A “Wild” Draft For The Big Club…

Boy, the Wild were active in the 2011 draft, finding ways to send shock waves through a mostly-partisan crowd throughout most of the two days.

The Wild drafted six players overall: two centers, two defenseman, one winger and one goaltender.  For more on the newest players in the pipeline, click here.

With all of the players being so young (3 of them played in high school last season), it’s tough to get a gauge on how good these kids will be when they eventually turn pro.  However, you can see a trend developing – and that’s the need to be deep at the center ice position as well as having a number of  mobile, puck-moving defensemen.  The importance of this can not be overstated.  Sure, it may take 2-3 years for some of these kids to even be ready to don an Aeros’ sweater, let alone a Wild jersey, but “restocking the cupboard” was something that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has stressed since he took over the Wild more than two years ago now.

As for the trade of Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks, I love the move.  The Wild had a piece – a commodity – in Burns, and they found a way to move him for a young, up-and-coming scorer.  Burns’ offense from the back end will be missed, but from everything I gathered this season, he was too much of a defensive liability at times and knowing Mike Yeo, that wouldn’t fly in his system.  In addition to getting Devin Setoguchi in the deal, the Wild also got Charlie Coyle – a kid they think could be ready for the big stage in the very near future.  The move also means there should be more ice time at the NHL level this season for guys like Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser and Justin Falk.

Looking at the Wild “depth chart”, I still think they need to bring in a veteran defenseman via free agency – maybe even someone with ties to Pittsburgh / Yeo that he has some familiarity with.  But, regardless of that, it’s looking more and more like several players from the Aeros 2010-2011 roster will have a real shot to crack the big club in October.  That’s been the Wild’s public stance recently, and I don’t think they are bluffing…

Overall, the draft was a lot of fun – getting to see this type of league-wide event from a media / team perspective was pretty cool.  The fans here were geeked up throughout the event – booing every Canucks draft pick and loudly cheering all Minnesota-born players.  I got a chance to talk with some of the Wild draft picks – those interviews are up on the multimedia page.

Here are just some of the notable NHL “celebs” that I caught at least a glimpse of during the last 24-hours plus in St. Paul:

Scotty Bowman, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Phil Housley, Ron Hextall, Peter Laviolette, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Steve Yzerman, Penguins’ GM Ray Shero and media personalities Scott Burnside, Deb Placey, Brian Duffy.

I’ll be checking back in throughout the summer with more blogs and interviews – stay tuned.

– Aero Joe



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