Coming off an all-around disappointing season for the Minnesota Wild that saw a coach fired, the biggest midseason slump since 2012, and a first round exit at the hands of the Dallas Stars, the Minnesota Wild select Michael McLeod with the fifteenth overall pick in the NHL 2016 Draft.
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The Wild are in the process of restocking the cabinet, after trading draft picks and prospects away for Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson, Chris Stewart, Sean Bergenheim, Chris Porter, and a bevy of assorted rentals. This restocking has been made more difficult by General Manager Chuck Fletcher’s propensity to trade draft picks for rentals, many of whom are third- or fourth-line grinders.
As such, the Wild don't have an embarrassment of riches in any prospect department. There are no NHL-ready goaltenders in the pipeline, Joel Eriksson-Ek and Alex Tuch are the top two prospects. Jordan Greenway and Kirill Kaprizov look promising, and recent signing Sam Anas could be a decent player.
Defensively, Louis Belpedio, Mike Reilly, and Gustav Olofsson are the top prospects. Reilly saw time in the NHL this season, while Beldpedio likely needs another year of development. Gustav has had two injury-riddled seasons, but could see NHL time in the next year if he stays healthy.
In other words: the Wild just need to take the best player at fifteen. The other option would be to trade down and try to increase the number of picks. There was some discussion with the team at Raw Charge about this possibility. Tampa wanted to move into the mid-teens, and the Wild are hoping for more picks. The offer on the table was the 27th overall pick, 44th overall pick, and Cedric Paquette for the 15th pick and a Wild player (possibly Jason Pominville or Thomas Vanek). The Wild were uninterested in Paquette; the only Lightning player interesting to Minnesota was Tyler Johnson, who Tampa was unwilling to part with.
As such, the Wild pick Michael McLeod.
Michael McLeod: Minnesotan Through and Through
Michael McLeod is the 18-year-old centerman from Mississauga, Ontario, where he played for the Steelheads in the OHL. As a steelhead, McLeod put up 61 points in 57 games, coming in the form of 21 goals and 40 assists.
A responsible two-way center, McLeod’s largest strengths are his skating and the ability to create his own shot. This means he can pop in goals himself, or set up a teammate while defenses focus on McLeod. He is a fast skater who occasionally struggles with handling the puck at high speeds.
Coming into the draft, there were several players the Wild were hoping would fall to them. Kiefer Bellows is the consensus pick by most mock drafts. Michael McLeod was another target, and we are delighted to have him on board. His fast skating and offensive creativity will fit right with what the Wild need. The fact that he is defensively responsible is even better. The 6’2” 190-pound center has a bright future, and we can’t wait to see him be Minnesota’s top-line center.