The Minnesota Wild went into this year’s NHL entry draft in Montreal with the 12th overall pick and a mandate to replenish the system with young talent.
Day 1 saw new Wild GM Chuck Fletcher deal the 12th overall pick to the New York Islanders for the 16th pick and two later round choices. Fletcher used the 16th pick to draft a solid two-way defenseman in Nick Leddy.
Day 2 brought another trade. Minnesota acquired center Kyle Brodziak and the 161st pick from the Edmonton Oilers for the 99th and 133rd picks. In Brodziak, the Wild get a depth forward who can provide energy and grit.
Minnesota drafted eight players: two goaltenders, five forwards and one defenseman.
Nick Leddy, D – 5’11 185lbs – Eden Prairie High School
1st Round 16th Overall
Fletcher’s first draft choice as GM of the Minnesota Wild caused a buzz. Fletcher elected to trade the 12th overall pick to the New York Islanders for the 16th, 77th, and 182nd picks. In doing so he passed on Minnesota native Jordan Schroeder as well as highly touted prospects Zack Kassian and Dmitri Kulikov. With the 16th pick, the Wild selected local Nick Leddy from Eden Prairie High School. Leddy was ranked lower by most services going into the draft, only 25th by ISS for example.
But the 2009 draft was considered to be very deep, therefore the drop between a 16th-ranked prospect and a 25th-ranked prospect a matter of taste. Regardless, Minnesota got the man they wanted and added a couple of late picks as well.
When asked after the draft whether or not he any idea that Minnesota might take him, Leddy responded: “Maybe a little bit, not too much, because you never know on draft day. You really never know what can happen. But I’m just happy that they picked me and I can be one of the hometown guys.”
The scouting report on Leddy is that he has great offensive potential. He is also known for being a very smart player who sees the play develop very well. His ability to quarterback a power play made him a very intriguing prospect going into the draft. Despite being a first-round pick, Leddy is very aware that there is still a long road ahead to the NHL.
Asked what he needs to work on, Leddy said, “Just getting stronger and work on my defense more, and you can always improve on everything,” he said.
Last season’s Mr. Hockey award winner will continue to play for Eden Prairie next season.
Matt Hackett, G – 6’2 170lbs – Plymouth Whalers
3rd Round 77th Overall
It’s no surprise that Plymouth Whaler goaltender Matthew Hackett claims his uncle was his role model when he was growing up. Hackett, the nephew of former NHLer Jeff Hackett, went into this year’s entry draft as the top ranked North America goaltender for good reason. Hackett started the 2008-09 season as the Whalers backup goaltender behind Nashville prospect Jeremy Smith. Hackett’s steady and reliable play allowed Plymouth to eventually move Smith to Niagara. Hackett is a very mobile goaltender with good movement for a bigger keeper. He uses his size advantage well and challenges shooters. Given the lack of quality goaltenders in the Wild system, adding a goalie of Hackett’s caliber was a must in this draft.
Kris Foucault, LW – 6’1 202lbs – Calgary Hitmen
4th Round 103rd Overall
If there was a diamond in the rough in this year’s draft, it just may be Foucault. Foucault spent most of last season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Canmore Eagles after being cut from the WHL’s Kootenay Ice early on. It was ultimately Calgary Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio who saw enough talent in Foucault to bring him back to the WHL. In Calgary’s remaining 22 games, Foucault managed 16 points. It wasn’t until the playoffs that Foucault really began to shine, however. In 18 games, Foucault was a force with 11 goals and five assists.
The scouting report on Foucault is that he has a rocket of a shot that is also very precise. He is also a solid skater and a very capable defender in his own zone.
Alexander Fallstrom, RW – 6’2 195lbs – Shattuck St. Mary’s High School
4th Round 116th Overall
Fletcher went with another local connection using his fourth-round pick to grab Fallstrom from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School.
An obviously excited Fallstrom said after his name was called, “It’s definity a dream come true. I’ve been living there for the past two years and have been having a great time. I’m really glad they decided to draft me.”
Last season the Swede netted 40 goals and chipped in 47 assists in 52 games. Fallstrom plays a solid power forward style game and does a little of everything. He sees his excellent shot and his strong physical play as his two best assets. Fallstrom is also an excellent player in his own end. He will continue to polish his game at Harvard next season.
Darcy Kuemper, G – 6’4 195lbs – Red Deer (WHL)
6th Round 161st Overall
In Kuemper’s first full season in the WHL, he managed to perform his way into the starter goaltender job, replacing prospect Morgan Clark (VAN) as the Red Deer Rebels go-to guy. He posted a solid 2.96 GAA and managed a 21-25-8 record on a rebuilding Red Deer team. Kuemper is a big goaltender who is quick and agile but does have holes in his game. His positioning and rebound control are not where they need to be. Minnesota will take their time with Kuemper and hope he develops into a serviceable goaltender in the future.
Jere Sallinen, F – 6’0 183lbs – Espoo Blues
6th Round 163rd Overall
Fletcher and his staff took a bit of a flyer at this stage of the afternoon. Sallinen is absolutely a worthy draft choice, however, after missing all but nine games last season due to a serious back injury, there are many questions surrounding this young Finn. In the nine games he played for the Espoo Blues in the Finland’s Junior League, Sallinen managed three points and a healthy 31 penalty minutes. In last year’s U18 World Championships, he also chipped in three points and 31 penalty minutes. His enthusiasm and grit combined with his willingness to play a defensively responsible game draw him comparisons to fellow countryman Jarko Ruutu. Reportedly healthy, Sallinen will next showcase his game at Finland’s national junior team summer camp.
Erik Haula, LW – 6’0 170lbs – Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School
7th Round 182nd Overall
Although he didn’t show it in post-draft interviews, Haula was certainly more than relieved when Minnesota picked the Pori, Finland native in the final round of this year’s entry draft. Haula went into the draft as the 57th ranked North American skater by Central Scouting. His lack of size prevented him from being a higher pick. Haula is a gifted and consistent scorer with a keen hockey sense. Last season with Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Haula led the team with assists and finished second in goals. His assets include his maturity and great character. No doubt the Minnesota scouting staff also liked the fact that Haula is an excellent English speaker and no stranger to “big game” hockey having represented Finland twice at the World U18 Championships. He will play next season in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers and is committed to attending the University of Minnesota after that.
Anthony Hamburg, C – 6’1 185lbs – Dallas Stars Midget Minor Tier 1
7th Round 193rd Overall
With their last pick in this year’s entry draft, Minnesota picked up Houston native Anthony Hamburg. Houston is of course where Minnesota has their AHL farm club. The center spent last year playing Midget AAA with the Dallas Stars Midget Major Tier 1 hockey club where he potted 29 goals and added 70 assists in a total of 70 games. He has speed to burn and has very soft hands. As his stats show, he is a good scorer and a very good playmaker. The knock on this youngster is unwillingness to improve the defensive aspect of his game. Next season Hamburg will lace up his skates in the USHL alongside Haula for the Omaha Lancers.