Every year I fall in love with a prospect slated to go right around where the Wild pick. In 2010, I fell in love with a young man named Ryan Johanson, who the Blue Jackets picked up at #4, 5 picks before the Wild were picking. Though Johanson is one of the best prospects in the game, it should be noted that it didn’t work out to badly for the Wild, as Granlund is at the very least a player of Johanson’s caliber, if not more. Last year, I was all about Mika Zibanejad, who the Ottawa Senators snapped up at #6, 4 picks shy of the Wild’s pick. Again, Zibanejad is a top prospect, but Jonas Brodin isn’t too shabby himself.
This year, I had my flag planted towards Red Deer Rebels defenseman Mathew Dumba, a defensive prospect with amazing tools to go with nice leadership skills, and from what I’d been convinced (from people’s writing, not my own ocular observations) good hockey sense to boot. Of course, after disappointment I’ve had the last two years, I’ve told myself over and over again that Dumba would disappear between picks 4-6, with the confidence that the Wild’s scouting staff would snap up a good player regardless.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Every Wild fan should be excited about Dumba. Never before has the Wild had a defensive prospect that was this electrifying, except maybe Brent Burns, who was a forward upon being drafted. Marco Scandella has had the tools, but upon his drafting he was very raw, and he’ll still need development in order to achieve his potential. Brodin is a phenomenal defender, for sure, and he has the potential to control the game, but Dumba has the skills and physicality to influence the game in ways that Brodin can’t.
Yes he’s unproven, but so are most of the guys who were drafted. Yes, he’s probably spending next year in Red Deer, but only a handful of guys make it to the NHL each year, and most of them are forwards. Yes, he’ll need to add muscle. Most draft picks do. But for now, be excited that we have a high-upside player with good character that marries his skills with a need for a dynamic prospect like him, you have to be doing backflips. Hats off to Fletcher and Flahr.
I want to nip detractors in the bud right now. Yes, Filip Forsberg was on the board when the Wild were picking. Yes, Forsberg was considered by a lot of people to be a top 5 player. Forsberg will likely be a very good player in the league. But between Dumba and Forsberg, the Wild couldn’t go wrong. Forsberg doesn’t have elite skills like Dumba has, even if he’s a very good and very safe prospect, and the package that Dumba brings to the blueline is hard to pass up, especially for a team that had one bluechip blueliner.
As to those who wanted the Wild to trade down, I hear you. It might have been better to accumulate more picks. But I’m behind the move to stand pat at 7. When you have options like the Wild had, you dictate your fate instead of praying other guys let your first choice fall further. Also, I doubt the Wild would have been able to trade back to a spot they would like for the same reason they didn’t trade up to, say, 5. Just as the Wild were guaranteed to pick one of Dumba, Grigorenko, and Forsberg after the Islanders drafted Reinhart, a team like, say, Tampa Bay was guaranteed to have a guy they liked (in this case, FRB darling and awesomely-named Slater Koekkoek) available to them. Teuvo Teravainen was available at 18. There just didn’t seem to be a huge urge on anyone’s part to move up in the draft.
Some other thoughts about the draft:
* Flahr is a master. I love him. His draft table running should have him in the running for a GM spot somewhere, but I hope he never leaves. Also, I heart our scouts.
* At 7th, the Wild had their choice of Mathew Dumba, whom we’ve talked about, highly touted power forward prospects Filip Forsberg and Radek Faksa, the immensely big and skilled Mikhail Grigorenko, and dynamic Teuvo Teravainen. Keep this in mind the next time you get pissed at your team for winning meaningless games down the stretch. I know I will.
* Jordan Staal’s trade be crazy. The Wild was right to not make a deal that beat the haul Carolina gave up. What kind of package would the Wild have had to put out to top that? Scandella, Phillips, and the #7? Staal’s a proven player and everything, but man, that just seems all kinds of steep. Pittsburgh completely revamped their blueline the same way Minnesota revamped their forward corps by trading Burns last year. The good times keep coming in Pittsburgh.
*The Caps scooped up Forsberg, the Sabres collected Grigorenko and Girgensons, the Stars snagged Faksa, and the Blackhawks got Teravainen. Amazing value. I especially like Forsberg to the Caps. A gritty guy with skill is just what the doctor ordered for them.
*The Wild weren’t the only ones productive during draft time. I’m on the verge of defeating Blaine for my VolcanoBadge, got my 60th Pokemon in my Pokedex (including Mew, bitches!), and my team of Venusaur, Ninetales, Hypno, Tauros, Starmie, and Jolteon is primed to win an Elite Four Championship. I will be encapsulating them en masse.
*However, it was a less successful day for my Hockey Wilderness Mock Draft Contest entry. Not only did it not technically qualify as an official entry, it was destroyed at #2 by my mocking Forsberg to the BJs, and the run of llamas at the end of the first round never coming. I did, however, nail the Dumba pick, and I was the only one to get the most important pick right. So, I kinda won, right?
UPDATE: With the Wild’s history of trading up, and their quality over quantity philosophy concerning picks from Rounds 2-4. I’d like to see them swap a second and a third or fourth to move up to get one of three Swedes: Sebastian Collberg, Pontus Aberg, or Ludvig Bystrom. I wouldn’t be at all surprised or disappointed if the Wild kept reloading with skill guys who are tested against men.