Monday, June 23, 2014

The Worst Draft In Wild History

Photo: Sara Davis/Getty Images
When looking to determine what draft year was the "worst" in Wild history, one did not have to look beyond the Doug Risebrough era to find a winner. The Wild had hit on its first round draft picks from 2000-03 (Gaborik, Koivu, Bouchard, and Burns), but then could not hit on any between 2004-08.

The first year in the "First Round Bust" era is the draft chosen as the worst in team history. The year was 2004. The Wild were coming off a disappointing 2003-04 season in which they finished last in the Northwest Division with a 30-29-20-3 record. The Wild entered the draft with 12 picks, in what would be the last big league function prior to the lockout that wiped out the following season. Here is how the Wild drafted that year, in Carolina:

Round 1 (12th Overall): A.J. Thelen D, Michigan State (NCAA)
Round 2 (42nd Overall): Roman Voloshenko LW, Krylja (RUS Jr.)
Round 3 (78th Overall): Peter Olvecky LW, Trencin (SVK)
Round 3 (79th Overall): Clayton Stoner D, Tri-City (WHL)
Round 4 (111th Overall): Ryan Jones F, Chatham (WQJHL)
Round 4 (114th Overall): Patrick Bordeleau LW, Val-D'Or (QMJHL)
Round 4 (117th Overall): Julien Springer RW, HC Fribourg (Swiss)
Round 5 (161st Overall): Jean-Claude Sawyer D, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Round 6 (175th Overall): Aaron Boogaard RW, Tri-City (WHL)
Round 7 (195th Overall): Jean-Michel Rizk RW, Saginaw (OHL)
Round 7 (206th Overall): Anton Khudobin G, Magnitogorsk (Russia)
Round 9 (272nd Overall): Kyle Wilson C, Colgate (NCAA)

Out of these 12 players, only six (Olvecky, Stoner, Jones, Bordeleau, Khudobin, and Wilson) made it to the NHL. Olvecky (31 games), Stoner (227 games), and Khudobin (6 games) were the only players out of those six to ever suit up for Minnesota.

A.J. Thelen battled inconsistent play following his being drafted by Minnesota. The following year, he was dismissed by Michigan State for rules infractions and wound up playing in the WHL. Between 2005 and 2007, Thelen never lived up to the expectations Minnesota had for him and went unsigned. He went on to play in various leagues through 2011 before hanging up the skates.

The second round pick in the draft, Voloshenko, played two seasons for Houston (Minnesota's AHL affiliate) before returning home to Russia. He too called it a career after the 2010-11 season.

And for those wondering, yes, Aaron Boogaard is the brother of the late Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard. Aaron never signed with Minnesota, but did get a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007. He never made it to the NHL, but spent three seasons with their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Following a draft that will go down as one of the best in league history (2003), the 2004 draft did not offer up much for big name players (Ovechkin and Malkin went 1-2 in the draft), but there were steals to be had in the later rounds (David Krejci, Alex Edler, Johan Franzen, Kris Versteeg, Pekka Rinne, and Mark Streit were all taken in rounds 2-9). The Wild never found a steal, and only produced one player who played a significant number of games for them.

Hitting on one pick out of twelve is not a good percentage. That is why the 2004 draft has been chosen as the worst in Wild history. It is unlikely the team will ever have that many picks in the draft again (especially since there are only seven rounds now) and it is also unlikely they will ever fail so significantly when it comes to their first two picks in the draft (at least in the Chuck Fletcher era).

Check back tomorrow and find out which draft is the best in team history.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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