2012 NHL Draft: A Way Too Early Minnesota Draftee Postmortem

The 2012 NHL Draft has drawn to a close with the Minnesota Wild selecting six more players to add to their growing prospect pool (the full list of draft picks is here). While this year's edition did not have the excitement or trades of past Chuck Fletcher Drafts - the Wild stood pat for the first time since 2004 - there was still a rhyme and reason to it similar to last year.

Ladies and gentlemen, your top two Wild Draftees this year...

We'll go more in-depth about the 2012 Minnesota Wild Draft Class as the week goes on but for now here are some high and low points.

-It goes without saying in the NHL Draft but the team is drafting for 2, 3, 6 years down the line. The Wild have their share of problems at the NHL level and are hoping to fix those through free agency or trade. Even now as much as the top 4 guys two years ago are hyped, it is only now that they are getting their chance in Houston and St. Paul. It's not the NFL or NBA.

This is especially true after the top two picks of Mathew Dumba and Raphael Bussieres. With six guys making the jump to the AHL/NHL this year, another 3-4 on their way in 2013 and only a finite number of contracts, there is time for these prospects to develop. 

We're seeing it with prospects being drafted who are attending college. Guys like Adam Gilmour (Boston College in 2013), John Draeger (Michigan State this fall according to their press release) and Louie Nanne (Minnesota in 2013) all fit that mold and will have 4-5 years to develop before being signed. It's similar to last year's Day 2 picks where 3 of the 4 were college players and as of this writing only 1 (Stephen Michalek) has played a game on campus.

-The more time goes by, the more I like the Dumba pick. It's a combination of solving problems while fitting into system and being one of the top-2 on the board. While he shares similarities with the top draft choice last year, Jonas Brodin, like skating, work ethic and even being younger guys in the Draft (both have July birthdays), Dumba is also more physical and offensive. It complements Brodin - bringing up the question of whether Matt would have been drafted if someone like say Ryan Murphy was Fletcher's choice at #10 - but also gives Minnesota a player in their pool who is capable of being a gamechanger from the blue line.

-Size was a concern with Minnesota being pushed around on both pro levels last season but the four picks following the 5'11.5" Dumba were 6'1", 195 lbs; 6'2", 185 lbs; 6'2", 195 lbs and 6'4, 207 lbs.

-Minnesota's newest first round...pick was on KFAN yesterday, which can be listened to here. Wild.com also did a great job with their access this weekend and have features and video on the various draftees up on their site.

-Bussieres is an intriguing pick at #46 in the realm of Brett Bulmer two years ago. He rose and fell in the rankings along with the Baie Cormeau team (who were just decimated in the Q postseason by Saint John after upsetting Victoriaville in the first round) and at one point was ranked as the 11th-best prospect. Despite that, Raphael brings physicality and scoring like a Milan Lucic. An injury hurt him in the second half, however, and the inconsistency saw him drop. There is skill there but more than anyone Bussieres is Fletcher's first attempt at a true talent over issues player.

It is also a little frustrating that between #37 and #46 Pontus Aberg, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Ludvig Bystrom and Jake McCabe were all selected. That's the way the chips fall sometimes.

-The Wild took a couple hidden gems in the middle rounds with John Draeger and Adam Gilmour. Dan especially is very high on Draeger, who he has seen a few times at Shattuck, and wrote "John Draeger’s been a rock for the same Shattuck squad that Zach Stepan plays for. The rugged 6’2" defenseman will likely play a more stay-at-home role at the next level, but makes life difficult for the opposition. His skating has improved as the season has gone on" in the Wild Prospect Handbook.

Dan Chan of Hockey Wilderness, who scouts in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, meanwhile is a giant fan of Gilmour.
My first viewing of this kid I came away thinking he’s okay, has good size, skated well, and made simple plays. He showed off solid skating, a good forechecking game and was responsible in both ends, good enough for late round consideration. But in the next few games I saw him, he started to display some creativity and impressive stick skills.
>-For the first time since 2007, the team did not draft a goalie in the sixth round.

-Something that caught my eye is the number of right-handed shots Fletcher and Flahr took. 5 of the 7 draft picks (all but Bussieres and Louie Nanne) shoot right. There aren't as many in the system and with a defense who heavily shoot left (between trading Marek Zidlicky and getting Tom Gilbert there were nights where 5 of the 6 defensemen were left hand shots), picking up 3 will help.

-Minnesotan provincials can be pleased with a pair of players from the State of Hockey on Day 2. I know that many people feel the Nanne pick was a PR move at its worst by Minnesota (others like Tampa in 2008 with David Carle have done it)with the famous hockey last name and father who is a Wild scout. He's also the big name to come out with mainstream media but lets face it, if we here at First Round Bust can barely give analysis during the seventh round, what do you expect? At least it's not Anthony LaPanta mispronouncing Brady Skjei despite formerly being the Gopher hockey announcer and knowing little about the Wild's interests despite being their announcer.

The point is that while it would be nice to hear and read more discussion on the benefits of drafting Raphael Bussieres or taking an overage Swedish defender in the fifth round, Minnesota hockey analysis is heavily skewed towards Minnesotans.

So while there are a few other Wild-related things along with the Godfather of Minnesota hockey Lou Nanne meeting with Craig Leipold and his related Parise message that don't pass the smell test, the fact is that they did draft a player at his CSS ranking spot. Will Louie have to work harder than other seventh-rounders because of his name? Yes. However, that's always the case with someone who has a famous last name. Some coast and others use it to fuel them - one of hardest working students I've met covering the Gophers has a famous last name and could easily coast on it yet doesn't.

I've never met Louie Nanne and can't say what kind of person he is. What I can say is that hockey-wise he will take time - remember that another University of Minnesota 7th round pick by Minnesota who is exceeding expectations is only doing so three years after being drafted and a year in the USHL. So give Nanne that.

-Finally if you are so inclined, you can follow five of the seven draftees on Twitter. Bussieres is @ralphybuss, John Draeger is @johnnydraegs7, Adam Gilmour is @adgilmour12, Daniel Gunnarsson is @danielgunnars1 and Louie Nanne is @lounanne11. There are already such gems as:

(Betting very fast that Raphael learns how to spell M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A.)

1 comment:

  1. Good luck to all the Wild draftees, of course. But particular good thoughts to Louie Nanne. Don't let the haters get you down. What *you* do will determine your future --go out there and take it.