The Wild, for the first time in their history, do not have a first round pick.
As of now, anyway. There's been a hint on Twitter by Mike Russo of the Star Tribune that the Wild will try to trade up into the first round. It makes sense. It stands to reason that having the higher pick would be better- it would give the Wild the best chances to draft the best player possible.
However, this hypothetical first-round pick would almost certainly cost their second-rounder, and unless the Wild give up a roster player in addition, perhaps one of their two third-round picks as well.
Is it necessary to trade into the first round? Brent Flahr's track record would suggest not.
Since the Wild changed their draft table over from former assistant GM Tommy Thompson to current Assistant GM Brent Flahr, the Wild have had a knack at picking up useful prospects in the second round. Let's take a quick look at his five second round picks with the Wild.
Brett Bulmer (2010- 37th pick): While Bulmer really struggled this season in Houston, he showed improvement in his final junior season, and even flashed moments where he was an effective forward at the NHL in 2011. What he can learn from 2012's struggles will go a long way to determining his future, but there is absolutely room in the system for his skill and frame. He's still a worthwhile prospect.
Johan Larsson (2010- 56th pick): Larsson will not be playing with the Minnesota Wild, at least, not anytime soon. But the Wild were able to use him to parlay him into Jason Pominville, a bona fide first-line talent. Excellent value.
Jason Zucker (2010- 59th pick): All he's done is score an OT winner in the playoffs. Yawn! But seriously, Zucker represents the most substantial return from a second round pick of the Wild thus far, and it looks as if he's going to be a good player for the Wild. A steal.
Mario Lucia (2011- 60th pick): The 6'2" Lucia has managed to tear it up in the BCHL, and had a promising start in the CCHA in his first two years since being drafted. His 32 games for Notre Dame saw him score 12 goals and 23 points. That was a similar outcome to Charlie Coyle's first season at Boston College (37 GP; 7-19-26). He'll spend at least another year in college, and has been overshadowed by more NHL-ready talents, but Lucia is poised to become one of the most talked-about prospects in the Wild system.
Raphael Bussieres (2012- 46th pick): Obviously, the jury is most out on the most recent second-rounder, Raphael Bussieres. With the growth of their prospect pool, especially in terms of talent that is close to (or is) NHL-ready, the Wild have been taking longer-term prospects- Lucia, to an extent, fits this mold, as well. But similarly to fellow second-round project Brett Bulmer, Bussieres is a potential power-forward who improved greatly in juniors, raising his point total from 44 to 68 in his post-draft year. Continued improvement will further put him on the radar in prospect circles.
It's important to know two things. The first being that these aren't done deals. These guys have, at best, barely received a taste of NHL experience, and thusly we don't know whether these moves have been actually good moves, or if they're just guys like Ondrej Fiala, or Roman Voloshenko, prospects with talent who flamed out, nonetheless. The book hasn't been written on any of these prospects, including Zucker. The second being that it almost certainly isn't all due to the Wild brass' skill. Of course, that does come into play, but in terms of drafting and developing, luck can be the largest factor in finding successful prospects. Sure-fire bets can flame out, and guys can come from nowhere. If Detroit knew what Pavel Datsyuk was going to be, for example, they'd have never let him fall to Round 2, let alone Round 7. The Wild's scouting has done a great job, but perhaps so many promising players drafted after the first round is a run that can't continue on this rate.
Anyway, regardless of whether it's sustainable or not, there's every reason to have confidence in the Wild being able to find useful prospects, even without the aid of a first round pick. Every second rounder under the Fletcher/Flahr regime has shown promising returns early in their careers, to say nothing of later round successes like Darcy Kuemper, Tyler Graovac, and Johan Gustafsson.
Perhaps the Wild ought not to try using a second rounder to obtain a first, but try to package those two third-round picks for an additional second.