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Draft Preview: Minnesota Wild – Stuck in No Min's Land

Minnesota’s world of mediocrity means no playoff runs and no high draft picks.

The Wild's playoff streak just ended at six years. Consider it a blessing for a team that was mired in mediocrity and couldn’t escape the second round over that span. They need to find some promising prospects to boost their fading farm system. At 12th overall, they have their highest draft slot since picking Mathew Dumba seventh in 2012.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: Oddly enough, a Bruce Boudreau-coached team ranked near the bottom of the league in offense in 2018-19. Key scorers Eric Staal and Jason Zucker regressed and, for the third time in four seasons, the Wild didn’t have a 30-goal scorer.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: Shipping out Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund for Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala secured younger forwards with upside and more years of team control left on their deals, so that was a start for GM Paul Fenton. But the Wild need to dig deep and draft high-upside forwards, especially considering how many of their best scorers are past their primes, from Staal to Zach Parise to Mikko Koivu. Fenton also must secure successors for minute-munching defenseman Ryan Suter and goalie Devan Dubnyk. There’s a lot of work to do. The Wild placed 27th in the 2019 Future Watch team rankings.

CAP SITUATION: Big contracts handed out during Chuck Fletcher’s time as GM prohibited the Wild from being major free-agent players the past half-decade. They have more breathing room this summer, but with RFAs Fiala, Donato and Joel Eriksson Ek needing deals, they aren’t swimming in cash. Trading away another veteran for picks and prospects would help.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: The Wild lack a slam-dunk prospect to make a difference as a rookie next season. The best bet is blueliner Louie Belpedio, who has shown toughness in the AHL and has gotten into a few NHL games already.

DID YOU KNOW: Might the Wild unite top prospect Kirill Kaprizov and Dmitry Sokolov on a line someday? The two were teammates with Russia’s under-18 team. The key for Sokolov will be to overcome conditioning issues.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Cal Clutterbuck, 72nd, ’06
Stephane Veilleux, 93rd, ’01
Anton Khudobin, 206th, ’04
Clayton Stoner, 79th, ’04
Darcy Kuemper, 161st, ’09
Erik Haula, 182nd, ’09
Lubomir Sekeras, 232nd, ’00
Derek Boogaard, 202nd, ’01
Ryan Jones, 111th, ’04
Justin Falk, 110th, ’07

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 104
100+ NHL GAMES: 11
PERCENT SUCCESS: 10.6%
NHL RANK: 22nd

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