Wild brass likes size, grit in this draft class

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 30, 2013 - 11:32 PM

– The Wild isn’t the biggest team in the world. Even its top prospects aren’t the biggest players in the world.

But Sunday the Wild did its best to add size and competitiveness to its prospect pool.

“That’s the team we’re trying to get to,” assistant General Manager Brent Flahr said.

Besides drafting four defensemen, all six skaters it selected were 6-1 or taller. It also drafted one goaltender (Alexandre Belanger of the Quebec League).

Defenseman Carson Soucy, taken in the fifth round and heading to Minnesota Duluth, is 6-4. Second-round pick Gustov Olofsson is a big, mobile defenseman. Kurtis Gabriel, a third-rounder, is 6-3 and Flahr says “hits like a train.”

“In the perfect world, if we get size, that’s great. But talent and speed and competitiveness are most important,” GM Chuck Fletcher said. “Look at the playoffs. Boston has a lot of players that are 6 foot or smaller, but they’re competitiveness.

“Sure they have a couple big men in [Zdeno] Chara and [Milan] Lucic. But you go through from [Rich] Peverley to [David] Krejci to [Patrice] Bergeron to [Brad] Marchand to even [Andrew] Ference. These guys aren’t the tallest guys in the league, but they’re competitive. We’d like to get the biggest, strongest, fastest guys we can, but I’d rather get a slightly smaller guy that’s competitive than just a big guy because he’s big.”

Falk dealt to Rangers for Ferriero

The Wild traded defenseman Justin Falk to the New York Rangers for a 2014 sixth-round pick and the rights to pesky right winger Benn Ferriero.

Still, it’s uncertain if Ferriero will end up being signed. The Rangers needed to trade an expiring contract to add Falk, so the Wild did them a favor. Ferriero, 26, has 14 goals and 23 points in 96 games for San Jose and New York.

Falk, a 2007 fourth-round pick by the Wild, had 15 points in 108 games for Minnesota, and this gives him a chance to become an everyday player.

“I’m excited about the new opportunity here,” Falk said. “It’s a new chapter that I’m looking forward to. … I felt I didn’t quite develop the way that I would have liked this last year. I want to continue to build my career, and this is a new start in New York.”

If the Wild buys out Tom Gilbert this week, it will be in the market for a defenseman or two. Fletcher expects he’ll be able to get bargains later this summer.

Fletcher also said he has made progress trying to re-sign Jared Spurgeon, “but we’re not there yet.”

Wait is worth it for Grand Rapids center

Center Avery Peterson was starting to get nervous as he sat for hours in the Prudential Center on Sunday. But finally, with the 167th pick, his home-state Wild drafted the Grand Rapids native in the sixth round.

Peterson, 18, a junior Wild fan who scored twice in the Thunderhawks’ Hockey Day Minnesota overtime victory over Benilde-St. Margaret’s, was pumped.

“From the first round on, you just sit there and wait for your name to be called,” said Peterson, who scored 23 goals and 54 points in 23 games. “Finally it did. You get nervous, but you get over that and enjoy the moment.”

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