Yesterday I thought it may be fun to look at the epic failure that had been the Minnesota Wild's draft strategy during the Dark Ages. It seems to have been a hit, so today we continue with the picks from 2001, the draft that brought us none other than Captain Koivu.
Glad you are enjoying the series. Hope you are enjoying the tape-delay, split channel, late night Olympic hockey as well.
After the jump, of course.
We'll jump right into it today:
Round 1: Mikko Koivu - Probably the best pick ever made by He Who Shall No Longer be Named. While Gaborik is the scoring leader, Koivu is the leader of the franchise. He has quietly played his way to being one of the best players in the NHL, and somehow we still hear that he is an unknown. Not sure who he is unknown to, but it's not GMs, and it's not hockey fans.
Funny tid-bit. Anahiem had the pick just before the Wild in this draft. They took Stanislav Chistov. Yeah. Who? Tampa took Alexandr Svitiov two picks before. Mike Komisarek was the next pick after Koivu, and the Wild's Chuck Kobasew was chosen eight picks after Mikko, by the Bruins.
Result: Huge Win. Huge.
Round 2: Kyle Wanvig - As we will see as we go through this, the second round was hit or miss during the Dark Ages. Wanvig became a journeyman AHLer, not something you look for from a second round pick. He had 12 points in 51 games for the Wild in 2005-06, along with 64 PIMs. Again, not exactly what you want to use your second round pick on.
Round 3: First let's be clear here. The Wild messed up the third round of this draft. They traded traded a pick in it for Andy Sutton, then traded their pick and a fifth to move up. So, the two picks are from draft day trades, and even after looking at it about seven times, I have no idea whose picks they were supposed to be.
Chris Heid (D) - Wait, sorry, who? Chris Heid. Oh. Yeah, um, Chris Heid, right. Heid bounced around the AHL and ECHL before finally heading overseas. Last report puts him on the Augsburg Panthers of the German hockey league.
The best part of this pick? He Who Shall No Longer be Mentioned traded the fifth round pick to move up from 79 to 74 to make it.
Result: Ahem, BUST.
Round 3: (Second Pick) - Stephane Veillieux - The Wild received this pick, I believe, from the Hurricanes in trade for Scott Pellerin. They also acquired a third from the Senators in a trade for Curtis Leschysyn. Steph was an excellent player for the Wild. Coming into the NHL, he was touted as a fast, high scoring ability type winger. Then he met Jacques Lemaire and became a third and fourth line energy guy.
After a contract dispute with the team, in which the Wild slapped him across the face a few times and disrespected him completely, Veillieux left for the Tampa Bay Lightning who promised him time on a line with Martin St. Louis. However, Lemaire's teaching has destroyed any offensive thought in Steph's game, and he is back on a third line.
Chosen two picks after Steph? Patrick Sharp.
Result: This is a hard one. I'll say Neutral. He played well, but his role was not what it should have been. He eventually left for no return.
Round Four: Tony Virta (RW) - Eight games with the Wild in 2001-02, then a season and a half with the Aeros before going back to Finland to play, where he remains today.
Round Five: No Pick. Traded away.
Round Six: No Pick. Unsure why.
Round Seven: Derek Boogaard - No Henrik Zetterberg, but I think we can all agree Boogey has made his own mark on the NHL. After working his way up from the ECHL, Boogaard has become a top level enforcer, even in an age in which the enforcer role is a dying breed.
Round Eight: Jake Riddle (LW) - Never made it out of the ECHL for extended time. Currently in the CHL.
(Note that tat rounds after the eighth were eventually eliminated)
Summary: Hard to fault a draft that brought Mikko Koivu to town, but this draft was a sign. Trading picks left and right, giving up picks to move up five spots in the third round, and willingness to draft players that did not fit the system. With a stud like Koivu being chosen, this draft should be an easy A. I'll give it a solid C. Too many mistakes weighing down the selection of Koivu.
(Author's note: If anyone can figure out why the Wild did not have a sixth round pick, you earn extra credit.)
H/T to History of NHL Trades Awesome site. Great info, in easy to find format.