We have arrived at Draft Week, 2011.
Today was relatively quiet as far as events go, but the Wild did host its annual media Draft luncheon at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub this afternoon. General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr were the featured guests, and both dealt with extensive questioning from the media bottom feeders.
To see what Chuck Fletcher had to say, click here.
The Draft luncheon is always an interesting event, just because most of what the GM and Assistant GM say is pretty uninteresting. For the 11th straight year, we were not allowed to see the team’s Draft list prior to the actual event. Maybe next year.
They’re also aren’t any comments on specific players, although Flahr did let it slip that he doesn’t expect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to be available at number 10.
What Fletcher and Flahr did say was that this is a fairly deep Draft with about 50 players that could be considered top end talent. The Wild only has one pick in the top 50 as it stands right now, but there’s a chance that could change, or there’s a chance one of those 50 players on the Wild’s list drops down to the third round.
“Last year, our Top 50 covered our first five picks,” said Fletcher. “I expect we’ll get two or three [this year].”
As usual, there were also questions about the crop of Minnesotans available. Unlike last year, there isn’t a Minnesota projected to go early in the first round, but that’s not to say the Wild aren’t interested in the likes of Seth Ambroz and Mario Lucia, who Flahr called “very different players.”
Fletcher also shed some light on last year’s Draft and said the club pushed hard to make a trade in the first round to move up and grab a Minnesota kid (one would think that may have been Nick Bjugstad), and he also said a Minnesotan that was coveted by the Wild was taken two spots ahead of one of their second round picks. South St. Paul stud defenseman Justin Faulk was taken two slots ahead of Brett Bulmer who went 39th overall, and Minnetonka’s Justin Holl went two spots ahead of Johan Larsson at 56th overall.
Of course, the Wild brass is pretty happy with how last year’s Draft turned out, especially with their top four picks. Fletcher said a good Draft yields two quality NHL players and if you get four, then you’re going to gain ground on other teams. It’s too early to tell how last year’s Draft can be measured, but it’s clear they feel good about it so far.
When the Draft talk subsided, Fletcher talked about some other topics. He said Guillaume Latendresse is on track to make a full recovery from his abdominal injuries and is expected to be ready to go for training camp. He also said Martin Havlat underwent shoulder surgery following his injury at the World Championships, but he also should be good to go come September.