NHL Draft: Are The Wild Getting Back On Track? And The Mfan & Mr. Mohawk Invade Wrigley Field!

Marc Elliott


EAGLE MTN… The 2012 NHL entry draft was held over the weekend, and here are my thoughts. For the Minnesota Wild, jeez, I want to be optimistic about the club, but it has been a frustrating ride thus far, hasn’t it? And it’s not hard to see that the malaise of the last two to three seasons is born of the 2004–2008 entry draft bust-o-rama. You simply can’t go five drafts in a row in this league without hitting some pay dirt and not pay the piper. I know the entry draft  can be a veritable crap shoot, but this organization took it to new heights. Poor scouting and poor decisions made at the draft are amongst the biggest reasons the club has struggled in the recent past. And don’t get me going on the Nick Leddy trade.
Depending on who you talk to these days, there are some who think the Wild have one of the top young prospect pools in the league right now. For the most part I agree with them, but remember, before you get all revved up about the team’s “prospects,” don’t forget they are just that, prospects. I have seen many great prospects not make it at the NHL level. It IS the toughest hockey league in the world, simple as that. I like Mikael Granlund (scouts gush about his potential), but I worry about his size. Charlie Coyle could turn out to be a star top six forward, Jonas Brodin could turn out to be a long-term outstanding D-man, and Matt Hackett could turn into a number-one goalie in time.
This year picking from the number seven slot, the team took D-man Matt Dumba. He is 5’11” and a buck 95. I wish he were bigger, but what I like about him is his toughness. He likes to hit and he has a ton of offensive upside, which the Wild have pretty much lacked on the backend for a long time, Marek Zidlicky notwithstanding. The kid is just turning 18, so I think he would be a bit of a long shot to make it to the show this coming season. I don’t think the Wild will send him back to Juniors, though. Look for him to debut in the AHL for the Aeros this fall. Also look for that to be his one and only year in the “A”—I think this kid is going to be an impact player at some point.
The other pick I really like is Raphael Bussieres. This kid has some size at 6’1” and 195. You have to figure both he and Dumba will add another 15-18 lbs. as they mature. He is a scorer, but like Dumba is young. With Bussieres I could see the Wild keeping him in Juniors for another year at least, with the possibility of making it to the Aeros this fall being a tough call at this point.
The remainder of the team’s picks—John Draeger/D, 6’2”, 186; Adam Gilmour/F, 6’2”, 194; Louie Nanne/F, 5’ 10”, 165—are either junior or college bound, and Daniel Gunnarson/D, 6’4”, 191 (playing in Sweden) and Christoph Bertschy/F 5’10”, 170 (playing in Switzerland). I think Gilmour and Gunnarson both have NHL potential. Glad to see the club take Nanne; his grandfather has been one of my Minnesota hockey icons for a long time.
And while I think the club is headed in the right direction once again, between their pro roster and prospects I’m worried that they still don’t have position players who would be true number ones on a Cup contender. You can’t win it without them. They are amassing some talent, make no mistake about that. But in my opinion, they are still going to be lacking those three to four guys who are league stars who can take games over for their team. Hope they find them sooner rather than later—this team will be in a dogfight once again just to try to get into the playoffs…
JUST A COUPLE OF Thursdays back, my great-nephew Jack (a.k.a. Mr. Mohawk-favorite-hairdo!), some other family members, and myself took in a Chicago Cubs versus  Detroit Tigers game at historic Wrigley Field. We got to the Windy City via Amtrak and up to Wrigley on the elevated trains. We had some really good seats about 140 feet behind home plate and thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The food aroma at Wrigley is worth the trip all in itself, and when you arrive at the stadium the sense of baseball history and this facility’s place within it are overwhelming.
The first glimpse of the world famous “Welcome to Wrigley Field” sign will bring a blend of tears and a smile to you, so be prepared. If you love baseball, this is a must choice for your bucket list. The Cubbies didn’t prevail (5-3L), but the weather was perfect and I can hardly think of any better way to spend a summer afternoon. This place is literally dripping baseball nostalgia. Very, very, very awesome. PEACE
MFAN EXTRA: Mr. Mohawk is currently playing in the Blaine Area Little League in the 7–8-year-old division. He is a garage hockey maniac, but so far I haven’t been able to talk him into joining the real thing. I’ll keep trying…. OVER & OUT!

Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.