I wish I had the resources to go to a bunch of CHL games each year to scout players, visit the Elitserien , SM-liiga, KHL, Czech Extraliga, Slovak Extraliga and all their lower level leagues. It would be fun. But I don't. I'm not a scout; I'm a fan. But I like to think that I know my Wild. And I have an opinion. (Which I'm not afraid to share, even knowing someone else might rip it to shreds.)
So let's handicap the upcoming NHL draft with the Wild in mind. My methodology is to use the rankings and writeups as they appear on TSN.ca. While they are in bed with ESPN, I'm willing to trust what they say. I'm taking what they say on face value, and assuming all information is accurate. If you know something I don't know, by all means, please let me know.
You can read the TSN.ca player descriptions, so I'll just focus on what I think the Wild should be looking at and how I would rank the players in the top 10 and why.
- Nail Yakupov (TSN Ranking: 1) Aside from all the fun you can have with Yakupov's first name, from everything I've read, this kid is the second coming of Alex Ovechkin. Which is odd considering AO is still around. A bit smaller that AO, but great skating, great shot, and not afraid of bigger players.
- Mikhail Grigorenko (TSN Ranking: 2) Another second coming. This time of Evgeny Malkin. Seems like the type who's got some offensive skills, but questions about his desire and consistency.
- Filip Forsberg (TSN Ranking: 4) A power forward in the making. He is big and after filling out, he'll be a headache for opposing D-men. Not the best skater, though. If we let him play in Sweden for a few years before he comes over, he could be ready to jump straight to the NHL.
- Mathew Dumba (TSN Ranking: 5) Dumba is an offensive defenseman and described as one of the best shooters in the draft. Shooting is a weakness for us. He's a risk taker. I'm fine with that. He's a bit small at 6-0, 180.
- Alex Galchenyuk (TSN Ranking: 7) This guy is the sleeper, IMO. If Dumba and Forsberg are gone by the time we pick, I'd take Galchenyuk. He missed an entire year with an ACL injury, so there's a big risk. But the payoff would be tremendous: His upside is as a 1-2 NHL center. He's big (6-1, 200), has soft hands and can shoot.
- Jacob Trouba (TSN Ranking: 6) He's mean and can skate well. Big too.
- Ryan Murray (TSN Ranking: 3) Steady in our own end has not traditionally been our problem. But you wonder if Chuck Fletcher traded Nick Schultz because he knew he'd get a good shot at getting Ryan Murray?
- Radek Faska (TSN Ranking: 10) Another power forward type.
- Morgan Reilly (TSN Ranking: 8) Puck-rushing defenseman. Could be useful.
- Griffin Reinhart (TSN Ranking: 9) Offensive defenseman who doesn't use his size. Sound like someone else we know?
Obviously this is a defense-laden draft. So many good choices. I wish the Wild could have three of these guys. Forsberg, Dumba, and Galchenyuk are the ones I'll be watching with the most interest at the Draft.