So far, we have ventured through the picks of 2000 and 2001. We have seen the great in Mikko Koivu, and we have seen the horrible, trading a fifth round pick to move up five spots and pick Chris Heid. The highs and lows of the Dark Ages have taken us for a vomit inducing thrill ride, but we haven't seen anything yet.
After the jump, we'll meet the class of 2002.
Round One: Pierre-Marc Bouchard - If there has ever been a more polarized player in the Wild system, I don't know who it would be. The raw talent of Bouchard is amazing. He can skate, he has a shot, he has vision of the ice, and can make a tape-to-tape pass through five defenders. The re-introduction of the Spin-o-rama to the NHL is thanks to Butch. However, that spin move on the blue line is enough to drive any Wild fan to drink heavily, and his seeming allergy to shooting the puck is sickening.
I think I speak for us all when I say we were excited to see what Butch could do as a centerman. It is his "natural" position, and may have been on the Havlat - Latendresse line right now. Imagine the passes he could make to those two. It was not to be. A concussion has likely taken this entire season from Butch, and we will need to wait until next year to see what he can do.
Biggest "ARG!" moment in this? Alexander Semin was chosen six picks after Butch.
Result: Neutral. He has shown flash and ability, even in a defensive system. Until we can see what he can do in this new system, we need to reserve judgment. Let's just say, I have my doubts.
Second Round: Josh Harding - Harding was the heir apparent to Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson. When it was his time to move to the Wild bench and learn the craft, his back went bad and the Wild went out and signed some unknown guy from Finland. Harding was done, we just hadn't figured that out yet. Now, his role is clearly defined as the back-up, and he is known throughout the NHL as the guy who never got a chance. His value to the club appears to be only as trade bait at this point. Hopefully he gets his chance soon.
Result: Neutral - Minor bust. A second round pick should be a pick that contributes to the franchise. While Harding has served his role admirably, he has contributed very little to the success of the franchise as a whole.
Third Round: Due to trades, the Wild had two picks in this round, one right after the other.
Mike Erickson (F) - Looking at stats and the number of teams he played for, Erickson doesn't seem as though hockey was truly his calling. He went to the U of M before transferring to Western Michigan University, a well known hockey powerhouse. After college, he dumped immediately into the ECHL before jumping ship completely and heading for Europe. The last season he has reported stats was 2008-09 in Europe.
Barry Brust (G) - I had best be nice here, as Brust is Ms. Conduct's favorite person in the whole world. That said, Brust has never made the NHL break through. This is likely due to Harding always overshadowing the rest of the goalies in the system, and the Wild continuing to draft goalies despite no need for them. My understanding is that teams should not draft for immediate need, but rather to build a future for the organization. My understanding is also that they should not be drafting goalies for the Aeros. If they had Harding, why did they continue to draft goalies?
Brust has played consistently and solid throughout his career. This season he has seen a back and forth between the Aeros and the ECHL Everblades. Where ever he is, he has played well. Would be good for him to get out of the Wild system and try and make a big break.
Result: (Sorry Ms. C) Bust. Third rounders need to add value, as well. From the big league perspective, he has not done that. Love ya, Brusty. Nothing but love.
Valterri Fillpula was taken 12 picks after Brust.
Fourth Round: As part of the Manny Fernandez deal in 2000, the Wild gave their fourth round pick to Dallas. Dallas then traded it to the Kings. They drafted Aaron Rome with said pick. No real loss there.
Round Five: Not sure why the fifth round pick is so low in this draft. There were several conditional picks included in previous trades, I would guess that played into it.
Armands Berzins (F) - Played two seasons in the ECHL before heading over seas. He is currently with Dynamo Riga of the KHL.
James Wisniewski was taken with the next pick.
Round Six: Matt Foy (F) - Foy seemed to be progressing fairly well through the system. He made progress on the offensive side of the game and earned a taste of the NHL. In 19 games with the Wild, he had only 5 points. He then put up a 40 point and 50 point season, topping 120 PIMs in both with the Aeros. He was called back up the next two seasons, and again fell flat. He took a turn with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, and is playing this season in the CHL in Arizona.
Result: Neutral. Again, a sixth round pick can;t be counted on to be a team changer. He certainly looked to be coming along, but eventually ran into a wall.
Round Seven: Niklas Eckerblom (RW) - A super long shot pick, Eckerblom never even made the trip to North America.
Maxime Talbot, Penguin game 7 hero was chosen before the Wild could pick again.
Round Eight: Christoph Brandner (LW) - Played 35 games with the Wild in 2003-04 campaign, earning 9 points. He then spent the remainder of that season, and the follwoing season with the Aeros before going back over seas. He is currently playing for the same team he was drafted off of in Austria.
Dennis Wideman was taken shortly after Brandner
Result: Small win. An eight round pick put in 35 games in the NHL. Not too bad.
Round Nine: In what can only be He Who Shall No Longer be Named's finest hour, the Wild secured two picks in the ninth round. It is likely that the reason the eight and ninth rounds were eventually done away with are found here.
Mikhail Tyuyapkin - Wilderness reader Jonsey's favorite draft pick, Tyuyapkin has got to have one of the cooler names in Wild history. However, that is about all he ever panned out to be. "Yaps," as I like to call him, never left Russia and is currently playing for Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo of the KHL.
Mike Hannula (F) - "Mikey Bigs" played one season for the Aeros, registering 27 points in 67 games, and likely realized that North American hockey was not his cup of tea. He returned to the Swedish Elite League, and is currently playing for the Ufa Salavat Yulayev (yes, that is the real name) of the KHL.
Summary: Another convoluted draft during the height of the Dark Ages. Bouchard is the best pick of this draft, and he is a fringe candidate at this point. Harding could turn out to be a super stud, but it won't be for the Wild. Brust has made fans, but will not be an NHL goalie anytime soon. More picks that never even came close to NHL action. I would guess this is common place for all NHL teams, but it was a calling card of our beloved GM. Looking at a grade? I give it a C-.