. Hopefully this draft will include more of the same. This draft is very heavy on defensive prospects. But does feature a few potential impact forwards. Minnesota currently has more Forward depth in it's prospect pool then defenseman. But the Wild will select the player they think has the most potential, regardless of position.                  more after the jump.

Top ten 2012 NHL draft prospects:
1. Nail Yakupov- Forward-The consensus best player in this draft. Has drawn comparisons to my favorite player of all-time; Pavel Bure. Great hands, great skater, and a great finisher. Only downside is his nationality; Russian. This has some teams worried, that he will be poached by the the KHL(the Russian professional hockey league.)
2.Ryan Murray- Defenseman- The top rated D-man, in a draft full of quality defenseman. He played well in this years World Championships against mostly professionals, as an 18 year old. Elite Skater, great at making the first pass to get the puck out of the zone and up the ice.
3. Filip Forsberg- Center- The highest rated European player in this years draft class. Not related to fellow Swede, Peter Forsberg. Has a high offensive IQ. Is likely to stay in Sweden for at least one more year, to add strength.
4.Mikhail Grigorenko-Center-Another highly skilled Russian. He has great size and great skill. Questions about his compete level, and his country of origin, could cause him to slide on draft night.
5.Matthew Dumba- Defenseman- Loves to hit and punish. Has a great shot, and quality offensive instincts for a d-man. Teams are slightly worried about the defensive side of his game.
6.Alex Galchenyuk- Center- Tore his ACL at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. Was considered a top 3 prospect before that. Came back for the last two OHL games, and the OHL playoffs. He has a great skill and could be the steal of the draft for whoever takes him. He is actually an American, despite the Russian last name.
7.Morgan Reilly- Defenseman- Might be the best skater in the draft. He has tremendous offensive skills. Great passer. Compared to this years NHL Norris Trophy winner; Erik Karlsson.
8.Griffin Reinhart- Defenseman- Big, strong, defensive style defenseman. He has the ability to grow into a shutdown type of defenseman. Projects to be like Adam Foote, or Willie Mitchell, with a bit more skill to his game.
9.Jacob Touba- Defenseman- Another solid defenseman in this class. Highest rated US d-man. Big, and strong, and has some skill.
10.Teuvo Teravainen- Forward- Second highest rated European player. May have the best hands in this draft. Extremely fast as well. He is the highest rising prospect of this years draft class. He is undersized, under 6" tall, but has great skill. Finnish player.

Who Should the Wild select? In a perfect world they would trade up for Yakupov. But that would cost too much, and is highly unrealistic. Although they have a ton of potential NHL forwards, if Galchenyuk falls to them, they have to select him. He might be the best prospect in this draft class and he is a natural center, which is the hardest NHL position to fill. It is also the most important position on the ice. I would be a proponent of trading up a couple of spots, to ensure that we can select him. Because I believe he has the potential to be a superstar NHL player. Plus he is not a risk, to spurn the NHL for the KHL. If he is gone, I would select Teravainen. Teravainen, has great skill, and has been compared to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Yes, he is undersized. But we can stash him in Finalnd for a few years, to allow him to develop the size and strength needed to play in the NHL. We did this with Mikael Granlund, and it appears to have worked out OK.

Another interesting wrinkle to the 2012 Draft, is the number of star players on the trading block. The Entry Draft is usually a trading hotbed. But never before have this many good players been rumored to be available.  These players include; Rick Nash (Columbus), Jordan Staal(Pittsburgh),Bobby Ryan(Anaheim), Roberto Loungo(Vancouver), and James Van Riemsdyk(Philadelphia). Other "name players" potentially on the block; Patrick Kane(Chicago), Jay Bouwmeester(Calgary), and Devin Setoguchi(Minnesota). Will the Wild make a move to get any of these players?

Jordan Staal, of the Penguins is seen as the the best fit for Minnesota. Minnesota Coach, Mike Yeo, was an assistant coach for the Penguins, so he is familiar with Staal's game, as is GM Chuck Fletcher  who was the Penguin's Assistant GM, before coming to the Wild. Personally, I don't believe the Wild will make a big move until after free-agency begins. They obviously want to go after Zach Parise, and will probably wait to make any big moves, until that situation plays itself out.

If the Wild do try an make a blockbuster trade, I hope the guys they target are Bobby Ryan, or James Van Riemsdyk. Both of these players are highly skilled, but they also are bigger guys who are not afraid to crash the net. Their strength, and ability to get to the net is what the Wild sorely lack. Out of all of Minnesota's highly touted Forward prospects, Brett Bulmer is the only one who you could call a "power forward". Minnesota, is also severely lacking size on its current NHL roster. With only the oft-injured Gui Lattendresse, and Dany Heatley being of the "power forward" ilk.

Of Course,  making any big trade, requires giving up something good to get something good.  When you look at the Wild's NHL roster, there are not a lot of players, who could fetch star talent by themselves. And I don't think the Wild should damage their prospect pool, by trading a few of them for one star player. In my opinion; Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson and Zach Phillips are prospects that are untouchable. I would be open to dealing; Brett Bulmer, Jason Zucker, or Jonas Gustavsson, if it met getting Bobby Ryan, James Van Riemsdyk, or a player of that caliber.

 Of the players on the NHL roster, I would be open to trading; Devin Setoguchi, Nik Backstrom, Dany Heatley, and Matt Cullen in that order. If someone is dumb enough to take Pierre Marc Bouchard's contract, they can have him as well.

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