The 2009 NHL Draft was the first for Chuck Fletcher as the Wild's second General Manager. From our vantage point today, Wild's team performed admirably in commencing the tough work of resetting a franchise whose fortunes had been dimmed early on by a combination of myopia and bad luck at the draft board.
The 2012-13 season in Finland's SM-Liiga was interesting, to say the least.
With an influx of NHL players early in the season due to the NHL lockout, the level of play was higher than in recent years. When those players returned to their NHL clubs, the remainder of the season saw several teams which had not had much success recently in the thick of things.
The 2011-12 SM-Liiga season was one of opportunity for several young players – as the continued exodus of top flight veterans from the Finnish national league to the KHL or North America allowed some of the top Finnish juniors to make an impact with their respective clubs.
The 2011 NHL Draft capped off what was an enjoyable hockey season in Finland. After watching the national team defeat arch-rival Sweden handily in the IIHF World Championship tournament, Finnish hockey fans had the pleasure of seeing five Finnish players selected in the first two rounds of the draft for only the second time in history. In the domestic SM-Liiga, Helsinki-based HIFK, traditionally one of the stronger teams in the league, captured the Kanada Cup by defeating an upstart Espoo Blues club that had finished night in the regular season but reached the playoff finals.
A couple of college freshmen give the Wild’s faithful hope for the future, but the European contingent offers ample promise as well. Erik Haula and Jason Zucker are names that even the most casual fan can be familiar with, thanks to their playing in or around Minnesota on a regular basis. Though the prospect pool has been affected by injuries, the overall performance for the young men has been pretty solid.