This time of year, there is usually very little news, especially surrounding the Wild. The executives are busy making their draft list, interviewing players, scouting at the combine... they're busy doing all of their secret squirrel, classified, insider stuff that they do before the draft.
That's why it came as such a shock when Russo reported via Twitter that the Wild have opted to not sign 2009 sixth round draft pick Jere Sallinen. I'll give you all a minute to collect yourselves. Have a chair. Breathe into a paper bag.
I know that many of you will be screaming mad about this. How can the Wild just let such a multi-talented, high powered prospect just walk away? It is truly a disappointment to everyone here at Hockey Wilderness. From just days after the draft when Hockey's Future rated him a D-level prospect, we knew he was someone to watch.
And now... it ends before it could ever begin. Make the jump for more Jere Sallinen fun.
Before any of you run to the Stone Arch Bridge to protest this non-signing by jumping into the frigid Mississippi, take a minute to explore the numbers, and see just what a stud this guy really was. After all, if you're going to end it all, you may as well go into it with full knowledge, right?
Now, let's be clear on this. While he had zero points in just six games played in the SM Liiga the year before he was drafted, he did have 30 points in the junior SM Liiga. That, if nothing else, shows vision and skill. Where he showed his real talent was in his draft year, putting up three points in nine games played in the Junior SM Liiga, and another 11 points in the men's league the year after he was drafted.
Eleven points, people. That's nothing to scoff at, don't don't let me catch you scoffing at the 11 points. This is a scoff free zone.
The guy put up eleven points playing against men, while he was just 19 years old. Name one player that has ever done better at a younger age in the SM Liiga. You can't do it can you? No one, in the entire history of the SM Liiga has ever scored eleven or more points while younger than 20 years old. It just has never happened.
Wait... I'm getting word that about 557 different players have scored more than 11 points in the SM Liiga while under 20.
Still, Jere Sallinen showed real promise, otherwise, why would Scorched Earth and his band or arsonists drafted him? Sure, it's just a sixth round pick, a round when risks are taken, but Tommy Thompson and his scouts have such a strong track record of drafting strong players in late rounds, that it is simply unfathomable that Sallinen wouldn't work out to be an NHL star.
Yes, there were signs that his development wasn't progressing as quickly as hoped. His 105 total points ever scored while playing hockey where anyone kept statistics should have been a red flag, but hey, no Minnesota Wild player has ever broke 100 points in a season. Why should Sallinen be expected to put up numbers in his entire career that no Wild player has put up in a single season?
You people simply expect too much. Just back off the guy, OK?
The Real Story
Now that I have exhausted my sarcasm quota for the day, let's talk briefly about what this actually means. What this means is: absolutely nothing. Sallinen was a nothing pick by a nothing group of scouts putting their sixth round chips on black eight, and spinning the wheel. The sixth round is where you take players as a favor to old friends, where you draft the kid who is the son of your mechanic, just so they can say they were drafted.
For every Pavel Datsyuk, there are 17,245 Jere Sallinens. If you aren't following along, the sixth round is where you either take a gamble, or do someone a favor. Not signing a sixth round pick in the NHL has about as much impact on the team as the pizza guy delivering a sausage pizza rather than the pepperoni you ordered.
Scratch that... you should be ticked about the pizza. You should not be ticked about not signing Jere Sallinen.
Unless, of course, you think Jere Sallinen could have turned it around in the NHL and been the next Mikko Koivu. In which case, he will be available June 24th. The Rangers pick 15th overall.