The Minnesota Wild have selected a defenseman in the first round in three of the four drafts with Chuck Fletcher at the helm.
The second general manager in team history built up the offensive prospect pool, and in the last couple years has developed young depth at all levels of the organization.
That depth allowed the team to trade some of its prospects last season.
The Wild still has one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, but it will not stop the team from trying to select the best players available with their picks in the draft.
“It’s an on going process and the good teams have quality players coming in at all times.” said Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr at the team’s draft preview press conference. “The draft is going to be a continued priority for us.”
Final Central Scouting Service North American Defensemen
No. 1 – Seth Jones, Portland (WHL). “Seth is a big, rangy defenseman who has a nice command of his shifts. He has the ability to be a game-changer because he has good instincts and awareness. He’s an underrated passer, possesses solid one-on-one play and can skate the puck out of danger at any time. He’s already the complete package, but I get the feeling he still has another gear to go to.” – B.J. MacDonald of NHL Central Scouting
No. 2 – Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). “He’s the kind of guy who is not going to make a lot of mistakes. He’s steady and solid, and you can trust him out there. Anytime you get a guy his size, who skates as well as he does and plays a physical game, it’s fun to watch.” – Chris Edwards of NHL Central Scouting
No. 3 – Mirco Mueller, Everett (WHL). “There isn’t any situation that he doesn’t play through or play well through. His hockey sense, read and anticipation and the way he reacts to the play, are great…he’s so quick.” – Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting
No. 4 – Shea Theodore, Seattle (WHL). “Smooth as silk. He’s a really nice player. He can lay down a pass just as good as anyone in the league, always on the tape. He’s really heady and really smart, and he actually runs their power play. I like everything about him. Good size, good movement.” – B.J. MacDonald of Central Scouting
No. 5 – Ryan Pulock, Brandon (WHL). “He does everything well. He’s got the hardest shot I’ve seen in years. He’s so smart. The thing that’s even more impressive is I’ve seen him take seven or eight super hits, body checks and hip checks, laying guys into the board. He’s got all the tools to be a top pick.” – Peter Sullivan of NHL Central Scouting
Final Central Scouting Service European Defensemen
No. 1 – Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS (Finland). “Ristolainen is a mobile defenseman who is effective in the transition game and not out of place offensively. He does a good job of identifying passing lanes and also has the ability to jump into the rush when he sees the opportunity. How much upside Ristolainen ultimately has is a question mark, but at this point he looks like a safe bet to be a long-term Top 4 defenseman at minimum.” – The Scouting Report
No. 2 – Robert Hagg, Modo Jr. (Sweden Jr.). “Quarterbacks the power play and is on the ice in all critical situations. Shoots the puck extremely well and is a very good skater.” International Scouting Service via Twitter
No. 3 – Linus Arnesson, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden Jr.). “He is a big, mobile defenseman that just shuts down the opposition. He is not overly gifted in the offensive zone, yet plays smart with the puck, makes good breakout passes, and tough to beat on the defensive side.” Russ Bitely from the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp
No. 4 – Wilhelm Westlund, Farjestad Jr. (Sweden Jr.). “Solid defense-first player who plays all phases very well, but not an elite offensive standout. Average sized player with a more simple game that effectively gets his team out of trouble with good decision-making and the clean outlet pass.” Bill Placzek of DraftSite.com
No. 5 – Andrei Mironov, MVD Balashikha 2 (Russia Jr.). “Positionally sound and plays with an edge that makes him a perfect candidate for import from across the pond, but is still under contract in the KHL.” Bill Placzek of DraftSite.com