The Minnesota Wild 2003 entry draft threw draft watchers for a loop. The selection of Brampton right wing Brent Burns
at No. 20 at first seemed a reach, but they followed it up with Mississauga center Patrick O’Sullivan
when he was still available at No. 56.
Brett Burns had an interesting 18 months, he
went from 5’9″ to 6’4″, and switched positions, converting from a defenseman
to a right wing. Finally, ranked as the 101st best North American skater by
Central Scouting Service at mid-season, Burns moved up to No. 39 by the final rankings
Burns spent most of the season as a fourth line grinder. But towards the end
of the season coach Stan Butler gave Burns more ice time; and it paid off with
six goals and 12 points in his last ten games, and being named to the OHL All-Rookie team; an honor he shares with past Brampton Battalion rookie Jason Spezza. Burns described his preference at the draft.
“When I was drafted by Brampton I was a right winger. I played defense
for my Tier 2 team. When I came to camp, (the coach) said you just played your
last game at defense. I like forward, I like getting involved in the play. Scoring
points makes you feel more involved.“
The playoffs gave Burns more opportunity to improve, he led Brampton in scoring
with five goals and six assists in 15 games and was responsible for two game
In the OHL coaches poll, Burns finished second for most improved, second behind Ottawa General star Corey Locke.
His hard work ethic and defensive background make Burns a good fit for the
Minnesota blue-collar defensive system. His 6’4″, 219 pound stature will also
be an asset to a team lacking large, mobile forwards. If he can continue to score as he did in the last half of the year, Burns could make the Wild scouts look brilliant.
Most ratings had O’Sullivan within the top 20, right around when Minnesota would be selecting. Many speculated that if available, the Wild would select O’Sullivan. None thought they would get him as low as they did at number 56. His late selection in the 2003 entry draft surely was not because of his skill level, his numbers speak for themselves.
O’Sullivan rewrote the Mississauga Ice Dog record books this year; establishing a team record for most goals in a season with 40; breaking his old record of 34. He scored four game winning goals breaking his old record of three. O’Sullivan also set the all time Ice Dog points record with 173 points.
Besides scoring ability, O’Sullivan posessess smooth and deceptive skating skills, finishing third in the Best Skater category in the OHL coaches poll.
Minnesota could use a pure sniper like O’Sullivan to feed off of the setup players they have in Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Rickard Wallin.
With Jacques Lemaire’s teaching ability, O’Sullivan could really blossom in the Wild organization. As far as defensive abilities go GM Doug Risebrough, has always said defense can be taught, offense can’t. Forward Wes Walz knows that first hand. Before Lemaire, Wes Walz and defense were never used in the same sentence. Now Walz is a Selke award nominee
Head scout Tommy Thompson also suggested the Wild were looking to broaden the team by adding scoring ability to compliment the defensive players already in the system.
Irmen led the Lincoln Stars of the USHL to the Clark Cup (North American Junior
A national title). In the process Irmen, the team captain, was named the Clark
Cup MVP. He was also the leading playoff goal scorer with eight, with two coming
in the final game of the cup finals. He finished second in playoff points with 14.
His regular season points are impressive for a player who missed 15 games because
of a broken arm.
Scouts and coaches who have seen him play describe him as a feisty sparkplug.
One NHL scout said that Irmen might just be the best player to come out of the
USHL this season. Other things that have been used to describe him are: competitive,
plays with an edge, and his style of play is what it takes to win.
Hockey fans in Minnesota will be able to follow Irmen closely as he is to play
in the NCAA this fall for the University of Minnesota.
Playoffs (World Under 18 Tournement)
Kolusz became the first hockey player from Poland drafted since New Jersey selected
Krzysztof Oliwa in 1993.
Raised in a country that gets little hockey exposure, Kolusz hired the agent
that brought Dominik Hasek to the NHL. He prides himself on hard work and good
Wild scouts agreed, and have said he possesses good size very good skating
ability. They liked him so much that they tried to move up in the draft to get
him. Although unable to move up, the Wild were still able to select him at the
Kolusz was selected by the Vancouver Giants of the WHL in the import draft, and
may play with other Wild draftee, Adam Courchaine, in the 2003-2004 season.
Kopriva is a large stand up goalie that covers a lot of the net and
has great reflexes. He leverages his large size to stop the initial shot, and
moves well in the crease to cover the rebound. In 31 games played, Kopriva had
four shutouts and posted a 1.93 Goals-Against-Average for the 2002-2003 season.
He will not win any stick-handling awards though.
The selection of a European goaltender is good for the Wild as they have a
log jam of goalies in the AHL, ECHL, and on their own bench. Kopriva can spend
the next several years in the Czech Extra league, where the competition is always
Misharin is your standard stay at home defensemen. You don’t notice him during a game, but that’s because he’s done his job.
He has decent skating abilities and posted a +8 in six games during the 2003 Under
18 World championship.
Misharin is scheduled to play in the Russian Super League for the 2003-2004 season.
Courchaine is small on size but large on scoring ability. He led the Vancouver
Giants of the WHL with 43 goals and 85 points last year and was named to second
team All-Star selection for the western conference.
Team scouts liked Courchaine because of his scoring success at every level
he has competed in. He finished as the 15th leading
point scorer in the WHL with 85 pts, fifth in goal scoring, finishing ahead of
the 7th overall pick of the 2002 entry draft Joffrey Lupul.
Playing for Chicoutimi, Melanson was the third leading scorer among rookies in the QMJHL for the 2002-2003
He finished the year with 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists)
Bolduc a lanky defensemen with room to grow (6’4″ 190 pounds) was ranked as
the 84th best North American skater. The Wild said they selected him because
of his size. He is a good skater with some offensive upside.
Minnesota’s drafting style has always been a little different than the rest of
the NHL; save Marion Gaborik. But with good results from Nick Schultz and the
2003 Calder Cup champion Houston Aeros as their main AHL affiliate, one can’t argue
with the relatively good short-term success of their prospects.
The Wild stuck with their drafting style in 2003 by taking a few gambles on
some players. But if these prospects can perform up to their potential, the
Wild have a lot of good players for the future.
|1||20||Brent Burns||Brampton (OHL)||6’4||210||RW|
|2||56||Patrick O’Sullivan||Mississauga (OHL)||5’11||190||C|
|3||78||Danny Irmen||Lincoln (USHL)||6’0||190||C|
|5||157||Marcin Kolusz||Novy Targ (Poland)||6’1||180||F|
|6||187||Miroslav Kopriva||Kladno (Czech Extra League)||6’2||176||G|
|7||207||Grigory Misharin||Yekaterinburg (Russian SuperLeague)||6’0||198||D|
|7||219||Adam Courchaine||Vancouver (WHL)||5’10||171||C|
|8||251||Mathieu Melanson||Chicoutimi (QMJHL)||6’1||185||LW|
|9||281||Jean-Michel Bolduc||Quebec (QMJHL)||6’4||190||D|