In wide-open draft, Wild ready for anything at No. 7

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2012 - 6:48 AM

Assistant GM Brent Flahr, who will run the team's draft table, will have plenty of talent to choose from, especially on defense.

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Jacob Trouba

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PITTSBURGH - Every NHL draft has its DNA. And the DNA of the first round Friday is defensemen.

The Wild, picking seventh, should have its pick of four or five high-end defensemen, and they are all very different.

Griffin Reinhart has all the tools. Mathew Dumba: a big hitter with the big shot. Morgan Rielly: great skater. Cody Ceci: offensive whiz.

And Jacob Trouba will put you right through the glass.

"He reminds me of [former NHL defenseman] Adam Foote," said former NHL General Manager Craig Button. "If you want to win, you need guys like Adam Foote on your team. It was never any fun playing against Adam Foote."

A defense-heavy draft is pretty good timing for the Wild.

Since last year's draft, the Wild overhauled its back end by trading veterans Brent Burns, Marek Zidlicky, Nick Schultz and Greg Zanon. And with Jonas Brodin, the No. 10 pick in last year's draft, and Marco Scandella, a second-round pick in 2008, considered the Wild's only blue-chip defensemen, one could argue the team should think long and hard about taking another quality one Friday.

Not so fast, says Brent Flahr, the assistant general manager who will be running the Wild's draft table.

"If you look at the [Mikael] Granlund draft in 2010, that was the one time where we clearly needed skill up front and we were aggressive on that," Flahr said. "We knew even if we went by a defenseman, we had to get skill for the organization at forward.

"Now we're at a point where you can say we need defensemen, but you still have to take the best player. A lot of these players are a year or two away, sometimes three or four, from being impactful players."

Many options

Things change quickly and dramatically in the NHL. So if a forward such as Teuvo Teravainen or Radek Faksa or Mikhail Grigorenko happens to be the top name when the seventh pick comes around, Flahr says he will have no hesitation going that route.

And that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Teravainen reminds many of Hall of Famer Igor Larionov. He is a puck magician and happens to be flying up the draft charts despite being undersized at 5-11 and 165 pounds.

And ... the Wild loves Finnish players.

Said Button: "I seriously can make the argument that he's as good [2011 No. 1 pick] Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was last year at this time. I think somebody's going to get an absolute steal with Teravainen."

Faksa reminds some scouts of San Jose budding star Logan Couture, while Grigorenko has been compared to former NHL goal scorer Alex Kovalev.

Ryan Murray will almost assuredly be the top defenseman chosen. Reinhart, son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart, is likely to be gone at No. 7, so if the Wild wants him, it will have to trade up.

Value at D

The Wild has met multiple times with all the defensemen at the top of the draft, and Dumba, Reinhart and Trouba met again with the team Thursday. The 6-2 Trouba played for the U.S. national team program and doesn't bring much offense, but he has a great shot, he's tough and he's a competitor.

"I love watching Shea Weber," said Trouba, heading to Michigan in the fall. "He's a big, mean, physical guy like I want to be."

Dumba, although he stands under 6 feet, plays the game like Drew Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings star.

"I want to play [in the NHL] next year," said the confident Dumba, Canada's captain at the Under-18 world championships, where he led the tournament in scoring. "I'm the type of guy, my will is strong and I want to go somewhere and compete for a position next year.

"I think my game is very versatile. I do believe in my skills where I can do it all almost."

Murray is considered the safest pick in the draft, but Wild scouts say he might not have as much upside as some of the defensemen that could be on the board at No. 7.

Flahr has talked glowingly about Rielly ("superb skater") and Ceci ("tons of offense"), too, while lately, Finnish defenseman Olli Maatta, a huge Wild fan, and Hampus Lindholm have rocketed up the charts.

So who's coming to Minnesota in the first round?

It's anybody's guess. Flahr has kept everything close to the vest.

"The top of the draft is so unpredictable this year, I just don't want to tip our hand," Flahr said. "I'll just say, there are seven or eight guys we'd be very happy with. We'll get a good player."

  • NHL ENTRY DRAFT • When: Round 1, 6 p.m. today, TV: NBC Sports Network • Rounds 2-7, 9 a.m. Saturday, TV: NHL Network

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 48 3rd Qtr 11:44
Chicago 38
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 34 2nd Half 17:39
Georgia Tech 26
Virginia 33 2nd Half 17:04
Virginia Tech 34
Indiana 25 1st Half 4:00
Ohio State 30
Stony Brook 4 1st Half 15:57
Binghamton 6
Cincinnati 3 1st Half 18:14
UCF 2
Maine 7 1st Half 15:23
Hartford 2
Monmouth 7 1st Half 13:33
Manhattan 11
Fairfield 10 1st Half 15:06
Marist 8
Rowan 8 1st Half 13:20
Princeton 8
St Bonaventure 6 1st Half 16:18
Rhode Island 4
Duke 2 1st Half 18:28
St Johns 3
Saint Peters 13 1st Half 13:07
Siena 10
Drake 2 1st Half 16:17
Wichita State 9
Vermont 8 1st Half 14:02
UMass Lowell 7
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 34 2nd Half 14:11
UMBC 24
Vanderbilt 37 2nd Half 14:42
Alabama 31
Lafayette 32 2nd Half 15:59
Lehigh 34
Delaware 1:00 PM
Drexel
Towson 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Iona 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Monmouth
UCF 2 1st Half 19:25
SMU 0
Utah 2 1st Half 15:18
Washington 14
James Madison 5 1st Half 17:03
Coll of Charleston 1
Hofstra 6 1st Half 15:10
William & Mary 15
Hartford 3 1st Half 16:23
Albany 4
Binghamton 8 1st Half 16:06
Stony Brook 8
Wake Forest 8 1st Half 16:05
(17) Florida State 13
Georgia Tech 6 1st Half 15:41
Virginia 6
(22) Georgia 2 1st Half 14:38
(5) Tennessee 2
Drake 18 1st Half 12:53
Evansville 12
Northwestern 10 1st Half 14:16
Penn State 8
Wisconsin 10 1st Half 12:57
Michigan State 12
Ohio State 7 1st Half 15:59
Purdue 8
Northern Iowa 2 1st Half 16:05
Indiana State 5
Butler 1:30 PM
Xavier
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
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