Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub was packed with members of the media as Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Assistant GM Brent Flahr answered questions about the 2012 NHL Entry Draft June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.
The pair spoke at length covering many topics, ranging from their mentality heading into draft day to the Wild’s past picks set to turn pro next season. You can listen to a PONDcast of the entire press conference, here. Wild TV will have a shorter video, including interviews with Fletcher and Flahr, later today.
An interesting – verging on Zen – statement Flahr made was about the Wild’s current standing in the first round with the seventh overall pick. He said the team has a draft board with the players they like, but, essentially, they are still “at the mercy of teams in front of you.” Basically if you have your eye on a player, but someone else gobbles him up, well, move on. who’s the next best guy on our list?
The strategy is working out like well-planned game of chess, because the prospects turning pro next season are looking much more like knights and rooks than pawns. However, the Wild brass isn’t sitting back on past drafts and plans to keep adding valuable pieces.
If the history of the draft tells us anything, Fletcher thinks a team is “ahead of the curve” if they are able to pick up three NHL players in a single draft. Obviously, the Wild’s best shot at picking up some top end talent is with its seventh overall pick. Fletcher thought the high-end talent might not be as good this season, but Flahr thinks there is a lot of future NHLers in the top 30. Just don’t expect them to take a goalie in the first round, as Fletcher joked he’d fall off his chair if they tried to select a goalie at number seven.
Although Fletcher downplayed any inklings of making a big move, last year’s draft showed he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a draft day deal. On day one, the Wild made a big splash acquiring Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and the 28th pick (which the Wild used to select Zack Phillips) from the San Jose Sharks. On day two, the Wild moved up to acquired Mario Lucia (check out today’s Wild.com feature on Lucia, here). So there is always the chance the Wild will be wheeling and dealing.
When asked if his connections with the host city – where he served as the Penguins’ Assistant GM – to pull off another draft day blockbuster, Fletcher joked it would probably only help with dinner reservations. It’s always great to see a moment of levity from an NHL GM a week prior to one of his most stressful days.