Selection of Nanne reverberates

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 8:09 AM

Louie Nanne, grandson of the former North Star, has committed to the Gophers but will play next season in British Columbia.

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Louie Nanne, right, with Edina goalie Willie Banjamin behind him, was selected by the Wild on Saturday in the seventh and final round of the NHL Draft.

PITTSBURGH - The last thing Louie Nanne told his father, Wild scout Marty Nanne, when he left the house this week was, "Don't take me in the draft."

Nanne told his 18-year-old son, "Don't worry."

So imagine Louie's shock Saturday morning when he got a text from his cousin, Vinni Lettieri, reading, "Dude, congratulations, that's awesome!"

"I texted him saying, 'What do you mean?' He texts me back: 'You got drafted by the Wild,' " said Louie Nanne, a future Gopher who won a Class 2A boys' hockey state championship at Edina in 2010 as a freshman. "I had no clue. I'm just overjoyed to be drafted at all."

In the seventh round, with the 188th pick in the 2012 NHL draft, the Wild selected the grandson of Lou Nanne, the former North Stars general manager and Minnesota hockey living legend.

The elder Nanne was golfing at Interlachen when he got word.

"It's phenomenal, especially by the Wild," said the proud grandpa.

Louie Nanne, 18, was the last of six players drafted by the Wild on Saturday and second Minnesotan. Shattuck-St. Mary's and Michigan State-bound defenseman John Draeger, who was born in Edina and grew up in Faribault, was taken in the third round. Skilled power forward Raphael Bussieres from Quebec was taken in the second.

But the final pick overshadowed the others.

After all, it was the name, "Nanne," that caused NHL executive Jim Gregory to exclaim, "Wow!" on the draft stage.

It's also why Nanne asked his father to make sure the Wild didn't select him. Nobody wants to be considered a token pick, and that was the reaction by some on Twitter after Nanne was chosen.

"People are always going to say stuff about me or any other kid my age who's got a dad or a grandfather that played in the pros," said Nanne, who scored 24 points in 20 games last year and is heading to Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League in the fall. "I guess I've got to show those people that much more. I'm excited and just as equally motivated.

"I've always been the type of kid to never let my name get in the way and always wanted to make a name for myself."

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the team didn't choose Nanne because he is Lou's grandkid.

"Every kid we call out we feel has a legitimate chance to play, but sure, Lou Nanne's meant a lot to hockey in Minnesota and certainly in the NHL as well," Fletcher said. "But [Louie], on his own, he's a good hockey player and just a high-character person. He's a kid our people feel has a chance to develop."

Marty Nanne was sitting at the table, but Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr kept the selection a secret.

"On our list, we go down our book, and there was a name way ahead of Louie, so I was just looking at the board talking to [fellow scout] Brian Hunter next to me, saying, 'We're going with this kid,' " Marty Nanne said. "All of a sudden, I hear, 'From Edina, Minnesota, ...' I looked over and said, 'You've got to be kidding me?' "

Louie Nanne was recruited by many schools, but he took a lot of heat after committing to the University of Minnesota.

"Even myself growing up as Lou Nanne's son, you always work in an uphill battle," Marty said. "Everyone thinks you're entitled, so you're always trying to do the opposite -- be incredibly humble, shy. For Louie, that's enough pressure."

That's why Marty thinks it's good his son will head to Penticton before joining the U.

"Get away from Edina and Minnesota, mature, work on his game," he said. "His work ethic is phenomenal. He's a great two-way player. His whole thing is he's always the first forechecker and the first backchecker."

Nanne was one of three eventual college players the Wild selected Saturday (future Boston College center Adam Gilmour was taken in the fourth round).

There's a reason.

"In the later rounds, I think it's advantageous to look at kids going off to college just because you get longer development," Fletcher said. "Junior kids and Europeans, you only get two years [before they have to be signed]. College, it's four, sometimes five.

"We liked some other junior kids, but we'll get them [to development camp] on invites, so we'll end up looking at more players this way."

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