With the 2009 NHL Draft coming to an end, let's see if we can gather what others are saying about how the Wild did. Seems like many are high on the stockpiling of picks, then moving them for Kyle Brodziak, as he's an improvement at center over what the Wild had last season.
Here is the Chuck Fletcher transcript, and I think I picked up on the end of Dan Fritsche’s Wild career. Right when they traded for Kyle Brodziak, I thought, "That makes Fritsche expendable." I asked Fletcher if Fritsche will be qualified to retain his rights Monday, and you’ll see his answers below. Talked to Todd Richards about Brodziak, too, for tomorrow’s paper. Remember, he coached him in Wilkes-Barre. You’ll see all that below and Tommy Thompson on the draft picks.
Chuck Fletcher didn't fill the immediate hole on next year's roster he was hoping to during the opening round of the NHL draft Friday night, but the rookie general manager did deliver two big things to the Wild and State of Hockey. Extra draft picks and a bona fide, real life, born-and-bred Minnesotan. Check Eden Prairie High School star defenseman Nick Leddy's birth certificate. It says "Edina," which should please the provincial Minnesotans who have been all but demanding that the homestate team take the hometown kid.
The Minnesota Wild had Budish ranked high and hoped to move into the second round to nab him, but they had to settle for using their third-round pick on Matt Hackett, the top-rated North American goaltender in the draft. Hackett, 19, was 34-15-3 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .913 save percentage for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He is the nephew of Jeff Hackett, a 15-year goaltender with six NHL teams. "He's basically made me the goalie I am today," Matt said. "When I was 9 or 10, starting to be a goalie, he would take me out on the ice with all the NHLers from around town — Steve Rucchin, Jeff Carter, Andy McDonald. "It was fun. I got in the hand and it would kill; I felt like I broke my hand. But it was fun. I mean having those guys come down on you at full speed really prepared me for the season. I loved it."
The Wild had a shot at the top-ranked Minnesotan in the NHL entry draft Friday when their 12th pick came up and Gophers forward Jordan Schroeder was still on the board. Instead, they moved down and picked the local kid they liked a little better, Eden Prairie defenseman Nick Leddy. The selection should be welcome news for Wild fans clamoring for local flavor on their pro Hockey team, even if the team did pass -- twice! -- on Schroeder, the WCHA rookie of the year last season for Minnesota and the top-rated collegian in the draft.
Since the 2003 draft, 113 high school players have been tabbed by NHL teams. In 2008 15 (7.1 percent) of all North Americans drafted were high schoolers. This year, a record 19 were selected (11.1 percent), including Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School defenseman Nick Leddy, the top scholastic skater chosen, who went No. 16 to the Minnesota Wild. "There's a little pressure (being selected as the hometown guy), but I guess you can always rise to it," Leddy said. "That's the kind of player I am. In pressure games, I always seem to play big."
The sales calls will soon go out fast and furious. The Wild is going to advertise the arena, the passionate Minnesota fan base and the offensive -- stress on the word offensive -- system that will be installed by a young, innovative coach. Free agency opens Wednesday, and Leipold says the Wild has the loot to throw at upper-echelon players. "We want to be a team that's competing next year and we're going to have money available to sign one of those top guys, and I'm including Marian Gaborik in that," Leipold said. "Gaborik can still be the guy. If not, there are three, four, five other guys you would put in that category. "We're a team that's got everything to offer. And we would have the cap space to do it and the ability and the desire to do it."
The big trade Chuck Fletcher was looking for never materialized in Montreal, though he did acquire one player who no doubt will play a role for the Wild next season. Midway through Saturday's leg of the NHL entry draft, Fletcher sent a fourth-round pick to Edmonton for center Kyle Brodziak, who played at Wilkes-Barre when new Wild coach Todd Richards was the coach and Fletcher was the GM.
Brodziak played on the fourth line in Edmonton, but the Wild desperately needed to bolster their depth at center. Mikko Koivu was the only player on the team to give them a consistent presence in the face-off circle last season. Brodziak, who played for new Wild coach Todd Richards at Wilkes Barre in the AHL, won 51.6 percent of his faceoffs last season. Fletcher has called draft picks "the lifeblood of an organization," which underscores the impact he believes Brodziak can make with the Wild next season.