Originally, we weren't going to post this story today, knowing that traffic is down on the weekend. After thinking about it, it works out perfectly. We can leave the poll and discussion open until Tuesday, giving us full time to debate it at length, should we need to.
First, though, the Bruins had a good day yesterday. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, and the fans chose to bolster the blueline depth for the organization, adding Ryan Murphy to the stable. A smallish puck moving, offensive defenseman, Murphy will add an interesting twist to the team, to be certain. With Zdeno Chara back there, Murphy is going to look like a smurf, but hopefully a highly skilled smurf.
So, Wild fans here is who is gone:
1. Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2. Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog
3. Florida Panthers: Adam Larsson
4. New Jersey Devils: Sean Couturier
5. New York Islanders: Jonathan Huberdeau
6. Ottawa Senators: Ryan Strome
7. Atlanta Thrashers: Mika Zibanejad
8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dougie Hamilton
9. Boston Bruins: Ryan Murphy
After the jump, it is our turn. Time to choose the Wild's 2011 draft pick.
Where to begin? Reading over Dan's depth analysis the past few days, I am more encouraged than in recent years. The depth at goalie has been bolstered in the past two days, adding Darcy Kuemper to compete with Matt Hackett for goalie of the future. The defensive prospects haven't changed much, but may become a much bigger deal if Chuck Fletcher gets active in the trade market.
The glaring hole remains at forward. The Wild have some solid prospects at center with Mikael Granlund, Casey Wellman, and Cody Almond. Joel Broda has fizzled, and Anthony Hamburg is still a long shot, but both could turn things around. Having three very promising prospects at center is a welcome change, but is it enough? What if Granlund is a flop? What if Almond gets tired of waiting? What if Wellman isn't what everyone dreams he can be?
Looking at the wings, things get ugly. As Dan explained, there is little or nothing in the stable at Right Wing. While Carson McMillan could be the next Cal Clutterbuck, he is certainly not the next Martin Havlat. That's ok, but in an organization that needs offensive prowess, it would certainly be nice to see a Havlat coming up the ranks. Don't get me wrong, another Cal Clutterbuck would be great, if the current Clutterbuck weren't already here. The depth on the right side is very thin.
Flipping to the left wing, things look much better with Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Erik Haula, Johan Larsson, Chad Rau, and of course, Colton Gillies. There are some physical guys, some skill guys, and some role players in that mix. The left side of the ice looks pretty solid. That is if they all develop into NHL players. Anyone want to take the odds that happens? Someone is going to burn out, someone will rise to the top. Just because it looks deep now, doesn't mean it always will be.
All of this leaves us to discuss and choose. Do the Wild add to defensive depth in the hopes of trading from the top and filling from the bottom? Do they add another blue chip forward prospect? Hell, do they trade down if their guy looks to be safe?
The player Dan is heavy on, and every other mock drafter, is Mika Zibanejad. However, in our particular mock, he is already gone. Plenty of players are left on the board, all with plenty of talent. Zach Phillips, Joel Armia, and Sven "Steven" Bartschi. American Brandon Sadd is still out there, big defenseman Duncan Siemens is also available as well as Nathan Beaulieu, Jamie Oleksiak, Mark McNeil, and the wild card Russian Alexander Khokhlachev.
All top end talent, all available at the tenth pick in our mock draft. The question is... what do the Wild want? That, my friends, falls to you. Let's hear it. Make your case, and cast your votes. The future is at stake.