The Minnesota Wild are in the midst of preparing for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Without a second round pick, the Wild as of now are heading into the draw with a first round pick, a third, a fourth, a fifth, two sixths and a seventh. In what is considered to be a very weak draft class, the lack of a second round pick is concerning when you take into account GMs consider two future NHL regulars per seven-round draft to be successful. However, is this truly an important draft for Minnesota?
The answer to that is likely a "no". Currently, Minnesota has the 18th overall selection before falling all the way to 79th before making its next selection. Though Wild GM Chuck Fletcher could potentially trade back into the second round, the present absence of a pick in the 31-60 range means No. 18 needs to be a good one.
Some of the latest mocks have Minnesota drafting Boston College freshman netminder Thatcher Demko, a pick that would certainly go a long way in securing the team's future between the pipes. However, the Wild has no history of selecting a goaltender that high in the draft, and still could use another scorer in the system as the prospect pool lacks elite upside in the forward prospect ranks after Jason Zucker and Mario Lucia. Some young scorers projected to be selected around Minnesota's slot include Windsor C/RW Joshua Ho-Sang, Saskatoon RW Nikita Scherbak, Moncton LW Ivan Barbashev and Halifax LW Nikolaj Ehlers.
Granted, I may have just made this draft out to be more important than it actually is, but it pales in comparison to how important 2015 is to the Wild brass. Though Minnesota still only has seven picks in next year's draft, the team has made it clear it's not interested in parting with any of them, particularly in the first three rounds. When you consider the fact that 2015 is projected to be one of the deepest draft classes in league history, it's very easy to see where the Wild is coming from.
Fletcher, assistant GM Brent Flahr and Minnesota's scouting staff have done a fantastic job assembling arguably the best young pool of talent in the league--one iffy draft isn't going to change that. The Wild will get a solid player at 18th overall, but there's no guarantee he'll be this team's next Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle or Nino Niederreiter. Odds are good the team will draft a better version of Zack Phillips, and fans should be okay with that.