Recapping a Wild Weekend
Coming off a season that saw them drift from first place in December to missing the playoffs completely, the Minnesota Wild are seeking to reinvigorate a fanbase that has now witnessed three straight seasons without a playoff berth.
On draft weekend they walked away with seven prospects and a new dose of optimism. The Wild balanced the picks between four forwards and three defensemen.
Among the seven are two Minnesota natives, Shattuck St. Mary's defenseman John Draeger and Edina High School left winger Louis Nanne. Nanne is the grandson of the one time North Stars general manager turned high school hockey commentator of the same name.
The picks reflect the Wild's effort to capitalize on the abundance of talent the state of hockey produces each year. The ploy could keep attendance up while the franchise works through this rebuilding phase.
The jewel of the Wild's haul is first round pick, number seven overall Matt Dumba.
Dumba is a swift skating offensive defenseman out of Red Deer of the Western hockey league. The six foot d-man put up fifty-seven points in sixty-nine games for the Rebels.
The Wild hope that he can fill the void left by puck moving, swift skating, Brent Burns whom they traded to San Jose at last year's draft. Dumba also brings a physical game that compliments his offensive skills, leaving scouts to compare him favorably to Pittsburgh's Kris Letang and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty.
Still, first round defensemen rarely make the big club in their first year eligible even those picked as high as Dumba. The young defenseman does not turn eighteen until July 25, and his critics claim that he needs to do a better job of picking his spots.
In other words, Dumba tries to do too much offensively at the expense of his defensive responsibilities. Such shortcomings are common in young defenseman especially ones as offensively gifted as Dumba.
It is worth noting that the Senators Erik Karlsson, a similarly talented offensive defenseman, posted a -30 in 2010-2011 before erupting for 78 points and a +16 mark this past season.
Even Doughty struggled the last two seasons with his risk taking before figuring it out in time for the Kings cup run. Dumba will need at least one more year of seasoning in either junior or for the Wild's AHL club before he pulls on the Wild sweater.
The good news is that the Wild have an enviable wealth of young talent already assembled.
Jason Zucker captained the United States at the 2012 World Juniors tournament and signed with the team after completing his sophomore season with the University of Denver. Finnish forward Mikael Granlund is regarded as one of the top offensive prospects in the NHL.
In a few years time, Dumba could join the young guns to turn the Wild from perennial also-rans into genuine contenders.