Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Sources: Minnesota Wild to host 2011 NHL Entry Draft; Noreau recalled; Wild injury updates; Elite League represented in CSS Rankings

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild news, Wild practice Updated: April 7, 2010 - 8:21 PM

Good evening from Calgary.

Every who’s who in the NHL will descend on St. Paul in June of 2011. According to league sources, the Wild has been awarded the 2011 NHL entry draft. An announcement is expected in the very near future. 

The draft is one of my favorite events to cover, although I'll miss my hotel and frequent flier points, and hanging out with my colleagues considering now I have to cover it from a league perspective as opposed to just a Wild. I didn't see anybody when the Panthers hosted the 2001 Draft. I was sequestered in my home constantly writing.

Ok, now I'm upset.

Just a joke. Kinda.

What’s unique about the NHL draft is fans get to attend and watch personnel from all 30 teams on one arena floor draft players, who are also in attendance. This should be awesome in Minnesota since there's always a bunch of Minnesotans drafted. Too bad the Wild didn't get 2010. How about five Minnesota athletes in the top-25 of the CSS North American skaters? See below.
 
One of the most exciting parts of any draft is the trades that surround it. Last June, Chris Pronger was traded to Philadelphia. The biggest Wild draft day trade came in 2006 when it acquired Pavol Demitra.
 
In Florida, I covered some monster ones, including the acquisition of Valeri Bure for Rob Niedermayer and Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
 
It’s believed Round 1 will be June 24, 2011, and Rounds 2-7 will be June 25, 2011, (Rounds 2-7).
 
The NHL draft will actually be the second national event hosted by Xcel Energy Center next year. The NCAA Frozen Four comes to the X on April 7 and 9, 2011. The Wild also hosted the 2004 NHL All-Star Game.

The Wild has recalled defenseman Maxim Noreau, who tied for first among all AHL defensemen with 18 goals and is tied for the Houston Aeros' scoring lead with 51 points. If he plays either of the final two games, he'll become the eighth Wild player to make his NHL debut this season and team-record 40th player to dress for a game.

Coach Todd Richards said he didn't know yet if Noreau would play, but the Wild had to make the decision to fly him to Calgary in time to get here for the morning skate. I think he'd play just with power-play pointmen Marek Zidlicky (arm) and Martin Havlat (hamstring) out. Richards said Havlat's "doubtful," but did say he didn't anticipate Zidlicky playing the final two games.

He said Zidlicky's been dealing with a lot of different injuries since before the Olympics.

Guillaume Latendresse is also doubtful with back spasms, although he's had a serious upper body issue the last seven or eight games. He didn't want to use that as an excuse for his slip in production lately, although he said this is the first time he missed the playoffs with so much time left in a season and he's found it's been harder to prepare the same way.

Owen Nolan, who's been fighting a knee injury for weeks, tried to practice this morning and came off almost immediately. The Wild should get Nick Schultz back. His leg injury is feeling better, he practiced fully and participated in all the battle drills.

Richards talked about how well Nate Prosser --nicknamed the Stiffmeister by his new teammates because he looks like Stiffler from American Pie (actor Sean William Scott, who's also from Minnesota)-- but Richards said he didn't know yet if Prosser would play tomorrow.

Richards said several players have been playing with "pretty big injuries" for some time. He also reflected back to training camp and said they were playing "catchup" the entire time. He said the Wild will implement a strict offseason workout program and will have fitness testing like most teams on the first day of camp. The Wild of old had offseason workout plans but no testing. Check out Richards quotes on this in tomorrow's paper because it's interesting.

As for the 2010 Draft in Los Angeles, the NHL's Central Scouting Service put out its final rankings today. Tyler Seguin from Plymouth is No. 1, Taylor Hall from Windsor is No. 2. The Draft lottery will be on Versus on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Right now, the Wild would pick ninth, and they always hit home runs when picking No. 9

Right now, the Wild has a 2.7 percent chance of winning the lottery, and no, that doesn't mean the rights to pick Seguin or Hall. No team can move up more than five spots.

Here is a link for the rankings

FIVE ELITE LEAGUE ALUM IN CENTRAL SCOUTING’S TOP 25
Final list includes 22 skaters, one goalie from Upper Midwest Elite League

New Hope, Minn. – Five of the top 25 players on the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service (CSS) final rankings are former players in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League.

CSS released its final pre-draft rankings today, and Shattuck-St. Mary’s Emerson Etem – currently playing with Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League – is ranked #8 on the North American Skaters list. Just behind him at #9 is Derek Forbort of Duluth East – currently playing with the National Team Development Program – and Blaine High School’s Nick Bjugstad at #13. Rounding out the top 25 are Tyler Pitlick of MSU-Mankato at #18 and Warroad’s Brock Nelson at #25.

Other current Minnesota high school players in the top 50 are Mark Alt of Cretin-Derham Hall at #37, and Minnetonka teammates Justin Holl (#47) and Max Gardiner (#49).

Zane Gothberg of Thief River Falls is #6 on the North American goaltender list.

“It’s gratifying to see that Central Scouting recognizes the talent that competes in the Elite League, and we’re very excited for these players,” said John Russo, founder and Commissioner of the Elite League. “The Elite League will continue to work hard to provide young hockey players with an environment in which they can improve and display their skills as part of moving on to the next level.”

In last June’s NHL Entry Draft, 17 Elite League players were selected, including first-round choices Nick Leddy (#16 by the Minnesota Wild) and Jordan Schroeder (#22 by Vancouver). This year’s NHL draft will take place June 25-26 in Los Angeles.

A complete list of Elite League players on the CSS list is attached.

The Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League is a non-profit hockey league designed to provide high-level competition supplementing the regular high school hockey season. For more information, and draft-day updates, visit the league’s website at www.hselitehockey.com.

Upper Midwest High School Elite League Players on NHL Central Scouting Service Final Rankings List of April 7, 2010

Rank Name Team Position
8 ETEM, EMERSON MEDICINE HAT RW
9 FORBORT, DEREK USA U-18 D
13 BJUGSTAD, NICK BLAINE C
18 PITLICK, TYLER MSU-MANKATO C
25 NELSON, BROCK WARROAD C
37 ALT, MARK CRETIN-DERHAM D
47 HOLL, JUSTIN MINNETONKA D
49 GARDINER, MAX MINNETONKA C
54 BASARABA, JOE SHAT.-ST.MARY'S RW
81 CLARK, JASON SHAT.ST.MARY'S C,LW
94 HARSTAD, AARON GREEN BAY D
104 GAEDE, MAX WOODBURY RW
109 HERBERT, CALEB BLOOMINGTON-JEFF. C
118 FAUST, JOE BLOOMINGTON-JEFF. D
145 STERN, BRETT CENTENNIAL D
165 MULLIN, JAMES SHAT.-ST. MARY’S RW,C
166 ISACKSON, CHRIS ST. THOMAS RW
182 CASTO, CHRIS HILL-MURRAY D
187 FULTON, TYSON BRECK RW
198 HENDRICKSON, GARRETT VIRGINIA C
200 POLK, JAMES SHAT.-ST.MARY'S RW
205 PROCHNO, ANDREW MINNETONKA D

Goalies
6 GOTHBERG, ZANE THIEF RIVER FALLS
 

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