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 picking at 7th; Thoughts on Luongo, Staal, Ryan; Draft charts galore

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild off-season news Updated: June 22, 2012 - 4:28 PM

The first round of the NHL draft will be tonight at 6 p.m. CT. You can watch on NBC Sports Network. Rounds 2-7 are tomorrow, beginning at 9 a.m., and that can be seen on the NHL Network.

The Wild has the 7th pick tonight and then, barring trades, the 46th, 68th, 98th, 128th, 158th and 188th tomorrow.

Some Wild tidbits: Wild continues to work on Justin Falk re-signing, Gui Latendresse re-signing, although Chuck Fletcher said yesterday this could even stretch to July 1, and as I wrote in today's paper, they met yesterday with the agents of free agent potentials Matt Kassian and Stephane Veilleux.

I've gotten a lot of emails and tweets the last few days from Wild fans clamoring for every defenseman potentially on the board around 7, from Griffin Reinhart to Mathew Dumba to Morgan Rielly to Jacob Trouba. 

Here's the article from today's paper

Here's a chart of some guys that may be there at 7

As former NHL GM Craig Button told me: “I think it really comes down to they’re all close, so, ‘We want this guy over that guy because this is what we value more than the other.' I’m not so sure in my own view watching these guys that one is clearly better than the other. And rarely can you say that in a draft.”

If it's true what Button says that Reinhart won't be there at 7, it comes down to: Do you want the heavy, intimidating hitter like Trouba? Do you want the package of speed, shot, big hits albeit being undersized in Dumba? Do you want the incredible skater like Rielly? Do you want the pure offense like Cody Ceci?

If it's a forward, the Wild cannot go wrong with Teuvo Teravainen or Radek Faksa in my opinion. Many scouts say with more viewings, we could be talking about Teravainen as the No. 1 pick in this draft. However, he is undersized.

Faksa is a fascinating guy. Talking to him yesterday, he grew up in a remote town in the Czech Republic. His uncle convinced him that if he wanted to play hockey in the future, he'd have to move out of his house and attend a hockey academy 120 kilometers from home.

Guess how old he was?

ELEVEN! On his own, he moved to his town and lived alone in a hotel room. Lunch was at the academy, dinner at the hotel. Breakfast, he'd cook his own. Usually, "toast," he said, laughing.

His parents would visit him once a week. Again, at age 11! At age 11, I was riding around my neighborhood pretending I was Ponch from CHiPs!

As usual at the draft, trade rumors are the most interesting thing.

Last year, the draft day blockbuster was Brent Burns and a second going to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first that became Zack Phillips. The day before, Jeff Carter was traded to Columbus and Mike Richards to Los Angeles.

Often, trade scuttlebutt around the draft is hyped up and nothing happens, and that could very well be the case this year.

Vancouver is trying to trade Roberto Luongo. The teams that would love him? Toronto and Columbus. Would he waive his no-trade to go to Toronto, where he'd have just as much pressure there as in Vancouver? I think so. Would he waive his no-trade to go to Columbus? That one I'm skeptical about, although his former Canucks and Panthers goalie coach, Ian Clark, is the goalie coach of the Blue Jackets now.

I have it on good authority that Luongo's first choice would be to return to Florida, where his in-laws live and where he lives in a beautiful home in Parkland during the offseason. The Panthers, I think, are interested, but can they take on the length of his contract? I think it runs for the next 100 years.

The big news here, of course, is Rick Nash, and talking to Scott Howson, Columbus' GM, all weekend, he says he has no problem sticking to his guns and waiting for the right assets. The trade must reinvent the franchise, so that means, probably four top, top assets. Howson said yesterday he was no closer to trading Nash than he was at the trade deadline. Complicating matters is Nash must approve any trade, so even if Howson finds a deal he's in love with, Nash can put the kibosh on it if he won't go to the team.

Bobby Ryan is 100 percent on the trading block. I've got that from numerous sources. The question is what do you have to give up for him? He's younger and cheaper than Nash and plays basically the same position -- left wing. I've heard the price isn't as high though as Nash, but it's still very high. I'm not too sure Anaheim wants to take a lot of salary back because Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are a year from free agency and the Ducks want to extend them.

So we're talking prospects and picks most likely. The Wild has interest, but Chuck Fletcher is not looking to move his top prospects (i.e. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin).

But it's not often a 25-year-old, pure goal scorer is on the market, too. I still think Philly is the right match here.

That brings me to Jordan Staal.

The deal here is simple: I think he doesn't want to play in the three hole his entire career to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That's what I hear at least. You have one NHL career. He was offered a 10-year deal. Does he want to be a third-liner his entire career or does he want to go elsewhere to be a No. 2?

Well, he rejected a 10-year deal, sources confirm (as first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie).

The Wild undoubtedly would love Staal. Mike Yeo loves him. Chuck Fletcher loves him.

But there's no way the Wild can give up significant assets for Staal unless it knew for a fact he'd sign an extension. He is one year from free agency.

According to a source close to Staal, he will not sign an extension with any team he is traded to. I think the one exception would be Carolina where his brother, Eric, is captain, but if you're Carolina and you think you may be able to get Staal for free in a year as a free agent, why not wait a year and sign Staal without having to trade bigtime assets?

Pittsburgh's in a real quandary with this one.

So, if you're a Wild fan and you're drooling over the possibility of getting Staal: Don't get your hopes up. You can't trade for Staal if he won't re-sign in a year. This is plain and simple, folks.

Wild charts galore

Wild first-round picks
2011: Jonas Brodin, Farjestad (Sweden), 9th overall
2011: Zack Phillips, Saint John (QMJHL), 28th overall
2010: Mikael Granlund, HIFK (Finland), 10th overall
2009: Nick Leddy, Eden Prairie High, 16th overall
2008: Tyler Cuma, Ottawa (OHL), 23rd overall
2007: Colton Gillies, Saskatoon (WHL), 16th overall
2006: James Sheppard, Cape Breton (QMJHL), 9th overall
2005: Benoit Pouliot, Sudbury (OHL), 4th overall
2004: A.J. Thelen, Michigan State, 12th overall
2003: Brent Burns, Brampton (OHL), 20th overall
2002: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Chicoutimi, 8th overall
2001: Mikko Koivu, TPS Turku (Finland), 6th overall
2000: Marian Gaborik, Dukla Trencin (Slovakia), 3rd overall

The Wild pick seventh in the first round tonight. Here are some notable No. 7 NHL picks
2010: Jeff Skinner
1995: Shane Doan
1993: Jason Arnott
1990: Darryl Sydor
1974: Doug Risebrough
1972: Bill Barber

Draft hits

Marian Gaborik
2000, first round, 3rd overall
Franchise leader in goals (219), assists (218); scored club record 42 goals in 2007-08

Mikko Koivu
2001, first round, 6th overall
Wild didn’t rush its now-captain, and he’s developed into a two-way force, leader and arguably the game’s best Finn

Brent Burns
2003, first round, 20th overall
Magnificent tools, but after injuries slowed him for two years, the Wild parlayed him into three players last June

Nick Schultz
2000, second round, 33rd overall
Matchup defenseman was the Wild’s all-time leader with 743 games before being dealt to Edmonton

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
2002, first round, 6th overall
Despite concussion woes, he’s the third-leading scorer in franchise history (327 points)

Draft finds

Cal Clutterbuck
2006, third round, 72nd overall
Hits like a freight train and is one of the game’s top agitators, he led the NHL in hits his first three seasons

Marco Scandella
2008, second round, 55th overall
Taken one round after Tyler Cuma, he made Canada’s world junior team in 2009 and looks ready to blossom

Clayton Stoner
2004, third round, 79th overall
Took awhile to mature due to injuries, but he’s become a steady, hard-hitting regular

Draft misses

A.J. Thelen
2004, first round, 12th overall
Defenseman out of Savage was a risk when the Wild took him and is long gone from the organization

Roman Voloshenko
2004, second round, 42nd overall
After scoring 33 goals as 19-year-old AHL rookie, his developed halted and he quit to return to Russia

James Sheppard
2006, first round, 9th overall
Floundered with two goals in 2009-10 and has missed the past two seasons after breaking his kneecap

On the rise

Of the crop of budding prospects, here’s my top-10 as of now:

1. Mikael Granlund, C-RW, 2010 1st round
2. Charlie Coyle, C-RW; 2010 1st round (SJ)
3. Matt Hackett, G; 2009 2nd round
4. Jonas Brodin, D; 2011 1st round
5. Johan Larsson; LW-C; 2010 2nd round
6. Brett Bulmer; RW; 2010 2nd round
7. Jason Zucker; LW; 2010 2nd round
8. Darcy Kuemper; G; 2009 6th round
9. Zack Phillips; C; 2011 1st round
10. Mario Lucia; LW; 2011 2nd round
 

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