Alright, so, we've covered the players we feel may be available at nine. We've made our selection in Mikael Granlund. In the interest of full information gathering, let's look at who everyone else thinks the Wild will take with the ninth selection.
Keep in mind that some of these are mock drafts, some are simply draft rankings. The rankings do not necessarily mean that author thinks the Wild will take the ninth rated player at the ninth pick, but for the purposes of this post, let's assume that's what it means, shall we?
Full list after the jump (and I will update if others come to my attention).
Other Mock Drafts
ProHockeyNews.com: Mikael Granlund
Puck Daddy: Ryan Johansen
Bob McKenzie, TSN: Jack Campbell
Jeff Marek, CBC: Vladimir Tarasenko
The Hockey News: Derek Forbert
Jackets Racket: Nick Bjugstad
NESN.com: Mikael Granlund
Canes Country: Ryan Johansen
RLD Hockey: Alexander Burmistrov
Mike Morreale, NHL.com: Alexander Burmistrov
Brad Holland, NHL.com: Jeff Skinner
Adam Kimelman, NHL.com: Jeff Skinner
MyNHLDraft.com: Jeff Skinner
The Program: Jeff Skinner
Fanhouse: Nick Bjugstad
The Hockey Writers: Ryan Johansen
If you would like more mock drafts, check out DC Pro Sports Report's database
Hockey Wilderness Write-ups for Each Player
(Clicking the player's name will take you to the full write up, and I have included one writer's opinion for each.)
Nathan: A Finnish center who is playing as a teenager with the men of the SM-Liiga, won the award for rookie of the year and most gentlemanly player, dons the Suomi sweater in international play and draws comparisons to Saku Koivu. Sound familiar? Granlund is the top international prospect, but not the top overall skater prospect because of his size. Many experts say he underperformed this season, but I can't imagine 40 points in 43 games playing against men instead of the boys of the CHL, NCAA or High School leagues as being underperforming.
Why he fits: The Wild need a playmaker and goals from the center position, something sorely lacking. Granlund is a slick skater, has exceptional vision, is likely the best passer in the draft and can finish, though it's not his main objective. However, this team needs a center, and Granlund seems to be the best bet.
Why he doesn't: He's a bit undersized at 5'10" 180, without blazing speed. He's a good skater, but not overly fast. He is, however, strong on his skates and has fantastic hands.
Is he NHL ready? Not yet, but bring him over from Finland this season and put him with the rest of the men in the AHL and let him loose. He'll be NHL-ready in a season or two.
Buddha: As mentioned above, Gudbranson has a slim chance of falling to 9. Ranked the 4th best NA skater by CSS, and chosen to go between 4-6 in every mock draft I have looked at, Gudbranson is never going to make it to the Wild. He draws comparisons to Chris Pronger, which I suppose is good or bad depending on which quality it is they are comparing to. Personally, I wouldn't want my name in the same sentence as Pronger's, but that's just me.
Would the Wild take him at 9 if, by some miracle, he drops that far? You had best be on the phone betting your house, your car, and your next year's worth of salary that they would. But Buddha, a d-man? Yes, a d-man. A top paring, ready very soon, large, physical d-man with the ability to add offense. Yeah, like you wouldn't want that.
Circular Theory: Here's a guy I don't understand the love. I believe he is a good prospect but do not think should be in the same class as Johansen, Niederrieter or Connolly. He is technically sound and posses impressive athleticism. He is also very cool under pressure and impressed during the recent NHL scouting combine. However, when I saw him during the WJC, I believed some goals he left in, he should have saved. But nonetheless, he is a very good prospect but at #9, I rather the Wild invest their pick in a forward prospect.
Buddha: This is a good pick. Problem is, I don't think he makes it this far. Despite CSB having him as the 12th rated NA skater, The Hockey News has him going 8th, and most drafts have him gone before the Wild select. If wishing were able to make it so, this would be the Wild's pick. 60 points in 65 WHL games including 36 goals, added to 10 points on 6 goals in the WJC... this kid can score. He has some size, and could still add some bulk. There are few questions about his game, and no one seems to think he falls to nine, except CSS. So, who knows. He is in the group of players that still need some junior time, and likely a year or two in the AHL.
If he is available at nine, the Wild will not pass on him. But don't bet your house on that being the case.
Circular Theory: One of the fastest risers in the draft, Johansen has some wondering whether he can continue his impressive performance. Known mainly as a playmaker, Johansen has the ability to beat players one-on-one. He boasts impressive on-ice vision as well as the ability to forecheck effectively. He will need time in the juniors to develop his consistency and fill out his frame so it'll be awhile before he hits the pros. While Wild fans would rather draft a goal-scoring forward, adding any offensive forward will be a welcomed addition.
Buddha: Connolly is the third ranked NA skater, and chosen to go fourth by The Hockey News. In fact, only one mock draft I can find has this kid slipping to the Wild. If he does, pick him, and pick him fast, because he is a much better talent than a #9 pick. He did have some injury issues this season, hip flexor issues, which likely will make some teams hold their breath before making the pick. If the medical staff feels comfortable with his ability to stay healthy, then he is a great pick. If he going to be the next coming of Marian Gaborik, then draft him and send him to get surgery the next day. If healthy, I would certainly say he is only a year or two from the NHL.
When all is said and done, Connolly likely does not come close to going to the Wild.
JS: Speedy, gritty and magnificent hands, Burmistrov is likely the best Russian in this draft (That's right Kabanov!), but make no mistake, he plays the North American game. He's an able penalty killer, can block shots, and likes to throw what little weight he has around. That's right, he's rather small, so he absolutely needs to bulk up if he wants his shot in the NHL, because he may have trouble on talent alone, but then again, it has been done, but only truly remarkable players are both very small and NHL stars at the same time. We all know however, that when a Russian star is good, he tends to be VERY good, so hey, I think Burmistrov, unlike many other Russians, wouldn't be a risky pick, because he clearly wants to play in the NHL, and the Wild would profit from an exciting player like him! All he needs is to build up his frame a little bit, but no use rushing him. A year in the AHL at the very least.
Nathan: There's a big-time forward prospect from Minnesota who will likely be available for the Wild to take in the first round you say? The Wild call Minnesota the State of Hockey, you say? Interesting.
We all know the reaction of Wild fans when Chuck Fletcher passed on the quickly falling Jordan Schroeder and instead picked 2009 Mr. Hockey, Nick Leddy (nevermind Schroeder's WJC success or the impact he had on the Manitoba Moose once he left the U, not to mention Leddy being shipped to Chicago for Cam Barker). Will the same reaction come should the Wild pass on Bjugstad and instead draft Derek Forbort? How about if they pass on Bjugstad and instead take Jeff Skinner, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen or someone else? I imagine that the provincial Minnesota hockey fan will be upset that the Wild again failed to grab the best prospect from Minnesota, but should they be?
Bjugstad is a freak. I've seen him play 15-20 times over the past two seasons, and you always notice him on the ice. He is a man amongst boys, even though he accelerated his studies to graduate a year early and head to the U of M (all comments re: Lucia and the failure to develop prospects aside). He has the build to be a prototypical power forward with excellent hands and vision. Can both make plays around the net and pick up the garbage as well as drive to the net to create his own play and finish when others set him up. He was fantastic at the combine, showing speed, strength and agility. The biggest drawback for Bjugstad is that he is at least 3-4 years away from the NHL. He'll be at the U for at least 2 seasons, then will need a year in the AHL to get up to professional speed. Would I take him at #9? Yes, but only if certain other guys were gone. He'll never last to the second round, and likely won't make it past St. Louis at 14 or Boston at 15.
JS: Watson was a part of the Windsor Spitfires' rise to glory, with his smart play and speed, but he truly exploded as a member of the Peterborough Petes, where he scored 20 points in 10 games. He was limited to 10 games with the Petes because of an injury suffered at the CHL prospects games while playing for team Cherry. He had helped kill a 5 on 3 PK in that game, indicating that he's very good in both ends of the ice. He was ejected in USA's gold medal game over Canada at the WJC because of a boarding call, indicating that this kid also plays with a lot of intensity, but he has to be careful. That being said, he hasn't been penalized very much during his OHL career, and while his numbers may not stand out when compared to a lot of other young guns, it was mostly because he played in a stacked team with limited ice time. He proved in his time with the Petes that he's the real deal, so much so that his ranking shot up 14 spots after the trade. He's a pretty tall fella, but could probably bulk up and maybe become a good power forward, sort of like a certain Guillaume Latendresse maybe? Well, he may be more of a playmaker than a sniper, but this kid's going to be very good two-way player in the league, and I don't think the Wild could go wrong with this guy. I think another 2 years of playing top line minutes and bulking up would make him a wonderful player in the NHL.
Circular Theory: Many thought the Wild would surely pick a forward in the 2009 draft but ended up disappointed when they select a defenseman in Nick Leddy. The Wild will have the ‘best-player-available' tactic in mind so a player like Derek Forbort will not be totally off the reservation. At 6'5" and 198lbs, Forbort is considered very raw but has all the tools to succeed such as hockey smarts, hard shot, long reach, balance and strength. While not as NHL-ready as Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley, Forbort has the potential to be the best defenseman in the draft. He will need time at University of North Dakota in which he will be able to learn to put his tools together on a consistent basis and to continue filling out his frame.
Buddha: Rated as the 34th best NA skater by Central Scouting, and picked to go 25th by The Hockey News. How this happens when a guy pots 50 goals and 90 points in 64 games in the OHL is difficult to comprehend. While I don't feel he is top 10 draft talent, someone is going to get him late in the first or early in the second, and they will be getting a steal. Criticized for his skating ability, it cost him from being ranked in the top three, but he should be able to pick that up in continued time in juniors, and some time in the AHL. He is not NHL ready, and like Etem, is a long term prospect. As much as I would love to see him in the system, he is not a #9 pick, and unless he falls all the way back to the Wild in the second, I don't it happening.
Nathan: Wheels. Mad, mad wheels. Proven scorer. Good on special teams, not so much in his own end (which may be an issue with the WHL in general, moreso than an indictment of Etem's defensive prowess). Now, understand that Etem is only 17. He's still 4+ years from the NHL, but that means he'll get time in the WHL, then the AHL to hone his two-way play, but this would be drafting a position of need for the future, not a position of need now. The kid isn't close to ready, but he has decent size already, though another couple of inches would be nice (see: Bjugstad, Nick). He definitely takes being in shape seriously, as he was a physical freak at the combine, so he seems to have a good work ethic. The biggest question is his playmaking. Do you want a center who thinks of scoring first, or do you move him to the wing? Honestly, I think he's a great selection, but not my number 1, because he's so far out.