We are getting closer and closer to the current season. I sure hope I get to type "neutral, still progressing" a few times in the next few of these. Somehow, I doubt it though. Let's get right to it, shall we?
Round One: Colton Gillies - Following the mistakes made with James Sheppard, the Wild brass decided that Gillies should sit in the press box and watch NHL hockey, rather than go back to juniors, and you know, play hockey. In one of the first moves that told us that Chuck Fletcher was a different type of GM, Gillies was sent to Houston, where it has become apparent that he truly needed that step. He is playing decent hockey in Houston, but certainly is not showing anything more than he did at the NHL level.
The best news with Gilles is that, save for a couple exceptions, most of the guys drafted around him are also still in development.
The worst news? The Wild traded their second round pick in this draft to move up three spots to get him. Ugh.
Result: Neutral. If he was still up with the Wild, I would call him a bust. Right now, he has been given the chance he needed. Playing in Houston, he will get to develop. He could still be a win.
Round Two: No pick. See above. Please, try not to gouge your own eyes out.
Third Round: No pick. Traded for Dominic Moore. Who was later waived and lost with no return. And then traded twice for second round picks in coming years.
Fourth Round: Justin Falk (D) - Currently in development with the Aeros, Falk looks to be playing some solid hockey. He has seven points (2G, 5A) in 57 games. From the numbers, another stay-at-home type d-man, but he is still young, and defensemen are notorious for taking a long time to develop.
Fifth Round: Cody Almond (C) - If you remember, Almond made his NHL debut just before the break. He played around three minutes in one game, and then was a scratch before being sent back to Houston for the Olympic break. Much has been said, all positive, about Almond. He has yet to define his role on a team, and thus fits anywhere on a team. He will likely be back up when the roster freeze is lifted.
Result: I'm going to say Win. He is a minor win at this point, and still in development. However, a fifth round pick is a long shot for the NHL at all, and Almond has received nothing but praise in recent months. I like this kid's chances.
Sixth Round: Harri Ilvonen (D) - Hey, a sixth round pick, who cares, right? Let's just burn it on a guy who will never play in North America, let alone for the Wild. OK, OK, so there is still a small chance he makes the NHL, but if you really believe that is going to happen, I would like you to share whatever you are on.
Seventh Round: Carson McMillan - We have heard of this guy now, haven't we. Recently suspended for four games for a bad hit, McMillan has always made his case by being physical. Being a seventh round pick, the expectations are usually fairly low, but with McMillan, he has showed he can play at every level. I would not be surprised to see him up with the Wild in the next couple years.
Result: Neutral, still in development. I like what I see, but he is not a win, yet.
Summary: The urge to kick He Who Shall Remain Nameless out of class is growing. Gillies is likely a good pick, but trading a second round pick to get him? Ridiculous. And then to shove him onto the NHL roster and attempt to castrate his career the same way they did with Shep? I just do not understand how this guy kept his job. No second round pick, no third round pick because of a bad trade that resulted in giving up a guy other GMs have traded for a second round pick not once, but twice? Sigh. A couple good late picks in McMillan and Almond. Falk could also be good. None of the three have proven themselves at an NHL level, but they still could, and that is much better than some of the drafts, right?
The stupid trading away of picks pulls this draft into the toilet. Could have been a decent draft if that had not happened. Late round picks currently in development will make or break this in the long term. Right now, I give the draft a D.