On Justin Schultz, Or The Art Of The Deal

Here we are, on the morning of the eve of the culmination of the Justin Schultz Sweepstakes, and it seems as if we Minnesota Wild fans have a a bit more investment in the entire boondoggle than before. We're on the "short list"- the mythical list of suitors deemed worthy enough of peddling our wares and ideologies to the now NCAA free agent in hopes of well, recruiting him into an Iron Range Red jersey.

There's been much made about the entire situation- Schultz, by and large considered an elite prospect, used a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to escape the chains of Anaheim's control, who took him in the Second Round in 2008.  Basically a lock to play for The Ducks as soon as his season ended at Wisconsin, Schultz ultimately put the brakes on the jump and now here we are. As this has gone on, there's been some character assassination attempts, particularly from principals in the Anaheim organization, and despite Mike Eaves' insistence that Schultz is a quality kid, he's now been tagged with the labels of "diva" and "prima donna" for essentially gaining control of where he'll play in the National Hockey League.

Is that wrong? This isn't an Eric Lindros situation where he flat out refused to go Anaheim, which by all accounts is a great place to play. The loophole is right there, available to EVERY NCAA player who is a property of an NHL club, and he exercised his right to use it.

Which brings us to the present juncture. The Wild did have a face to face meeting with Schultz and tried to sell their bill of goods. I imagine the sales pitch went something like this; we've got 7 high profile prospects turning pro, which means the future is bright. We've also got a good core of veterans to offset and mentor the incoming youth. You're familiar with playing in front of <s>HUGE</s> big raucous crowds at The Xcel Energy Center, and which St. Paul in general. We've got two former Badgers on roster, hoping to sign a third in Ryan Suter. We've got coaches in the system who have NHL experience and relish teaching young players just as much as they do winning. Most importantly, there is not another player with your skill set in our organizational pipeline, with exception of the recently drafted Matt Dumba. A good sized, mobile, right shot offensive defenseman who can control play, and we feel that you would be a great fit with what we're trying to do here, be a perennial Stanley Cup Contender for an indefinite amount of time.

Then Chuck Fletcher plays a rap video of him and Brent Flahr singing "Boats N Hoes."

I've long felt that Justin Schultz is/was a top three Free Agent priority, maybe even above Zach Parise- sure, Parise will bring buzz, but when you look at the sort of commodity Schultz is, and that he'll be under team control for the next few years with his best years still ahead of him, that makes him very attractive. We flat out don't have a player like him on the depth chart. I'd take him in a heart beat.

Regardless of the outcome, Schultz will likely still be vilified for how this has transpired, subject to resentment from some. That being said, the GM who gets him to sign on the dotted line will get praise for getting a blue chip prospect for no cost- an odd paradox when essentially both parties get what they want.

Having Guillaume Latendresse Walk Isn't The End Of The World. Not Having Scoring Is.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Big Bear has left the building.

L.A. Lavierre of TVA Sports and confirmed by Michael Russo of the Star Tribune and Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Guillaume Latendresse has decided to try his luck in free agency. This comes after Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher declined to qualify the often-injured forward for $2.5 million as a restricted free agent. Although Latendresse agreed with the team that he didn't deserve that money, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement and the Quebec-born Latendresse now looks to be closer to his 4 year-old son as he told Russo
“It’s not that I didn’t want to go back," Latendresse said. "It’s not that the contract was not good. It’s not that I didn’t like the way the team was working or anything. It’s really a personal matter more than anything. I would have loved to go back to Minnesota, but sometimes you have to make decisions for your family and for your future.

“And I think my son would be better if he could be closer to me.”
Now, Latendresse will have his pick of destinations.

Matt Kassian Re-Signs With Minnesota (or) 2 More Years of Kassassination

It's not Guillaume Latendresse but the Minnesota Wild did make a move yesterday, signing popular enforcer Matt Kassian to a two-year, $1.15 million contract. From Wild.com
The 25 year old is the type of player that any team in the NHL would like to have in the locker room, but the Wild made sure to retain his services and Kassian is glad to be a part of the organization’s future.

“It’s fantastic, I couldn’t be any happier,” Kassian said. “This is where I wanted to be and I’m glad to get something worked out.”
Kassian, a second round pick by Minnesota in 2005, made his NHL debut in 2010-11 but had his biggest cup of coffee with the Wild last year replacing Brad Staubitz. The 25 year-old scored two goals (both against Montreal) in 24 games and compiled an even 55 penalty minutes. Matt's contract is a one-way and follows the pattern of the previous enforcer.

In addition to being laying on the bambam to NHL opponents, Kassian is Minnesota's most intriguing athlete Twitter follow almost to the point where the deal is worth it just for that reason. #fiveslist

Top 5 Thursday: Free Agent Signings In Minnesota Wild History

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity yesterday and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

The inaugural High Fidelity rip off is timely with July 1 approaching on Sunday and the Wild looking to make a splash in free agency. If all goes right, some combination of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Justin Schultz will be wearing Iron Range Red and be the best free agent acquisition in Minnesota hockey history. Before that maybe possibly hopefully happens, here are the "top five free agent acquisitions in Minnesota Wild history."

Restocking The Cupboard: John Draeger

John Draeger
6'2" 188 Pounds
Third Round, 68th Overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft

I knew I was on to something- I mentioned how during the course of the year I saw a very large contingent of Wild scouts down at Shattuck-St. Mary's watching games; not just random foot soldier, but the Craig Channells, the Brent Flahrs, the Guy LaPointes. I know part of the gig is watching players play and talking to them, but the money was on them viewing a kid like Teddy Bleuger, or Zach Stepan, or Hunter Fejes. Now it makes sense, as to who they were watching.

Arguably the pillar of another powerhouse edition of SSM, Draeger saw minutes in every important situation- he was on the top power play and penalty kill units, he was out there with minutes left trying to protect a lead, and in the few occurences, was on the ice in the waning minutes of a game trying to get the tying or go-ahead goal. Moving forward, I don't think we'll see him in such offensive oriented situations- I felt that while he makes nice crisp tape-to-tape passes, his puck skills and creativity aren't overwhelming, and his accuracy on mid to long range passes decreased greatly. His shot from the point varied as well; sometimes it was a complete muffin, other times a legit rocket. He was adept at one-timers, but I don't see it as a weapon going forward.

Now that I've ruined the whole post by poo-pooing his offensive game, what Draeger will be is exactly what Minnesota wants- he's very competitive, he's got good hockey sense, he's got good size, he's got leadership qualities, and he makes life difficult for the opposition in his own end. Ideally, I think you look at Draeger and pair him with a guy like fellow 2012 pick Matt Dumba, as Draeger's stay at home mentality would give Dumba a bit more freedom to be...well, Matt Dumba. Minnesota really liked his progression from the second half on, and it was noticeable- his skating is and will be a project, as his first steps lack explosion, especially after backward to forward transitions; for most of the year I felt Draeger was a guy you could just chip the puck past and beat him in a foot race, but his acceleration really improved after Christmas. His skating should smooth out with maturity as there are times where he doesn't really "hover" on cuts and crossovers, but the improvement is tangible.

A scout told me that Draeger was just awesome at the Tier 1 National Tournament, which SSM won (again.)

I think he's similar in nature to Nick Seeler, whom Minnesota took last year- a big kid who can skate and defend, but I feel there will be more offense to Seeler's game because of his vision and ability to skate with the puck. Draeger has more bite to his game however.

Having committed to Michigan State, Draeger is set to suit up for The Spartans this Fall. Minnesota will likely just let him develop on his own until they feel its time for him to step up a level.

Previous 2012 Restocking The Cupboard Articles:
Raphael Bussieres
Matt Dumba

Restocking The Cupboard: Raphael Bussieres

Raphael Bussieres
6'1", 195 lbs
Second Round, 46th overall 2012 NHL Draft

One thing that continues to come up with Brent Flahr draft picks are traits like character, speed, strength and Bussieres is no different. He brings strength to the table, especially on his skates, can be gritty down in the corners and the forward is not afraid to play on both ends of the ice. Raphael isn't afraid to shoot, finishing third in goals this season with Baie-Cormeau, and is able to create plays from the forecheck and transition at the junior level.

Highlight Video by friend of the blog Jerome Berube

Jason Zucker Is Not Brad Staubitz

As part of the ongoing Rodney Dangerfield series that has included such gems as "Mikko Koivu, Wild Defenseman" and the "Minnesota Canucks" comes this beauty from the NHL Network.

Yep, Jason Zucker is including John Travolta-style Face Off training (not to be confused with whatever training Mike Greenlay and Kevin Gorg do for Face Off) with his offseason workouts because the person pictured would be former Minnesota enforcer Brad Staubitz.

Full video of NHL Tonight's look at the Minnesota Wild is after the jump.

How Much Of A Gamble Is Trading For Zach Parise & Ryan Suter's Negotiating Rights?

One of the surprising things from last weekend's NHL Draft were reports that neither New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello and Nashville General Manager David Poile were approached about the rights negotiating to their prized free agents-to-be, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, respectively. It's possible both are lying or that in the case of Lamoriello no one wants to bring on his wrath. They need to hold their cards close to their vest and hope that they still have a chance to re-sign priority number nineortwenty.

Then again, it isn't even like Poile is inexperienced with trading away negotiating rights. Or that this was a draft where Garth Snow thought Ryan Murray was the second coming of Ricky Williams.

However, saying yes they are open to trading rights would kill that chance of not having to compete with 29 other teams and hurt any leverage with trade negotiations (if that so happens). So dealing with this "hypothetical" situation where Minnesota's aggressive nature for Parise and Suter at all costs or that they pay $9-10 million for Parise per year and over $100 million total would have them asking for the negotiating rights, how effective would that be? How much would they be looking at to part?

Hockey Day Minnesota 2013 Announced For January 19

When the NHL schedule came out last week, I said this:
No date is set in stone but I would be shocked if Hockey Day Minnesota 2013 is not on January 19. Besides being the same Saturday as last season, it is hard to pass up having the Wild at home facing Pittsburgh and the Gophers at home facing North Dakota for the last time in the WCHA.
Lo and behold, the date of Hockey Day Minnesota was announced today by both the Wild and University of Minnesota and it will be held on January 19th. Not to pat myself on the back (okay, yes I am) or anything but it makes perfect sense to have the seventh annual celebration of hockey in this state given the opponents for each team and availability of Chad Rau.

Grand Rapids is hosting the high school portion of HDM 2013 which will feature three outdoor games on Pokegama Lake (provided that it's cold enough and there is ice, unlike last year). All games are broadcast on Fox Sports North and while no times have been announced, my guess is that the Minnesota-North Dakota game starts somewhere around 5 p.m. and the Wild-Penguins begins around 7:30-8:00 p.m.
High School Games (Pokegama Lake, Grand Rapids)
Eagan vs. Hibbing (boys)
Benilde St. Margaret’s vs. Grand Rapids (boys)
Hibbing vs. Grand Rapids (girls) *tape delay

College Game
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. North Dakota, Mariucci Arena

Wild Game
Minnesota Wild vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Xcel Energy Center

Restocking The Cupboard: Matt Dumba

Matt Dumba, Defense Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
6'0" 180 Pounds 
First Round, 7th overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft

In my prep for the vaunted but usually wrong 7 for 7 series, I didn't bother to include Matt Dumba because I thought that a.) he wouldn't be there at 7, and that b.) he wasn't the kind of defenseman I believe Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher want. Then I read this in the days leading up to the Draft.

"It's difficult because the one characteristic that Dumba brings [more] than the other guys is the fact his competitive level is off the charts."

First Round Bust should have known better.

Matt Dumba On 1500 ESPN: "I Want To Make The Team Next Year"

There are a lot of good interviews of 2012 Minnesota Wild first round pick Mathew Dumba since the Wild took him with the seventh overall pick and it's fitting to take a look at one to get an idea of what his mindset is. Or how coach-able the 17 year-old is on dealing with the media in Minneapolis compared to Red Deer.

You can say this, Dumba has swag...

The interview I picked was the one he did this morning on 1500 ESPN with Judd Zulgad and Joe Anderson (aka "Judd and Phunn"). This was for a few reasons. First, the hosts are hockey guys and ask questions that are unique on that end. Second, it's still in the realm of other Dumba interviews conducted by non-hockey guys and not a special case.

For the most part, it's a solid interview and Dumba is more well-spoken in it than anything I would have done at 17. Sure there are some rehearsed and coached answers but that's the way it is these days. Still the non-rehearsed nuggets of information are good and are included in the article on it after the jump.

Louie Nanne 'ppreciates Every Single One Of You Doubters

Yesterday in our day after draft post-mortem, I wrote about the strange pro/con outcry over the seventh round selection of Edina forward Louie Nanne. There are plenty who love the pick of a local guy whose name evokes Minnesota hockey at its core while others decry the move as a public relations move at its worst; if Nanne's last name was Canne and his father wasn't a Wild scout no one would give a second thought.

My two cents are in the previously discussed article - it doesn't pass the smell test yet you can't blame him - and I was interested in how Nanne would respond. Would he coast and ignore the criticism? Or would the seventh round pick, who is heading to Penticton next year before suiting up for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, find a way to let the adversity fuels him?

Nanne chose the latter and honestly that's exactly why this tweet is inspiring to see.

Couldn't say it any better.

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.

2012 NHL Draft: Day 2 Selections - Raphael Bussieres, John Draeger Lead 6 Wild Picks

After picking defenseman Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels on Day 1 (Friday June 22), the Minnesota Wild have six more selections to bolster their prospect pool when the 2012 NHL Draft resumes Saturday morning for rounds 2 through 7.

Minnesota has all of its picks besides the second round where their own draft choice (#37) was traded to San Jose as part of the Brent Burns trade and subsequently ended up in Nashville via San Jose. In its place the Wild picked up the 46th overall selection in the Marek Zidlicky trade from New Jersey that originally belonged to Washington.
Minnesota Wild 2012 NHL Draft Selections 
Round 1:#7 overall: Mathew Dumba, D Red Deer (WHL)
Round 2 #46 overall: Raphael Bussieres, LW Baie Comeau (QMJHL)
Round 3 #68 overall: John Draeger, D Shattucks-St. Mary's (MN-HS)
Round 4 #98 overall: Adam Gilmour, RW Nobles (HS-MA)
Round 5 #128 overall: Daniel Gunnarsson, D Lulea (SEL)
Round 6 #158 overall: Christoph Bertschy, C Bern (Swiss)
Round 7 #188 overall: Louie Nanne, LW Edina (MN-HS)
We'll update this post with the players and any movement selected as they occur. Feel free to leave thoughts on them and the Draft as a whole in the comments.

The 2012 NHL Draft begins live at 9 a.m. from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA and will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network.

2012 NHL Draft: TSN Gives Minnesota Vancouver's Logo & Other Chyron Fails

The first round of the 2012 NHL Draft will go down for many things like Nail Yakupov being selected by the Edmonton Oilers as the first overall pick, their third consecutive #1 choice and the night the hosts Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Jordan Staal to Carolina for the eighth overall pick, Brian Dumoulin and Brandon Sutter. It's also the night that 13 defensemen were taken, including Minnesota selecting Mathew Dumba at #7 and 8 of the first ten picks, along with the Vancouver Canucks orca becoming the new Wild logo.

Wait what?

It happened according to the good folks at TSN. While no one truly knows what kind of mutant hybrid Nordy is, an orca whale has never come up in the many discussions on the subject. To make matters worse, it's a logo which is despised int he State of Hockey. Having the logo of a divisional rival is as close to being a F-U to the fans as you can get but it did happen.

With The Seventh Overall Pick In The 2012 NHL Draft..

...the Minnesota Wild select defenseman Mathew Dumba to join the State of Hockey. Dumba, out of Calgary, joins a long of first round picks including Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips (2011), Mikael Granlund (2010), Brent Burns (2003), Mikko Koivu (2001) and Marian Gaborik (2000).

Dumba has spent the past three seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League where he played with Wild prospect Darcy Kuemper and 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Matt is a bluechip prospect who put up 57 points (20G-37A) in 69 games. He also has leadership skills, captaining Canada's U-18 team to a bronze medal this year (playing with Slater Koekkoek) and put up 12 points. The 6 foot defenseman has offensive skills, skates hard and has a high upside, all things that Minnesota covets.

We'll have more on this selection later and whether Dumba joins the shelf of success of mantle of busts. Until then, you can't read his profile because for the second straight year we didn't do one. Honestly, we didn't think he would but after some discussions with the Maple Leafs and an the off-the-board selection by Anaheim, Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr will take the defenseman to their already stacked prospect pool.

#FRBDraft2012 Wild Blogger Consortium: Who Goes #7?

Dan and I thought it would be a great idea if we could get the entire Wild blogosphere together in one place and explain who they would take at #7. Sort of spread the wealth you know. Most of them said no but two brave souls decided to put their names on the line and for that we salute them.

(Also go read their blogs - they're good and if you're reading this chances are you like Minnesota hockey in some sense.)

Now Is The Time For Josh Harding To Prove He Is An NHL Starting Goaltender

As the deadline to sign and qualify restricted free agents draws near, there have been a number of deals and no deals. Besides Chad Rau, Chay Genoway re-signed on a two-way deal and Cody Almond decided on stability by signing a three-year contract with Servette in Switzerland. (insert your own Swiss chocolate and Almond joke here). A few remain unsigned like Justin Falk and Guillaume Latendresse although both have had discussions with the Wild brass.

The biggest name, however, is goaltender Josh Harding and the potential unrestricted free agent erased all fears of leaving by signing a three year, $5.7 million contract ($1.9 million cap hit) on Tuesday. It's a remarkable achievement for Harding, who missed the entire 2010-2011 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in a preseason game, and has been recently signed to a series of one-year deals. At the same time re-signing the 28 year-old goalie is a big investment on Minnesota's end and one that is more risky than meets the eye.

The Ins & Outs of the 2012-2013 Minnesota Wild Schedule

The NHL released the 2012-2013 schedule* for all 30 teams this morning with fanfare that did not include a three-hour breakdown by John Buccigross on ESPN. Minnesota's schedule, which can be found here at Wild.com, contains many interesting tidbits as the team opens the year at home October 13 against the Colorado Avalanche.

For example, the team who is closest to St. Paul and whose fanbase extends into the State of Hockey does not make an appearance at the Xcel Energy Center. Even if you don't like using the "r" word, not hosting Winnipeg is a financial hit for Minnesota. Other teams who don't visit include the two Eastern Conference finalists (New York and New Jersey), the last Stanley Cup winner from the East (Boston), Tampa Bay and of the league's brightest stars Steven Stamkos and Carolina. I guess it could be worse but those are a lot of marquee names who won't be gracing the State of Hockey's presence and a winnable game against the Bruins gone. For some reason the Wild own the Bruins, don't ask me why.

(If the glass is half-full, the Minnesota-born free agent which everyone covets would not have to hear boos if he chooses to re-sign with his current team. Same goes with Marek Zidlicky.)

More after the jump...

Ask Your 2012 NHL Draft Questions

The 2012 NHL Draft is only 48 hours away and here at First Round Bust we've compiled 7 profiles of prospects who may be taken by the Minnesota Wild with their first pick, a look at the Minnesotans available and tendencies that the Wild management have had in their last two Drafts. It is all available in the 2012 Draft HQ Page along with the first-ever Wild Prospect Handbook (download it today).

However, there are players and that weren't discussed that Dan or I have seen, the later round picks or even someone who could all into the seventh overall pick. If you have any draft questions that weren't answered by the 7 for #7 Profiles or even something out of the blue, leave it in the comments or tweet it at Dan Shrader or the First Round Bust Twitter and we'll try to answer them.

6/20 Wild News & Notes Around The Internet

Tonight at 5:30 p.m. is the Defending the Blue Line charity game featuring over a dozen NHLers, including the man in the above photo who is quite the buzz right now, at Ridder Arena. Why not be rewarded with the feeling of doing a good thing...and an autograph or two with that chance to really sell the benefits of wearing Iron Range Red to a certain free agent-to-be. Tickets are $25 at the door and benefit children whose parents are in the military.

Also, Michael Russo has a Live Chat at 1 PM today at Startribune.com where plenty of free agency and Draft questions will be asked and answered. If anyone can sneak in a "First Round Bust" reference, you will be my hero.

More links after the jump...

Guillaume Latendresse Biked 1000KM Last Weekend

Something that I haven't seen anyone talk or write about is Guillaume Latendresse biking 1000 km throughout Quebec for charity. Yes it isn't hockey or Wild-related but the Minnesota forward (for now) did help out a great cause.

The "Big Bear" took part in the Pierre Lavoie Grand Challenge last weekend, a major event in the province that began in 2008 but has roots going back more than a decade. Lavoie, a Canadian triathlete, began to raise awareness for lactic acidosis, which took two of his children. Besides that, it also now raises money and awareness to children about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

The entire video with Latendresse is in French but thanks to our resident French-Canadian expert Felix Levasque, here is the gist of the interview:
Well, he says he sent an email to the organization to see if he could participate this year. At first, he wanted to do it with his brother (Olivier Latendresse) but that didn't work out. Both should participate next year. Then, he describes his team and tells who are his teammates
It's an admirable achievement for anyone to do and I say that as someone who is big into cycling. The charity aspect aside, one has to be in great shape to bike 1000 km over 3 days and it's a different workout. Best this also shows how far Guillaume has come from a season-ending concussion in December(of which he was cleared by team doctors today).

(h/t to Felix Levasque with some French-English translations)

Chad Rau Gets Brought Back

The Minnesota Wild have been busy signing guys left and right before July 1 and made one major move today, re-signing...Eden Prairie Native Chad Rau. From his agent Paul Ostby:

Rau scored two goals in nine games with Minnesota with both being on "Hockey Day." This may make him the Leroy Hoard of Hockey Day (if you need a goal on Hockey Day Minnesota, Chad Rau will give you one. If you need two goals on Hockey Day in America, Chad Rau will give you one) but they were timely nonetheless.

The 25 year-old forward spent most of the season in Houston where he scored 35 points (14G-21A) in 67 games with the Aeros.

Terms of the deal are undisclosed but is likely a two-way deal. Chad previously signed a 2 year, $1.075 million contract with the Wild in 2010 after four seasons with Colorado College and not coming to terms with Toronto, where Rau was a 7th round draft pick in 2005 .

(If anyone felt duped by that first sentence despite the title CLEARLY spoiling things, don't worry, there's a Josh Harding post on its way. This just came up in the meantime.)

Analyzing The Fletcher/Flahr Draft PONDcast

"It's Groundhog Day every year in a good way."

Those words were spoken by Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher about this weekend's NHL Draft being held in Pittsburgh. The Steel City is a familiar place for him following three years being the Penguins' assistant GM and short of Ned Ryerson making the drive from Punxsutawny do a good job summing up the annual rite of passage for 18 year-old hockey players. The names and players may change year-in and year-out but the goal remains the same: to sort through and find tomorrow's core pieces today.

Last Thursday, the Wild held a predraft media luncheon where Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr spoke to the media about several topics related to the mindset of what happens Friday and Saturday. There were plenty of good questions asked by those present, which you can listen to here.

(First Round Bust's invitation to the non-existent kiddie table talk that worked around work obligations was lost in the email. Hey if teams and companies can have delusions and lie to themselves, why can't we?)

Some of these cover subjects that Dan explored in his "Draft Tendencies, Patterns and Following the Motif" article while others are new. Fletcher and Flahr are careful to not give anything away that affects the specifics of the Draft (other than the obvious not taking a goalie in the first round call) and the duo's poker face holds up with some humor on the side. Regardless, it's always interesting to take a look at what the guys running the show are saying.

#FRBDraft2012 7 For 7: Nicolas Kerdiles

Nicolas Kerdiles, Center (Left)
United States National Team Development Program
1/11/1994  6'1" 196 Pounds, 1/11/1994

Scouting Report:
An all-situations forward who works hard every shift...competitive and athletic forward with very good hands...high hockey IQ...anticipates well and makes quick decisions...fundamentally a sound skater, especially directionally, but lacks some explosion in his first step that would make him even more dangerous...sees the ice well...inserts himself into the thick of things...strong presence down around the net and goal line...willing to sacrifice- block shots, take hits to make plays, battle along the boards...quick release on his shot...varying opinions on his upside- some see top-6, some see third liner...either way can be counted on to be a solid defensive player...can try and do too much with the puck, eschewing the simple play...can be inaccurate with his shot...covers for teammates and capable of closing down passing lanes...

Mario Lucia Named To US National Junior Evaluation Camp Roster

The middle of June is pretty barren of prospect news so when there's something to report it's nice to write about anything other than speculation. And for Mario Lucia, there is something to write.

Minnesota's second round pick in 2011 (60th overall) is one of 46 players named today to the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp roster. The camp, which helps the United States decide who to take for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, runs from August 4-11 in Lake Placid, New York and features practices, scrimmages and international games against teams from Sweden and Finland.

Minnesota Wild Release A Columbus-Free Preseason Schedule

Assuming that the 2012-2013 season begins on time - which is no guarantee given the players and owners need to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement - the Minnesota Wild now know their preseason opponents and destinations. And they include Boise, Idaho. From Wild.com:
Minnesota released its preseason schedule today. The Wild will play home-and-home series against the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets, and close its preseason at the Calgary Flames.

Opening on the road, the Wild will play its first preseason game against the Stars on Tuesday Sept. 25 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. Minnesota hosts Dallas on Sept. 26 and the Blues on Sept. 27 at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild plays at St. Louis on Sept. 29 and hosts Winnipeg on Oct. 2 before playing road games against the Jets on Oct. 4 and the Flames on Oct. 6. The Wild went 3-3-1 in preseason action last season and owns a 36-22-7 all-time mark in preseason matches.
The game in Boise would mark the first time Minnesota has played in the Gem State.

Surprisingly the list of teams does not include Columbus. The Wild and Blue Jackets have played each other in the preseason at least once every year since 2008. Their game at the Xcel Energy Center last year, however, ended with Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski hitting Cal Clutterbuck in the head and subsequently receiving an eight-game suspension. This was followed up by Pierre-Marc Bouchard being suspended for two games after high-sticking Matt Calvert in the regular season opener.

(Minnesota does at least play St. Louis, their other annual preseason opponent, this year.)

Like in past years, all games are available on radio at KFAN.com but will not be broadcast on Fox Sports North. This means fans will have more time to prepare themselves for new Wild play-by-play announcer Anthony LaPanta (and they may need it) unless Minnesota streams a game or two on their website.

Sense and Sensability In The Throes of Parisemania

Now its on.

The Stanley Cup ended its coast to coast voyage, as finally it was thrust skyward by Los Angeles Kings Captain Dustin Brown after The Kings dispatched The New Jersey Devils in Game 6 to capture the most famous and recognizable trophy in all of sport.

The focus quickly switched following the marvel of a group of men skating around their home rink with a 35 pound prize above their heads; so, Mr. Zach Parise, what will you do with your future when July 1 comes about?

The eyes of the hockey landscape are all curious, maybe none more than the fanbase of the Minnesota Wild- well wait. Maybe its more anyone with any sort of investment in the Minnesota Wild. Fans, Front Office, Owners.

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7: Sebastian Collberg

Sebastian Collberg, Right/Left Wing (Right)
Frolunda, Swedish Elite League
2/23/1994 5'11" 175 Pounds

Scouting Report:
Somewhat on the small side, but Collberg is driven and has the ability to be a game breaker...possesses excellent speed and agility...a constant goal scoring threat, whether it is off the wing or in the dirty areas around the net...has an elite shot; seamless release, heavy, accurate...plays a high tempo game, competes hard to finish checks and get after rebounds...possesses a great set of hands, allowing him to stickhandle and maintain possession in traffic...physical impact limited by his lack of size and mass, but doesn't take away from the willingness...played a strictly defensive role for Frolunda, which explains no goals in 41 games- afraid of making mistakes he maintained a purely defensive posture...was knocked for individualistic play at U-18's...concerns about how his size and game will translate to the North American game...more strength will help him win more battles.

2012 Free Agency: Who To Read & Follow From New Jersey & Nashville

Free agency is a big enough deal where in the brilliance of biking the other night I thought it would be a good idea to come up with a list of writers and bloggers from the two teams whose free agents Minnesota (and a dozen other teams) are coveting. Those teams are of course the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators as they try to work on re-signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, respectively. While the Twin Cities sports media have done a good job covering "Parise Watch" with half a month to go before July 1, sometimes it is better to branch out and get a "national" view of things.

And by national in this case I mean a different local perspective, not American or Canadian national. If you want to read hockey coverage from TSN, THN, ESPN or Sportsnet go right ahead. Many of these websites and writers have original material that comes out before reaching the State of Hockey.

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7: Griffin Reinhart

Griffin Reinhart, Defense (Left) Edmonton Oil Kings, Western Hockey League 6'4" 205 Pounds, 1/24/1994

Scouting Report:
A huge player at this stage of game whose skating is starting to catch up...gets around quite well, but footwork will have to continue to improve as he can get beaten wide...hard to play against because of his reach and size...physicality needs to be more predatory in nature, but finishes his checks with zeal...moves the puck well with a good first pass...great vision allows him to find open forwards up ice consistently...owns a heavy shot, one that needs to be employed more often...there are differing opinions on who he will be at the next level...skating, size, and competitiveness could make him a high end defender at the next level...unafraid to skate the puck up the ice...uses size well to win leverage and positioning battles in own end...makes good decisions on a consistent basis...good hockey sense.

Brett Bulmer Joins Twitter

In a post that will surely not help the number of posts concerning social media here (heads up, there's another one scheduled for tomorrow), another Minnesota Wild prospect has joined Twitter.

This time the newest one is Brett Bulmer, the 39th overall pick in 2010. After beginning the year in Minnesota for nine games, where he had 3 assists, Bulmer went back to Kelowna of the WHL and led the Rockets with 62 points (34G-28A) in only 53 games. His postseason, however, was not as successful as the 20 year-old was suspended for a game after a knee-on-knee hit and a young Kelowna team ended up being swept by the Portland Winterhawks.

Bulmer did score his first professional goal for Houston in the AHL postseason in a 1-0 win against Oklahoma City but unfortunately that was the only victory he experienced in two postseason series.

Brett, Minnesota's 9th ranked prospect in the new Minnesota Wild Prospect Handbook (download here), can be found on Twitter @BrettBulmer92. He joins fellow 2010 second round picks Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson on the social media site.

Don't forget that you can follow those presently on the Minnesota Wild here along with all of the team's prospects.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7: Slater Koekkoek


Slater Koekkoek, Defense (Left) Peterborough Petes, Ontario Hockey League 6'2" 184 Pounds, 2/18/1994

Scouting Report:
May have the highest ceiling of any defensemen in the draft...has excellent size and a frame that can support more mass...very mobile skater, strong on his edges, and has good first step explosion...very tenacious presence on the ice, making him a hard player to go up against...makes crisp tape to tape passes...very adept at skating the puck up the ice and making intelligent reads...great work ethic...battles for position in front of his net...has a heavy shot that gets through to the net...until his injury he was logging over 30 minutes a game for Peterborough...positioning and gap control can be inconsistent, but can be corrected through coaching...shoulder injury and subsequent surgery has caused him to be a forgotten player...was willing to wear a harness and play through injury, but was shut down as The Petes got torpedoed by injuries...great character...played in all situations, and on both special teams units...can play any role given to him willingly...willing to engage physically...moves the puck very well...strong vision...needs to step up at own blueline more consistently...behind in development curve due to lost year.

Minnesota Wild Prospect Handbook Issue 1: 2011-12 Season Review

MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL- In an effort to have the most in-depth Minnesota Wild prospect and draft news and analysis in one convenient place, Hockey Wilderness and First Round Bust have teamed up to put out a Wild Prospect Handbook on a seasonal basis.

This first issue (out now) contains articles on the state of the prospect pool over the last two years, a feature on current University of Minnesota sophomore Erik Haula, the top Minnesota-born players in the 2012 NHL Draft and a feature by Heather Galindo (aka Ms. Conduct) from The Third Intermission on the Houston Aeros' season.

In addition, the top 15 Minnesota Wild prospects are ranked in order of potential and development and the 2012 NHL Draft gets covered with an article that looks at the team's organizational needs and a 30 pick mock draft of the first round.

You can download the first edition of the Wild Prospect Handbook here for FREE.

Hockey Wilderness:
Website - www.hockeywilderness.com
Twitter - @hockeywildernes
Facebook - www.facebook.com/hockeywilderness

First Round Bust:
Website - www.firstroundbust.com
Twitter - @FRBHockey

Individual Twitter Accounts:
Dan Chan - @danccchan
Dan Shrader - @shraderD
Nate Wells - @gopherstate

  • A lot of credit has to go to Daniel Chan of Hockey Wilderness for putting this together. Dan and myself (Nate) did a lot but this is his baby and we're very happy to help out.
  • Feel free to spread this around. In fact, tell your friends about the handbook and have them spread it around.
  • As far as the mock draft goes, Dan took 1,4,7,etc., Nate took 2,5,8, etc. and Daniel took 3,6,9, etc. 
  • This is our first edition so there are bound to be a couple problems. If you see any or have a suggestion, leave it in the comments so we can improve on the next edition.

#FRBDraft2012 7 For 7: Teuvo Teravainen

Teuvo Tervainen, Right Wing (Left) Jokerit, SM-Liiga 5'11" 165 Pounds, 9/11/1994

Scouting Report:
Supremely skilled player with high end hockey sense...tremendous skating ability; lateral agility, quickness, sense of pace, acceleration make him elusive...elite playmaking ability shines as he can control the pace of play...creates his own shots...despite size will go into high traffic areas after pucks...has the ability to stickhandle through traffic but won't necessarily do it time after time...shot isn't overly heavy but has elite release and accuracy...one of the youngest members in 2012 Draft Class, a few days removed from being 2013 eligible...needs strength in order to win more leverage battles against stronger competition, but still asserted himself well playing in Finland's top Mens League...competes in both ends, comes back to defend and backcheck...able to spin off checks...showed a tendency to play more of a perimeter style game...some reports of showing disinterested play late into season...higher offensive upside than Filip Forsberg...draws in opponents only to pass off to open teammates...added strength will help in terms of battling along the boards and positioning.

6/13 Wild News & Notes Around The Internet

Editor's note: It's been a while since we've done a post filled with links so between that guilt and knowing a couple of these subjects won't get their proper due, here are the best Wild and prospect-related links throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere. 

It's not the size of the stick but how you use it. (@Jason_Zucker16)

This week, as you may expect, is full of Zach Parise and Stanley Cup articles because what else is there to talk about right before the Draft? Okay there's some college and Draft stuff too (off topic: thanks to Tommy there's a shiny new page in the upper right corner which showcases all the #FRBDraft2012 pieces and beautiful graphics - click it!) but the end of playoff hockey has kicked Parise Watch 2012 up a notch like Emeril used to do.

Emeril? Holy dated reference Batman. Anyways, there are more great reads after the jump.

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7: Morgan Rielly

Morgan Rielly, Defense (Left) Moose Jaw Warriors, Western Hockey League 6'0" 195 Pounds, 3/9/1994

Scouting Report:
A skilled offensive defenseman with elite skating ability...season cut short because of a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, although he came back late in the season...dangerous top gear and wonderful directional mobility...good feet allow him to maneuver in tight quarters...one of the best, if not the best, puck movers in the Draft...excellent first pass...innate ability to know when to pass or hold onto the puck...great vision...plays with great poise, which allows him to create plays by waiting out defenders...reads the play well while defending...uses his stick to defend and clog up passing lanes...size isn't optimal considering the forwards he'll have to play against at the NHL level...decision making in his own zone can be sketchy...can be exposed by forecheckers as he tries to move the puck out of the defensive zone...Quarterbacks a power play with aplomb...there will be lingering questions surrounding his recovery from the knee injury, especially for a skater of his capacity...still a bit unrefined in his own end.

Hockey's Future Has Wild Ranked As The #2 Prospect Organization - What Changed?

Author's note: As the Draft nears and we get knee deep in our coverage, I'm going to try to cover a few subjects which have slipped through the cracks. Minnesota's prospect pool being recognized is one of them.

Last week Hockey's Future, one of the most well-known prospect sites, named the Minnesota Wild's prospect pool the second-best in the NHL during their spring 2011 rankings. It's an honor that has been at least a year in the making and one that Wild fans who have been following the rise and development of their prospects since 2009 have been waiting for. At the same time, it's a massive jump going from 17th in the fall to only trailing the Florida Panthers over a span of six months.

So what changed? Lets go back to the beginning.

The first real post that I ever wrote for First Round Bust when we started it in October 2010 was the Hockey's Future organization ranking at the time, which saw the Wild ranked 26th out of 30 teams. Here's what they wrote:
26. Minnesota Wild

Strengths: As a result of picking defensemen and two-way forwards with their top picks in recent years, skilled Finnish forward Mikael Granlund is the first top offensive prospect to join the organization since the early 2000s. Outside of Granlund, newly-signed Casey Wellman and two-way forwards Colton Gillies and Cody Almond have shown NHL potential. Marco Scandella and Tyler Cuma are both talented blueliners that should be joining the Wild sooner rather than later. 
Weaknesses: Outside of Granlund, the forward prospect pool is lacking in offensive ability. The blue line group is lackluster, devoid of depth and top-end talent. The team is in dire need of prospects on the right wing. There is no bona fide goaltending starter in the system, nor much depth. Top 5 Prospects: 1. Mikael Granlund, C, 2. Marco Scandella, D, 3. Tyler Cuma, D, 4. Colton Gillies, LW, 5. Matt Hackett, G.

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7: Jacob Trouba

Jacob Trouba, Defenseman (Right)
United States National Team Development Program
2/26/1994 6'2" 191 Pounds

Scouting Report:
Impressive package of aggression and control...willing physical participant, which makes him hard to play against in his own end...fluid and powerful skater, plays with an unreal amount of poise...routinely makes correct decisions with the puck on his stick...makes an excellent first pass, and has the vision to connect on passes of all lengths...more of a first-pass player out of his own end, but has the ability to rush the puck up the ice...can be overzealous at times with his physical play, but will drop the gloves...very competitive player...possesses a heavy and accurate shot, making him a very effective triggerman...very tough player to beat along the boards...holds the blueline effectively and forces opponents to chip the puck in deep...very sturdy skater, making him not only hard to knock off the puck, but also gives him an advantage in winning leverage battles...shows very good ability to maintain gap control...offensive upside is questionable, as he doesn't possess high end creativity.

J.P Parise Discussing Hockey & Zach On KFAN

June is always interesting because for 28 teams there are only two things to discuss: the upcoming NHL Draft and free agency on July 1. Prospects are done playing and signed, the previous season has been dissected and laid to rest and unless there's a late personnel move (which happened to Minnesota last year) the name of the game is dreaming of what can be. Seriously, June in Minnesota has gotten to the point where the Wild are a collective unit rather than individuals. At least on the radio.

On Friday Paul Allen had Zach Parise's father J.P. on his 9-12 KFAN show to promote the Defending the Blue Line charity game June 20th at Ridder Arena. That was only part of the 30 minute conversation (which you can listen to here) and covered the former North Stars' NHL career, living in the Twin Cities and of course his son's impending free agency.

More on Parise after the jump...

#FRBDraft2012 7 for 7...Let The Games Begin.

We are pleased to bring you our (now) annual series *insert number* for *corresponding number of draft slot*. In a way its a celebration of the knowledge that FRB believes to have accumulated during the course of the year, whether it came from seeing these kids live, on the internet, or read some sheepdip at some rumor site. These posts are what we consider our niche- a focus on the youth of the Minnesota Wild organizational pipeline, and the potential players who could be added to that...

...and we failed miserably at it last year, trying to guess who Minnesota would take at 10. Well, aside from the Brent Burns Draft Day Trade, and the subsequent selection of Zack Phillips at...#28. So we got it right...sorta. Kinda.

We did some homework as to what Brent Flahr and his staff of globe trotting coffee drinkers are looking for, and we feel that these seven players we are about to highlight have those same qualities as well. The glaring hole we all see right now is that we are thin on the defensive side, as compared to forward; Jonas Brodin and Nick Seeler are the only two defensemen taken in the last two Drafts, although Johan Gustafsson and Stephen Michalek, both goalies, have been taken as well.

So it makes sense that it will be a defenseman taken, right? Especially since the Draft is defense-heavy in the top 50 or 60 picks...or will it be a skilled forward who will slip on a Minnesota sweater again this year?

Six Amazing Minutes Of Mikael Granlund Highlights

A lot has been said about Mikael Granlund, the Minnesota Wild's first round pick in 2010, both on here and elsewhere. His vision, skating, puck handling abilities, whether or not Granlund would ever come over to the NHL (answer: yes) and how the center's style of play in Finland will translate in North America. But for everything written, a picture is worth a thousand words and video?

We got video.

Handelo (who also put up the great Mikael Granlund: From Yard Games To The Stars documentary up) has  another Granlund video comprised of 2011-2012 highlights throughout SM-Liiga, the World Junior Championships and World Championships for Team Finland. There are some sick moves, filthy passes (although there a lot that weren't buried, something the Wild know all too well last year) and amazing goals. Needless to say, if you have six minutes, it's worth a watch to see the future Minnesota forward in action.

(Again, huge props to Handelo for creating this masterpiece)

6/6 Wild News & Notes Around The Internet

Editor's note: It's been a while since we've done a post filled with links so between that guilt and knowing a couple of these subjects won't get their proper due, here are the best Wild and prospect-related links throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere. 

Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the Minnesota North Stars being founded. While the team relocated to Dallas in 1993 (and subsequently replaced by the Wild), they still loom large in the Minnesota hockey landscape. The above video is a classic Norris Division brawl featuring actual teams who hate each other and Frank Mazzocco on the call.

Who the hell is Damien Brunner?

After I got home from work today, I sat down with a bite to eat and checked out Elliotte Friedman's weekly 30 Thoughts Column over at CBC.Ca- now, if you aren't familiar with said feature, make sure you make a point to read it every week. Lots of great anecdotes, insider knowledge, and sometimes thought-provoking questions as well.

So during the course of reading the piece, I came across this little nugget:

24. Both Tampa and Pittsburgh are checking out 26-year-old Swiss winger Damien Brunner, who is an unrestricted free agent. It's likely Minnesota is too, as the Wild were ahead of the curve and tried to sign him last year. But, he wanted to spend one more year in Europe.

Erik Christensen Might Be Taking His Talents To Europe (CONFIRMED)

This hasn't been confirmed by anyone in the Twin Cities or the Minnesota Wild but if this Czech article is true, free agent to be Erik Christensen is beginning to look at European maps and brush up on his Russian.

Christensen, who scored 7 points (6 goals - 1 assist) in 29 games for the Wild after being traded for Casey Wellman, made $925,000 last year in the final year of a 2 year deal. He appears to be heading to the KHL after signing a contract with HC Lev. The team is situated in Prague and will be playing its first season in 2012-2013.

If true, Minnesota loses a shootout specialist who Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber wrote an article on the 28 year-old's specialty. Unfortunately though for most of the season that was the extent of Christensen's skills and he saw himself in the press box during the lowest of the Wild's lows. He found his way back with the highlight being a 3-2 overtime win against Florida March 29th where Erik had the tying goal in the final minute before Mikko Koivu scored the game winner. However, in the end Christensen looked to be a top-six player without top-six skills (not including the shootout) even for a depleted Minnesota forward corps.

We wish the best for Erik in his next adventure and will update if any confirmation comes in.

UPDATE (1:40 PM): Other sources such as Yahoo! Russian writer Dmitry Chesnokov and Pro Hockey Talk are also reporting this. Also as Jared points out in the comments, Minnesota gets New York's 7th round pick in 2013 as a condition (that he doesn't re-sign) of the trade that brought Christensen here.

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Image 

Derek Boogaard Had Easy Access To Prescriptions Per New York Times

There is no way around it, this is a tough post to write but one that needs to be written. Derek Boogaard has his place in Wild lore and despite his demons, it's hard to not want to remember anything but the positives of someone who left this earth. At the same time, ignoring the details to Derek Boogaard's death would be missing the point.

John Branch of the New York Times, who last December had an excellent 3-part series that delved into the life of Boogaard, had another piece that ran in the Times and Minneapolis Star-Tribune Monday morning about the struggling addiction the enforcer went through before passing away last May at the age of 28. The article benefits from Len Boogaard, Derek's father and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for 30 years, compiling documents and medical and phone records. The end result was a long, twisted path of easy access to prescription drugs through doctors, dealers and other methods wrapped around a pair of trips to rehab.

Minnesota was forthcoming (or more than the Rangers) to the New York Times.Their statement:
“The Minnesota Wild treated Derek’s medical status in accordance with the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program as we do with all our players,” the Wild wrote. “Due to patient-doctor confidentiality, the team is not able to comment further.”

It was pointed out to the Wild that most of the team’s care being questioned by Boogaard’s father came before Boogaard entered the program. The Wild stood by its statement.

Sorry Clayton Stoner For Waiting A Month To Discuss Your Contract

With all apologies to the Queen Mary Clayton Stoner, better late than never.

One of the weird things of the last month is that while a lot was written on various Wild-related subjects (32 posts in all), there were still a few big things that we forgot to cover. Take Stoner re-signing last month for example - it's one of the bigger things affecting Minnesota at a NHL level and all that we have is a half-written article. I can't remember why there's an article that was half-done and never finished but my guess would be that LaPanta-Gate and having to re-write an aborted article may have had something to do with it. That or laziness got the best of me. Regardless, it's something that along with a couple other subjects that I hope to rectify over the next few days.

Minnesota Wild Defenseman Clayton Stoner

Thoughts on Stoner re-upping last month after the jump...

Mikael Granlund Graduates High School

One of the reasons 2010 first round pick Mikael Granlund decided to spend another season in Finland rather than try to make the Minnesota Wild roster was to finish high school. As of Saturday, you can cross that off the list.