So we made it through the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Your Minnesota Wild were not able to get themselves up to the podium through a trade which has a lot of Wild fans upset. Fletcher has made promises to make this team better. He has continually made trades and signed players trying to do that but the team has still struggled to make it out of the first round.
I get the frustration. I really do. I’ve been a big fan of Minnesota hockey for a long time now, and I’ve certainly had my share of heart-wrenching disappointments (see: 1990-91 North Stars). It sucks, but life goes on, right?
So Chuck Fletcher was not able to trade into the first round. My guess is his asking price for Marco Scandella was seen by NHL GM’s as being a tad too much, even in a weak draft. Jonas Brodin was floated around as a trade option as well. Fletcher likely didn’t want to lose him for any pick outside of the top 10, and as we saw tonight those picks were just not budging unless you’re the New York Rangers and willing to give up Derek Stepan for the 7th overall pick.
You want change, you want the team to do something to get better and get over that hump. To make a stronger push in the playoffs and actually make some noise for once and you want it now, right?
Unfortunately, outside of the top 5 picks, that really was not an option in this draft. Even inside the top 5 there were no sure-fire guarantees of a player that can step in now and make that kind of impact. Lets say Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick are the kind of game changing player a franchise is looking for. Do you know what it would have cost to get into the top 2 picks in this draft? Those are premium seats in a draft that did not feature a lot of set your hair on fire style players.
The fact that Fletcher wasn’t able to swing a deal might be slightly upsetting, but remember, this draft is sandwiched between the crazy Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft and free agency. There is all kinds of uncertainty in the league this offseason, and Fletcher should not be so willing to just give up the world for a possibility of a good future player.
Key word there folks, future player. Because like I said earlier, there was not a whole lot of sure things going in this draft. Any player the Wild might have been able to get their mitts on would in all likelyhood not have been on the team this fall. This draft class has a lot of developing left to do. You can listen to the draft guys on NBC tonight hyping up all these kids, but the fact of the matter is that we will not see many, if any of them in the league to start the 2017-18 season.
So Fletcher traded for Martin Hanzal and that cost the Wild their first round pick. A pick that would have netted them the 23rd overall selection this year. It really sucks that the trade for Hanzal did not pan out the way everyone had hoped it would. Does that mean it was a bad trade to make? With the benefit of hindsight, sure, but at the time bringing in Hanzal made loads of sense for Chuck Fletcher and the team. A big body center for a big push into the post season? Who doesn’t want that? That trade wasn’t going to come cheap, even if Hanzal was on an expiring contract.
Did Fletcher overpay? I’ll concede that. Once again with my 20-20 hindsight goggles on that trade broke the Wild going into the offseason. I can promise you though, if we were drinking from Lord Stanley’s cup right now, or even eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes from the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, that price tag would not be a great weight on the State of Hockey’s shoulders.
It’s a hindsight league my friends. We can parse all the fancy stats in the world and project what that means for the team going forward, but in the end this is a game about what you’ve done, and what you’re doing right now. Right now, the Wild are dealing with the consequences of rolling the dice. Just because that roll came up snake eyes that doesn’t mean Fletcher should pick up those dice again and make more potentially back breaking rolls. It was a boring first round of the draft for Minnesota, but right now I’d much rather have Fletcher sit on his hands unless there is some kind of can’t miss deal that falls on his table.