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 2011 Wild Draft Previews

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KillerCarlson



Posts : 271
Join date : 2009-09-25

PostSubject: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:38 am

Wild Prospect Preview - Forwards

2011 Wild Draft Preview: Forwards

Written by Derek Felska | 05 June 2011

I have to admit, the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been on my mind since watching the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. I was in grade school the last time the NHL Entry Draft was in Minnesota back in 1989. My favorite team, the Minnesota North Stars decided to play to the home crowd as much as possible when they selected Rochester John Marshall High School's Doug Zmolek with the 7th Overall pick. Zmolek did not turn into the stud defenseman the North Stars had hoped and was just one of many failed 1st round picks over the franchise's history which often kept them starved for talent. The Minnesota Wild find themselves in a similar situation. Drafting woes, especially in the 1st round where busts (A.J. Thelen - 12th Overall, 2004) underwhelming results have left the organization lacking high end talent that can allow the franchise to reach its primary goal which would be continual appearances in the playoffs. It has almost become cliche, but the league's best teams that seem to be battling for a Stanley Cup in mid-May all have one thing in common in the fact they have built themselves up with a core group of players they selected in the NHL Entry Draft. So almost needless to say, if you want to be amongst the league's elite you better do well at the draft to have the pipeline of talent that will keep you at that level for many seasons.

I would like to acknowledge that The State of Hockey News has teamed up with Bruce, perhaps better known to Wild.com'ers as KISSArmyMan. We have come together to identify the team's biggest draft needs and that has led us to come up with 5 players we feel would be the best for the Wild to select with the 10th Overall pick that would likely be available when Minnesota is able to make its selection. As I have done in the past we will produce 3 preview articles before we issue a complete mock draft of the Wild's 6 selections (barring trades for more or less picks of course). As was the case in the previous previews we will also consult the opinions of expert consortiums like the Hockey News, the International Scouting Service, and HockeyProspect.com. We believe the Wild's draft priorities by position should be: 1. Forward, 2. Defenseman, 3. Goaltenders based on the team's relative prospect depth. (click on the link for the rest of the article)

This is the first of 3 articles covering possibilities for the 2011 Draft. I will be at the draft and I have to admit I'm pretty excited and I am hoping the Wild make it count. As we have seen, this team has paid a steep price for its poor drafting. I will try to have the other two articles done over the course of a week. Included are a series of YouTube clips to give you a few ideas of what these players bring to the table.

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KillerCarlson



Posts : 271
Join date : 2009-09-25

PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:46 am

2011 Wild Draft Preview - Defenseman

2011 Wild Draft Preview: Defenseman

Written by Derek Felska | 08 June 2011

Maybe I've been spending a little too much time watching the Discovery Channel's new show, Deception with Keith Barry but in his show he picks up on subtle body language cues to implant thoughts into people's subconscious. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a 1,000 words, but perhaps it was a sign of trouble and we didn't notice it at the time. Look to at the person on the far left of this picture of Minnesota's 1st round pick in 2008 (23rd Overall), defenseman Tyler Cuma; at Minnesota's Director of Amateur Scouting, Hall of Fame defenseman Guy Lapointe. While former Wild draft czar Tommy Thompson smiles with apparent glee at Cuma's selection, Lapointe looks subdued and almost uncomfortable as they stand for the obligatory draft day podium photographs. C'mon Guy, at least crack a smile at least you weren't the Minnesota Vikings of a few years ago and not getting your pick on time and giving other teams the chance to pick ahead of you for nothing in return. You'd think the general excitement of the draft would be enough to make former Canadiens great grin just a bit but that's not what we see. Maybe I picked a bad picture and the one where Lapointe is sporting a big smile is somewhere else out in cyberspace. However, let's just speculate on this picture a bit shall we? Perhaps Guy Lapointe wasn't sold on the Ottawa 67's defenseman whom the team had just traded a 2nd round pick to the New Jersey Devils to move up one spot to select. How has Cuma repaid the Wild for their decision to leap frog over the Devils? A major knee injury sustained at Team Canada U-20 tryout camp and just 6 goals in two injury riddled junior seasons and a short pro debut where he lasted just 31 games before he suffered the 2nd major knee injury of his career. Did I hear someone whisper the word 'bust'? Not to be too cynical, but in a game of Hangman you'd be at BU_ _ already. I think you have to admit Cuma's development hasn't gone as hoped and right now if he's able to salvage a pro career it will be no small feat. Maybe Guy just had a bad feeling about this kid, but the feeling of discomfort now sits with the Wild's management as well as its fans as it looks like it swung and missed on its 2nd defenseman it drafted since the lockout that failed to live up to expectations after the club's first official 1st round bust in Savage, Minnesota's A.J. Thelen (12th Overall, 2004).

This is the 2nd portion of our 3-part series covering potential draft candidates for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul. You can view our first article, covering potential forward candidates here. As I said in the earlier article I am working with Bruce, better known to wild.com'ers as KISSArmyMan. We have done the research to try to identify the players that we think will best help the team as well as be available when the Wild make their selection with the 10th Overall pick (barring a trade of course). In 2003, the Minnesota Wild got lucky when it drafted a lanky but athletic kid out of the OHL's Brampton Battalion in Brent Burns (20th Overall). Burns was drafted as a Right Winger and the team had hoped he'd develop into a power forward but he couldn't seem to gel his skills with his athleticism and luckily enough the team was able to convert him into a defenseman. After a season or two of experimentation at playing forward and defense he finally settled in on the blueline and the Wild began to see their great athlete blossom. This year Burns' re-established his game which had gotten a little erratic the previous two seasons due to injuries and inconsistent play and the result was his best season ever with 17 goals, 46 points and 98 penalty minutes in 80 games. The reward for his best-ever season was his selection to play in the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina. While his play seems to be back on track towards becoming a potential Norris Trophy candidate, the franchise has some tough decisions to make as he is about to enter his final season of his contract. After a monster season like 2010-11 was, Burns will be expecting a hefty raise from his current annual stipend of $3.55 million. The question is, can the Wild which are already dangerously close to the cap ceiling and already burdened by some other big cap space eaters like the contracts given to Niklas Backstrom, Martin Havlat, and most recently Mikko Koivu afford another large salary on the books? Athletes of Burns' quality are rare and considering the time and money that has been spent to get the Ajax, Ontario-native to this point it would not seem that desirable to trade him but with the cap constraints as they are the team may be forced to move him. Yet by reading the articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune it appears the team would like to negotiate a contract and keep Burns in the fold, so we will operate under that premise that he is going to stay in Minnesota beyond the 2011-12 season.

So what does the Minnesota Wild's blueline need? How did this differ from last season, see for yourself here. The organization has a variety of defenseman ripening on the vine in junior, college and in the American Hockey League in the aforementioned Tyler Cuma, Nate Prosser, Maxim Noreau, Justin Falk, Marco Scandella, Sean Lorenz, Chay Genoway, Colton Jobke, Josh Caron, and Bjorn Krupp. We have identified the following qualities that we feel the Wild's blueline and its pool of prospects are in the greatest demand.

1. Two-way ability - The Wild still need defenseman that can contribute at both ends of the ice. The team does not have many blueline prospects that fit this description.

2. Physical Play - The Wild have always lacked a truly nasty blueliner that loves to dish out hits like San Jose's Douglas Murray. The Wild prospect pool currently has no defenseman or defensive prospects that you would call a big hitter.

3. Offensive Skill - The team is goal starved and while Brent Burns and Marek Zidlicky can put up points from the blueline the team could always use a few more points from its defense. (click on the link for the rest of the article)

I still would like to see the team draft a forward but if it has to be a defenseman with the 1st pick I guess this is the direction I'd like to see the team go. There are some decent defenseman with varying styles of play that offer some intriguing possibilities.
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KillerCarlson



Posts : 271
Join date : 2009-09-25

PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:11 pm

2011 Wild Draft Preview - Goaltenders

2011 Wild Draft Preview: Goaltenders

Written by Derek Felska | 12 June 2011

As fans you take them for granted. They go about each game, contorting themselves and willfully standing in front of shots that most sane people would avoid at all costs. Goaltenders are crucially important and like a quality starting pitcher in baseball they can turn a good team into a great one. Or they can be a source of weakness and instability. Philadelphia has been searching for a solid #1 goaltender for the last 15 years and earlier this week traded for the rights to negotiate with Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov. The Ottawa Senators have been also in a near-constant search for stability in the crease since the departure of Dominik Hasek at the end of the 2006 season. Fans usually do not care how a goaltender stops pucks, but if the goaltender brings about victories they can become franchise stalwarts for years and instant fan favorites. I personally have never quite understood that fascination but its undeniable that for a certain segment of fans its all about the goalie.

There is an old hockey draft saying that goes you never draft a goaltender in the 1st round. For the Minnesota Wild they've done pretty well by sticking to that saying. The Wild have never drafted a goaltender with its 1st round pick in its 11-year franchise history. Instead the team has opted to draft goaltenders in the later rounds and by all accounts has had a pretty reasonable measure of success. Goaltenders like Josh Harding (2nd round, 38th Overall in 2002), the unorthodox and athletic Anton Khudobin (7th round, 206th Overall in 2004), Matthew Hackett (3rd round, 77th Overall in 2009) and this year's WHL goaltender of the year Darcy Kuemper (6th round, 161st Overall in 2009) are solid examples of quality talent acquired through the draft. The team has had a few failures in this regard in Miroslav Kopriva (6th round, 187th Overall in 2003), Kristofer Westblom (3rd round, 65th Overall in 2005), and 6'7" Finnish giant Niko Hovinen (5th round, 132nd Overall in 2006), but it hasn't been enough to prevent the team from having quality talent in the team's prospect pool. The team has also done well by acquiring effective goaltending talent via free agency. Dwayne Roloson, current #1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore were all effective free agent signings which has kept the organization's play between the pipes to be a franchise strength. Another one of these free agents, German-born netminder Dennis Endras is another goaltender with great potential after two excellent performances at the IIHF World Championships in back-to-back years. Endras is expected to make his way to North America where he may end up Houston, the Wild's AHL affiliate or perhaps surprise everyone and be with the big club. Endras will certainly have competition after a breakthrough performance by Matthew Hackett as he guided the Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals as a rookie. Hackett's respectable 14-10 record, 2.50 goals against average and .903% save percentage has made some believe he is the organization's future #1 goalie. With all of this goaltending depth readily apparent, it is logical that it is not very likely that the team will select a goalie in the first round but as another hockey saying goes, you can never have enough good goaltenders the Wild still may draft one.

Again, working with Bruce, better known as wild.com's KISSArmyMan we will identify 5 goaltenders that we feel the club should consider albeit probably not with their 1st round selection. Using scouting report material from the Hockey News, International Scouting Services and HockeyProspect.com we will show you who we think are the best goaltenders available in this year's draft. You can see what my rankings were for last year's goalies, here. (click on the link for the rest of the article)

I do not believe the Wild are going to take a goaltender in the 1st round, but to keep things equal and to give people an idea of what goaltending talent is out there I always include it anyways. There is a reasonable chance the Wild don't select any goaltenders in this year's draft but here's what's available regardless. Enjoy!
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KillerCarlson



Posts : 271
Join date : 2009-09-25

PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:02 pm

2011 Mock Draft-a-palooza

2011 NHL Mock Draft-a-palooza

Written by Derek Felska | 19 June 2011

I am not sure about you, but the picture above does not look all that fun. Professional athletes are poked, prodded, tested, re-tested, examined in excruciating detail, given psychological examinations and interviewed by scouts and team management hoping to find the smallest defect in personality, physiology and intelligence. Ultimately, they use all that data along with their countless amount of hours spent scouting to assist them in their selections on draft day. The level of detail of these examinations never really hit me until I saw a draft day feature about the St. Louis Blues. At the time, the head of the Blues' scouting department was Jarmo Kekkalainen who allowed NHL cameras to see that he even consulted with growth evaluators that would factor in bone measurements to attempt to determine a player's potential at further advancements in height or whether they had already peaked. So imagine the sorts of thoughts that would go through one's mind while some strange doctor is putting you through your paces to try determine factors that are basically entirely out of your control. So for a player like 2011 hopeful Gabriel Landeskog (seen above) being put through these kinds of trials is all a part of being high profile NHL prospect. But they're just hockey players?!?! To you and I that is probably the case but to NHL owners these players are multi-million dollar investments and the short and long-term future of a franchise can be altered from a team's ability to maximize the results of any given draft.

One or a few great drafts can become a team's core that will keep the organization successful for years to come. Want an example, just look at what the 1989 draft did for the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings selected Mike Sillinger (11th Overall), Niklas Lidstrom (53rd Overall), Sergei Fedorov (74th Overall), Dallas Drake (116th Overall), and Vladimir Konstantinov (221st Overall). All of those players were successful NHL players, and Lidstrom, Fedorov and Konstantinov would be key components of the team's steady rise to prominence. Too far back you say, well how about the 2003 draft for the San Jose Sharks where they drafted Milan Michalek (6th Overall), Steve Bernier (16th Overall), Matt Carle (47th Overall), and Joe Pavelski (205th Overall) and while that is not nearly as impressive of a group as Detroit's bounty of 1989 it still gave the Sharks plenty of talent to turn its fortunes around and / or as valuable assets that were dealt for important pieces it would use for years to come. Simply put, quality teams are built through the draft and fans and hockey experts realize this which is why they spend lots of time speculating who will draft who. The league even has its own group of experts who join in the speculation. (click on the link for the rest of the article)

Apart from my own mock draft there are over 15 other mock drafts linked as part of the article so you will see just about everyone's opinion as to how they think the 1st round will shake out. Check it out! Feel free to share your own!
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zamboni14



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Join date : 2009-09-22
Location : Plymouth, Minnesota

PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:01 am

no way I see the Wild taking a D or goalie in round 1... so we'll skip that idea.

What do you think the odds of Couturier falling to #10 and the Wild taking him if he does fall to them?
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TaLoN

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PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:24 pm

I don't think he falls to 10 myself, if he did it'd be a no brainer.
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zamboni14



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PostSubject: Re: 2011 Wild Draft Previews   Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:31 am

Thanks TaLoN.. just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something about him.
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