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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Wild to select 7th in NHL Draft

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild news Updated: April 10, 2012 - 7:48 PM

The Edmonton Oilers hopped over the Columbus Blue Jackets to win the NHL Draft lottery for the third consecutive year. The consensus No. 1 pick is Nail Yakupov, the Russian-born, dynamic Sarnia Sting forward.

Barring an Oilers trade, he will likely join the past two No. 1 overall picks, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall, and young star Joran Eberle, in Edmonton. 

The Wild, which had a 4.7 percent chance of winning the lottery and jumping up to No. 3 overall, instead retains the No. 7 overall pick. This draft is defenseman-heavy, and with so many young forwards about to be infused into the organization (Mikael Granlund, Brett Bulmer, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker and Zack Phillips), there's a chance the Wild goes this route in a draft that is considered defenseman-heavy in the top-10.

That doesn't mean at all it's a definite. The Wild will always take the best player available, so if a stud like Alex Galchenyuk fell to them, I'd think they'd go forward in a heartbeat.

Here is the top-11 North American skaters according to Central Scouting Service

RANK PLAYER TEAM LEAGUE HEIGHT WEIGHT POSITION
1 YAKUPOV, NAIL SARNIA OHL 5' 10.5" 189 RW
2 MURRAY, RYAN EVERETT WHL 6' 0.5" 195 D
3 GRIGORENKO, MIKHAIL QUEBEC QMJHL 6' 3.0" 200 C
4 GALCHENYUK, ALEX SARNIA OHL 6' 0.5" 198 C
5 RIELLY, MORGAN MOOSE JAW WHL 5' 11.5" 190 D
6 CECI, CODY OTTAWA OHL 6' 2.5" 207 D
7 FAKSA, RADEK KITCHENER OHL 6' 2.5" 203 C
8 MAATTA, OLLI  LONDON OHL 6' 1.5" 202 D
9 TROUBA, JACOB USA U-18 USHL 6' 2.0" 193 D
10 REINHART, GRIFFIN EDMONTON WHL 6' 3.75" 197 D
11 DUMBA, MATHEW RED DEER WHL 5' 11.75" 173 D

Here's the top-12 European skaters according to Central Scouting Service

RANK PLAYER TEAM LEAGUE HEIGHT WEIGHT POSITION
1 FORSBERG, FILIP LEKSAND SWEDEN-2 6' 2.0" 181 C
2 TERAVAINEN, TEUVO JOKERIT FINLAND 5' 11.0" 165 LW
3 COLLBERG, SEBASTIAN FROLUNDA SWEDEN 5' 11.0" 176 RW
4 LINDHOLM, HAMPUS ROGLE JR. SWE-JR. 6' 2.5" 196 D
5 HERTL, TOMAS SLAVIA CZREP 6' 2.0" 198 C
6 ABERG, PONTUS DJURGARDEN SWEDEN 5' 11.0" 194 LW
7 POKKA, VILLE KARPAT FINLAND 6' 0.0" 196 D
8 BYSTROM, LUDWIG MODO JR. SWE-JR. 6' 0.75" 208 D
9 PROKHORKIN, NIKOLAY CSKA 2 RUSSIA-JR. 6' 2.5" 191 LW
10 SLEPYSHEV, ANTON NOVOKUZNETSK RUSSIA 6' 2.0" 187 LW
11 VAINONEN, MIKKO HIFK JR. FINLAND-JR. 6' 3.0" 205 D
12 LINDELL, ESA JOKERIT JR. FINLAND-JR. 6' 3.0" 194 D

Rielly is considered the best offensive defenseman. Trouba, Reinhart and Dumba are all considered high-end. TSN analyst Craig Button had the Wild taking Reinhart in his mock draft.

Here is TSN Insider Bob McKenzie's top-10/11

You'll be reading a lot more about the draft in June, which takes place in Pittsburgh June 22-23.

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