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Updates on All the Minnesota Wild's Top Draft Picks from the Past 10 Years

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IJune 18, 2013

Updates on All the Minnesota Wild's Top Draft Picks from the Past 10 Years

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    This is by no means a comprehensive list of players drafted by the Minnesota Wild from 2002 to 2012, nor are the players ranked against one another.

    It is simply a look at how the Wild have drafted over the past 10 years. In general, you will find that Minnesota has gotten progressively better at drafting as the years went on and there are some really bleak times in the mid-2000s where just about everyone they drafted was a dud.

    Because the 2000 and 2001 drafts are not included, guys like Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu and Derek Boogaard are nowhere to be found…but we all kind of know how those guys turned out.

    In addition to listing the top players drafted from 2002-12 (typically the first- and second-round guys), I have provided their career stats, where they are now (or highest level reached) and players the team could have drafted instead with that pick (and, yes, I realize hindsight is 20/20). I also provided a letter grade for each pick.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard (No. 8, 2002)

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    Career stats: 565 games played, 106 goals, 347 points, 178 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild (free agent)

    Also available: Keith Ballard, Alexander Semin and Cam Ward

    Bouchard’s numbers probably would have been higher had he not suffered a serious concussion in his prime and, really, the Wild cannot be blamed for that. They handled the situation well and at this point, Butch looks like a second-line forward at best, a speed guy on the third line at worst.

    He is a playmaker at heart that can also score and has provided plenty for the Wild during his stay in St. Paul.

     

    Grade: B+

Josh Harding (No. 38, 2002)

3 of 26

    Career stats: 122 games played, 42-52-0-8 record, 7 SO, .915 save %, 2.67 GAA

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Trevor Daley, Matt Greene and Duncan Keith

    Like Bouchard, Harding suffered from a serious medical ailment and would have been better if he was not suffering from multiple sclerosis. Again, there is nothing the team could do about this—especially because it is not hockey-related—and they’ve done the best they can to accommodate him.

    A backup for most of his career, Harding stepped up at playoff time this season and provided an inspirational story for all of us. His Bill Masterson Trophy is greatly deserved.

     

    Grade: B

Brent Burns (No. 20, 2003)

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    Career stats: 564 games played, 75 goals, 240 points, 379 PIM

    Current team: San Jose Sharks

    Also available: Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry

    In a stacked draft that featured Thomas Vanek, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise and Ryan Getzlaf on top and guys like Joe Pavelski, Dustin Byfuglien and Brian Elliott at the bottom, the Wild did just fine with Burns.

    An offensive-minded defenseman that was drafted as a right wing, Burns provided plenty of firepower from the back end and quickly became a fan favorite.

    Unfortunately, poor scouting in the next three drafts meant he didn’t have much of a team around him (especially when Marian Gaborik left) and Minnesota was forced to trade him to the Sharks in order to add offensive depth.

     

    Grade: A

Patrick O’Sullivan (No. 56, 2003)

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    Career stats: 334 games played, 58 goals, 161 points, 116 PIM

    Current team: HIFK (SM-Liiga)

    Also available: David Backes and Jimmy Howard

    O’Sullivan has an interesting story. He was born in Toronto but raised in North Carolina. His father John was a minor league hockey player that abused Patrick from age 9 until he reached the OHL, when he finally placed a restraining order on him.

    After overcoming his issues at home, he was drafted by the Wild, spent four years with the Mississauga IceDogs and then bounced around the NHL a bit, playing with the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes before a brief stint with the Wild and a grand finale with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2011-12.

    He spent most of the Minnesota and Phoenix years in the AHL and recently signed with a Finnish team in what is likely the final chapter of his hockey career.

     

    Grade: B

A.J. Thelen (No. 12, 2004)

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    Career stats: Did not play in NHL

    Highest level: AHL (2009-10)

    Also available: Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac and Mike Green

    I really want to know what Thelen is doing now. He could be just sitting at home, playing Tomb Raider on his Xbox. Perhaps is sitting in a classroom at Michigan State, working towards his degree. Maybe he is working at Burger King, spitting in your onion rings.

    Whatever it is, he is not playing professional hockey any more.

    It’s a sad story. Thelen was named the best offensive defenseman in the CCHA in his freshman season for the Spartans, played one more year at Michigan State and then joined the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.

    He played one game with the Houston Aeros, started the next season in Prince Albert and then won the Memorial Cup with the Vancouver Giants in 2007.

    He did not sign with the Wild out of junior, bounced around the ECHL, suffered multiple concussions and called it a career having only played 10 games in the AHL and none at the game’s highest level.

    He last played in 2010-11.

    It could have been a great story. Thelen was a Savage, Minn., native and at 27 would be in his prime right now.

     

    Grade: F

Clayton Stoner (No. 79, 2004)

7 of 26

    Career stats: 164 games played, 3 goals, 26 points, 212 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Alexander Edler and Johan Franzen

    After the mighty 2003 draft, 2004 was quite a letdown. Cam Barker went No. 3 overall (remember him?), Al Montoya went No. 6 and Boris Valabik went No. 10.

    There were some nice later picks like Mike Green (No. 29), Pekka Rinne (No. 258) and Mark Streit (No. 262), but in general it was pretty barren.

    Edler and Franzen were nice picks, but the Wild should be happy with Stoner. Hey, he’s still in the league and provides some defensive depth.

    There’s nothing too special about him, except his “college-kid friendly” last name, but it’s about what you expect from a third-round guy.

     

    Grade: B

Anton Khudobin (No. 206, 2004)

8 of 26

    Career stats: 21 games played, 14-5-1, 2 SO, .920 save%, 2.32 GAA

    Current team: Boston Bruins

    Also available: Troy Brouwer and Chris Campoli

    Khudobin has been a backup goaltender for most of his career and has seen most of his playing time come in the AHL. He still has a NHL job, however, and went 4-1-0 as a member of the Wild.

     

    Grade: C

Benoit Pouliot (No. 4, 2005)

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    Career stats: 291 games played, 61 goals, 124 points, 201 PIM

    Current team: Tampa Bay Lightning

    Also available: Carey Price, Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal

    The Wild absolutely butchered the 2005 draft.

    They couldn’t get their hands on the consensus top 3 guys—Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan and Jack Johnson—so they went with a need: offense.

    Pouliot scored only nine goals in 65 games for the Wild before being dealt for Guillaume Latendresse in the 2009-10 season. He was a bit more productive in his stops with the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but he was never worthy of a top 5 pick.

    Aside from Gaborik, who was chosen No. 3 overall, Pouliot is the highest drafted player in Wild history…

     

    Grade: D

Matt Kassian (No. 57, 2005)

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    Career stats: 43 games played, 3 goals, 3 points, 114 PIM

    Current team: Ottawa Senators

    Also available: Kris Letang and Jonathan Quick

    Kassian still has time to prove himself, but the 26-year-old former Vancouver Giant and Kamloops Blazer (WHL) enters his prime with only three goals to his name.

    There wasn’t much available when he was chosen, but the Wild certainly would rather have Letang or Quick right now.

     

    Grade: C-

James Sheppard (No. 9, 2006)

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    Career stats: 256 games played, 12 goals, 53 points, 120 PIM

    Current team: San Jose Sharks

    Also available: Michael Frolik, Michael Grabner and Claude Giroux

    Sheppard has always had a job in the NHL based on his perceived upside.

    He went directly from Cape Breton to St. Paul in 2007-08 and played 78 games that year. He never played in Houston despite scoring only 11 goals in 224 games as a member of the Wild.

    Sheppard spent four games with San Jose’s minor league team in Worcester, Mass., in 2011-12 after being traded, but played in 32 games for the Sharks this season despite never scoring a goal in the minor leagues and only finding the back of the net once in Northern California.

    Maybe Sheppard will have a breakout year and remind us all of why he has gotten so much playing time in the NHL, but until that happens, the fact that he has always had a NHL job will leave most of us scratching our heads.

     

    Grade: C

Cal Clutterbuck (No. 72, 2006)

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    Career stats: 346 games played, 62 goals, 110 points, 337 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: James Reimer

    Clutterbuck was a great find in the middle of the 2006 draft. What he provides to the team cannot really be justified on a stat sheet, as he is a physical player that creates space so other players can fill up the scoring columns.

    Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, two nice finds by the Boston Bruins, were off the board at this time and you have to go into the fourth round before you find anyone you would recognize (James Reimer, a mediocre goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs).

    As much as it is easy to bash the Wild’s draft picks in the mid-2000s, this was a great find.

     

    Grade: A

Colton Gillies (No. 16, 2007)

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    Career stats: 154 games played, 6 goals, 18 points, 72 PIM

    Current team: Columbus Blue Jackets

    Also available: Max Pacioretty, Ryan McDonough and David Perron

    The 2007 draft was pretty poor in general. The No. 1 overall selection, Patrick Kane, turned out all right, Kyle Turris (No. 3) is decent and Logan Couture (No. 9) looks like a bona fide superstar, but otherwise this draft was very weak.

    The jury is still out on James van Riemsdyk and Jonathan Blum and the three players listed above are quality NHL guys, but you can’t blame the Wild for missing in this draft.

    Gilles scored three goals in 89 games for the Wild and was picked up by the Blue Jackets midway through the 2011-12 season.

    They are probably banking that the former first-rounder will turn into something, but he has only scored three times for them in the past two seasons and likely will wash out in the next few years.

     

    Grade: C-

Justin Falk (No. 110, 2007)

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    Career stats: 108 games played, 1 goal, 15 points, 100 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Keith Aulie and Jamie Benn

    It’s too early to label Falk, especially because his size (6’5”, 215 pounds), could come in handy down the road, but right now the 27-year-old blueliner looks like a project at best.

    Dallas did their homework with Benn, but otherwise there was not much on the board, so the fact that Falk still has a chance in the NHL means that the Wild did all right with this pick.

     

    Grade: C+

Tyler Cuma (No. 23, 2008)

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    Career stats: 1 game played, 0 goals, 0 points, 2 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Tyler Ennis and John Carlson

    In 2008, the Wild were in the unfortunate position of having to pick right after Michael Del Zotto (No. 20 overall) and Jordan Eberle (No. 22) were selected. Still, it’s a little perplexing why Cuma hasn’t seized the opportunity to play on a team that has been very liberal in the minutes it gives young defensemen.

    There is still time for the 23-year-old to make a name for himself, but with guys like Marco Scandella, Justin Falk and Jonas Brodin getting time over him, the organization may go in a different direction.

     

    Grade: C

Marco Scandella (No. 55, 2008)

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    Career stats: 89 games played, 4 goals, 15 points, 25 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Danny Kristo and Adam Henrique

    Speak of the devil: Scandella spent most of the year in the minors, but he came up and played well in Minnesota’s first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    The 23-year-old Quebec native appears to be part of the Wild’s future, as the defenseman just re-upped for two years on Monday.

     

    Grade: A

Nick Leddy (No. 16, 2009)

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    Career stats: 176 games played, 13 goals, 62 points, 24 PIM

    Current team: Chicago Blackhawks

    Also available: Chris Kreider, Jordan Schroeder and Kyle Palmieri

    Unfortunately, every time Leddy scores for the Blackhawks or knocks an opponent off the puck, Wild fans will always associate his name with one of the worst trades in team history.

    On Feb. 12, 2010, Leddy was traded with Kim Johnsson for Cam Barker.

    Barker could barely skate and was waived in June 2011. Leddy is a rising star in Chicago.

    Minnesota got hustled.

     

    Grade: A (for the selection)

Matt Hackett (No. 77, 2009)

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    Career stats: 13 games played, 3-7-0 record, 0 SO, .848 save%, 5.08 GAA

    Current team: Buffalo Sabres

    Also available: Nobody of note

    Unlike Leddy, Hackett’s name will be associated with a good trade.

    In need of a forward to put alongside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, the Wild traded Hackett and Johan Larsson, along with a first- and second-round pick, for former Buffalo captain Jason Pominville.

    Pominville is still under contract for this season, meaning he is more than a rental, and he provided an offensive spark right away for the Wild.

    Had Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings not injured him late in the season, Pominville likely would have been an impact player down the stretch and into the postseason.

     

    Grade: B-

Darcy Kuemper (No. 161, 2009)

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    Career stats: 6 games played, 1-2-0, 0 SO, .916 save%, 2.08 GAA

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Nobody of note

    Playing for the Wild at the end of the season and in the first round against Chicago was probably a mixed blessing for Kuemper.

    On one hand, he got to play on a NHL team shortly after coming out of junior and has some playoff experience under his belt, but it was also exposed that he was not ready for big-time hockey just yet.

    It’s hard to expect a sixth-rounder to come in and shut things down immediately, but it looks like Minnesota will have to find another goaltender to be the starter in the immediate future.

     

    Grade: B

Mikael Granlund (No. 9, 2010)

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    Career stats: 27 games played, 2 goals, 8 points, 6 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Cam Fowler, Jaden Schwartz and Emerson Etem (Sharks chose Charlie Coyle in the first round, too)

    Everything appeared to be set up for Granlund to succeed this year: He was not rushed to join the team early, got to play on the second line behind Mikko Koivu and did not have the pressure of being in the spotlight because Minnesota had just signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

    When he scored his first career goal on opening night, everyone felt it would be a special year for Mr. Granlund. Instead, he would only find the net one more time during the season and was outplayed by fellow rookies Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker throughout the year.

    There’s still time for the 21-year-old Finn to find his way in Minnesota, but a lot is expected of him because he was drafted so high.

     

    Grade: B

Johan Larsson (No. 56, 2010)

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    Career stats: 1 game played, 0 goals, 0 points, 0 PIM

    Current team: Buffalo Sabres

    Also available: Nobody of note

    Who knows how Larsson will turn out, but fans in Minnesota secretly hope he doesn’t become a franchise player in Buffalo. Either way, the Pominville pickup was a nice move and worth trading a prospect like Larsson for.

     

    Grade: Incomplete

Jason Zucker (No. 59, 2010)

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    Career stats: 20 games played, 4 goals, 5 points, 8 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Nobody of note

    I’m a sucker for Zucker.

    This guy jumped in and played with no entitlement. Even though he was a late second-rounder getting more playing time than most of his peers, he was a puck hound that took care of business in his own end.

    He’s Parise-lite in my mind. This was an incredible pick.

     

    Grade: A

Jonas Brodin (No. 10, 2011)

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    Career stats: 45 games played, 2 goals, 11 points, 10 PIM

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Nobody of note

    Even better than the Zucker pick? Nabbing Brodin at No. 10 in 2011.

    This guy literally jumped in and looked like a veteran alongside superstar teammate Ryan Suter. The numbers don’t do him justice and neither did the voters, who passed on him for the Calder despite his ability to keep opponents away from the net all season long.

    Brodin is going to be a great player for a long time.

     

    Grade: A++++++++++++++

Zack Phillips (No. 28, 2011)

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    Career stats: Has not played an NHL game

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Nobody of note

    I meant no offense to Phillips by saying that nobody of note was selected after Brodin, but it’s hard to judge that when most of these guys have yet to play a NHL game.

    Phillips gets a little lost because he did not jump in and play right away like Brodin, Coyle, Zucker and Granlund, but he is coming along just fine.

    The former Saint John Sea Dog (QMJHL) had 8 goals and 27 points in 71 games for the Houston Aeros last season and is expected to join the Wild in the near future.

     

    Grade: Incomplete

Mathew Dumba (No. 7, 2012)

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    Career stats: Has not played an NHL game

    Current team: Minnesota Wild

    Also available: Nobody of note

    Dumba spent last season with Red Deer in the WHL and put up 20 goals and 57 points in 69 games as a defenseman.

    Safe to say, it’s going to be exciting when this guy finally arrives in St. Paul.

     

    Grade: Incomplete

Conclusion

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    The Wild have progressively gotten better at drafting. There were some bleak years in the mid-2000s, but recently Minnesota has been killing it.

    Adding Parise and Suter was huge, but even more important is how these young guys fill in behind them. The best teams in the league tend to draft well and the Wild must continue to do so in order to bring the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey.

     

    Tom Schreier covers Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports.

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