Good wee hour of the morning to you.
I caught up with Clayton Stoner, who's brother tragically passed away last month. Here's that story
Also Judd Zulgad and photographer Jeff Wheeler got great behind-the-scenes access of Gabriel Landeskog before, during and after he was drafted. Check that out
As for the trade, I will write a column for Sunday's paper with my complete thoughts, but the plan is clear as day now.
The Wild's getting younger and is in absolute add talent mode. They added four forwards in last year's drafts in Mikael Granlund, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker. Tonight, they added three more forwards -- streaky but dangerous goal scorer Devin Setoguchi, stud college power forward Charlie Coyle (as integral to the trade happening as Setoguchi) and Zack Phillips, who scored 95 points this past season for Memorial-Cup winning Saint John.
They also with the No. 10 pick took puck-moving defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Folks, I'm nobody to preach to people that spend a fortune on tickets, merchandise, etc. But this path is how this franchise must go now. It's been spinning its wheels for too long, and now is looking to infuse young talent into the organization to catch up with the more talented teams in this league.
Unfortunately, the price tonight was Brent Burns. Snag him on your fantasy team next season because he'll have the ability to put up monster points skating with Thornton, Heatley, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture, etc, etc.
But Burns was the lone tradeable asset this team had that could fish three key pieces, and with his contract up in a year, the Wild had to make a tough decision whether to trade him or sign him. I'll go a lot more into all this in my column.
Burns was sad to leave but exhillarated by what's ahead. He was extremely excited to play for San Jose and in front of those fans. And you've got to think now the Sharks are confident they'll be able to sign him long-term. You don't give up three assets like they gave up only to lose a player in a year.
Setoguchi is a shooter on a pass-first team. You add him to the fold and think suddenly how many young, talented forwards are inside this organization now, the future's starting to look brighter if these guys can develop. Again, it won't happen overnight. But this process had to begin and be invested in. It'll take patience, but this is how the other teams got so far ahead of the Wild.
Here are some videos tonight of Chuck Fletcher, Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips. Also, assistant GM Brent Flahr's comments are below. There should also be a webcam with Judd Zulgad and myself on the site by Saturday.
Here's Brent Flahr, and thanks to Brian Stensaas for transcribing
(Chuck deferred to you on the picks, so tell us about Jonas) An elite-skating defenseman, really good puck moving ability and really thinks the game well. He played in Farjestad and played regularly for most of the year. It’s obviously a huge step for a young player to make that step and keep his composure and sense. And with his composure and natural ability to play the game – he played well. I was over there for the championship series against the Adam Larsson’s and these players and he really played well. Then he joined the Under-18 team in Sweden partway through the tournament and really helped them out, got them to the final game. He’s a terrific skater and has a terrific mind for ther game.
(Did he move up a lot?) Maybe in some rankings. But I think most teams were pretty aware. I think some of the ratings don’t get to see him play regularly. Because he’s playing with men he doesn’t get all the first-team power play ice time. You see that in his statistics, but when you get to see him play with his peers you understand what he is and he’s obviously a high-quality prospect.
(Does the fact that he’s played against men put him ahead of some North Americans?) I think it’s easy to recognize his hockey sense and his ability to make quick decisions. He’s a young player playing with men and at a high level. He’s got very good composure and reads the play, moves the puck and gets out of his own end very well. It’s easier for him to make the transition to the pro game just because of his experience already.
(Was this your guy or was it a tough call?) We had a number of players there we had penciled for our first pick. We actually had Jonas a little higher. [Duncan] Siemens is a totally different kind of defenseman. Big, physical kid. For what we thought we need with mobility and skill on the back end, it was an easy choice.
(Couple years away?) He thinks the game so well, I’m not going to put any limits on that. We’ll talk to his people. Obviously he’s got to get physically stronger and put on weight.
(Will the scoring come for Jonas?) He’s a young guy, like I said. And That’s the way it works in Sweden. Young guys have to earn their time. I was there in the playoffs, and he scored the winning goal one game. Off the crossbar, I believe. You watch his feet, his vision and his skill and we’re confident the scoring will come. When he plays with the Under 18 team he plays so many minutes.
(Phillips knows where the net is) A very smart, heady player with good hands. Always in the right spot. A nose for the net. He’s a competitive guy who really stepped up in big games and that’s what we’re looking for.
(Average skater?) You look at him, and he has skill and competitiveness. But he’s not a big-framed kid. He’s going to have to get stronger and work on that. And he’s aware of that. He’s got some work ahead of him but we’re convinced he’s willing to do that and we’re looking forward to seeing it. He was injured during the Memorial Cup, actually. Give a lot of credit to him for playing with that.
(What do you remember about Coyle?) A terrific pick by them the year before. Came out of the Eastern Junior League out there, so it’s a big jump but he had a terrific year out in Boston University andwith the world junior team he played very well. Big, strong kid. Off the ice, he’s already very mature. He’s strong; plays in the hard areas. Goes to the net. Good hands in traffic. A power-forward frame. He’s a big piece to the puzzle here.
(At what point did the Burns trade come up?) We took a lot of calls, and a lot we dismissed easily. When San Jose put together a package we had to listen to, it made sense.