Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Best Draft In Wild History

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The label of "best draft in Wild history" was not an easy one to determine.

As discussed yesterday, the Wild's drafting was pretty inept from 2000-08. When Chuck Fletcher, Brent Flahr, and company took over in 2009, the team made a huge point of emphasis on drafting well. However with that said, it is hard to fully judge the drafts from 2009-2014 because the players drafted still have yet to truly pan out.

Even though the 2010 draft still has really yet to see how the players will be remembered, it was still good enough to be named tops in Wild history (just edging out the 2009 draft). Here's how they drafted:

Round 1 (9th Overall): Mikael Granlund C, HIFK (Finland)
Round 2 (39th Overall): Brett Bulmer RW, Kelowna (WHL)
Round 2 (56th Overall): Johan Larsson LW, Brynas Jr (Sweden)
Round 2 (59th Overall): Jason Zucker RW, Denver (WCHA)
Round 6 (159th Overall): Johan Gustafsson G, Farjestad Jr (Sweden)
Round 7 (189th Overall): Dylen McKinlay RW, Chilliwack (WHL)

Its worth noting here, that the Wild traded their third and fourth round picks in this draft to Philadelphia in exchange for the 59th overall pick that netted them Zucker. They acquired the 56th overall pick from Washington in exchange for Eric Belanger, and Minnesota's fifth round pick (129th overall) went to San Jose in exchange for Brad Staubitz.

Minnesota taking Granlund with their first round pick was pretty much a no brainer. Granlund was the top ranked European skater, and after Nino Niederreiter went fifth to the Islanders, the Wild had their guy. In the two seasons since coming over from Finland, Granlund has made big strides for the Wild and projects to open up next season as their top line center.

In their previous draft history, Minnesota never had multiple second round picks before. They wound up with three thanks to a couple of trades. Bulmer, Larsson, and Zucker have all already suited up for Minnesota. Bulmer had a brief stint with the Wild in 2011-12 before being sent back to the WHL. He has played the past few seasons in the AHL and projects to be a bubble player in terms of making the Wild roster next fall.

Johan Larsson was traded for Buffalo in the Jason Pominville trade. With Mikko Koivu and Granlund projecting to be the top two centers for Minnesota, Larsson was expendable and was packaged for the Sabres' winger. While Larsson still has yet to play a full NHL season, he has the potential to be a solid two way center in the league.

The Wild really wanted Zucker if they were willing to part with their third and fourth round picks. He has dynamic speed and he has a knack for shooting the puck from anywhere on the ice. While Zucker has been up and down with the club the past two seasons, he projects to open the season on the roster and at full health after ending the season with an injury.

With the last two picks in the draft, Minnesota picked Gustafsson and McKinlay. Gustafsson will now go into the season as the Wild's top goaltending prospect. He spent some time up with the Wild this year, but never played in a game. He will be the number one goaltender in Iowa next season. McKinlay never signed with Minnesota and did not play hockey in 2013-14.

Obviously, the Wild have had better first round picks to date than Granlund (Gaborik, Koivu come to mind). But as for having a better all around draft, they have had none. Even though the jury is still out on most of these players, they have already done enough to get 2010 labeled as the best in Wild history.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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