Tag Archives: Brent Flahr

Draft Week Kicks Off With Media Luncheon

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.



Finland Day Two

Hello again from Helsinki!

It was a great day here for Day Two, with a lot of action and a lot of hockey. This morning, the Wild players shook off the cobwebs for the first practice of the trip, which was held in the practice rink underneath Hartwall Areena, where the team will play Carolina on Thursday and Friday.

Rink might be stretching what this place was actually like. The ceilings and walls are like rock, and in parts, stick out over the ice surface. It didn’t seem to bother the players, who seemed to enjoy the up-tempo practice.

It wasn’t official at the time of practice, but the Wild did confirm the signing of goaltender Jose Theodore later in the day. Theodore will join the team next week, which means he missed out on the team’s trip to Sauna Island this afternoon. It was a player and coach-only event, and I’m doubting we’ll find out too much about all that went on, but I’ll challenge my inner-Mike Russo to try and dig up some dirt.

The entire front office staff, including owner Craig Leipold, GM Chuck Fletcher and Assistant GM Brent Flahr, took in tonight’s Finnish Elite League Game between H.I.F.K. Helsinki and Assat. Mikael Granlund, the Wild’s first round pick last year, plays for H.I.F.K. and he put on a show for his future employers. He finished the night with a goal and three assists and was named the game’s Second Star after his club bulldozed to an 11-3 victory.

This one wasn’t as close as the score indicated as Assat didn’t appear to even be in the same class. They had no answer for Granlund and his Finnish superstar linemate, Ville Peltonen. As for Granlund, he’s going to be a good one. He’s still just a kid playing with adults, but he always seems to be in the right spot, make the right play and he gets to the net. That’s how he scored his goal, parking himself in front and tipping a high shot as it whizzed by.

Russo and I spoke to a 16-year-old Granlund fan named Tuomas, who wore his number 64 jersey. The youngster says Granlund “will be one of the most talented Finnish players ever when he is older.” He was a great interview, and you can see that on Wild.com later as well.

We had the chance to talk to Mikael after the game, and that and some highlights will be posted on Wild.com later today.

What an atmosphere! The crowd, especially in the corner where we were seated, were singing, chanting, dancing, clapping and waving flags for the entire game. The only time they weren’t going crazy was during the intermissions, when the arena nearly empties out completely. My only complaint was that every time Assat took a penalty, the song “Bad to the Bone” would play. It didn’t help that Assat took roughly 134 penalties in this game. Other than that, it was an amazing experience, and truly an atmosphere I’ve never had the chance to see. I’m already excited for Monday’s exhibition in Tampere, which by the way is pronounced “Tam-pear-ah.”

There were some fights in this one as well, which from what I understand, is not all that common in Finnish games. Assat started getting pretty chippy, especially when it was clear a blowout was going to happen.

Keep an eye out on Wild.com for more on Granlund, and plenty of video in the next few hours. Since I’m told I’m getting some bad information on my Finnish translations, I will just say “talk to you later.” It only makes sense, because I’ve hardly run into anybody here that doesn’t speak English.