When: Friday, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.
Where: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, N.Y.
Format: Round 1, Friday; Rounds 2-7, Saturday.
TV: Friday, NBC Sports Network; Saturday, NHL Net.
Wild picks: Four.
1. Auston Matthews, C, 6-2, 200, ZSC (Zurich, Switzerland): Missed the cutoff for last year’s NHL draft by two days, so he left the U.S. National 18-and-under program and played professionally in Switzerland. Great size, speed and talent make him a prolific offensive player.
2. Patrik Laine, RW, 6-4, 210, Tappara (Finland): Another big, talented guy who isn’t as good a skater as Matthews, but might be a better two-way player. He had an impressive performance on Finland’s gold medal-winning junior team, which put him in the No. 2 spot.
3. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, 6-3, 200, Karpat (Finland): MVP of the world junior tournament. Combines size, skating and skill to easily be a top-five pick. Projected to get stronger and be a more physical player; more a playmaker than a scorer.
4. Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, 6-3, 205, Cape Breton (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League): Some scouts consider him the most complete player in the draft. A dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., but played for Canadian junior team. Had a 42-goal, 99-point season for the Screaming Eagles.
5. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, 6-1, 195, London (Ontario Hockey League): The son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk projects as a power forward with strong scoring potential. Fifth in scoring in the OHL, he helped the Knights to the Memorial Cup title, scoring the Cup-winning goal in overtime. Tied Matthews for the scoring lead on the bronze medal U.S. junior team.
A look back at the Wild’s 2015-16 season
The Wild was motoring along pretty well until the rug was pulled out from under its season. The Wild did a quality job avoiding the annual winter swoon and beat Dallas in January to have the winningest first half in franchise history (52 points). But they abruptly lost 13 of 14 games, including eight in a row. It resulted in Mike Yeo’s firing and John Torchetti’s promotion from Iowa of the AHL on an interim basis. For a while, the coaching change appeared to provide a spark. The Wild went 15-6-1 before backing into the playoffs with five consecutive losses. While making the postseason for a fourth consecutive year, the Wild bowed out to Dallas in the quarterfinals. It didn’t help that veteran scorers Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek were sidelined because of injuries. Torchetti nonethess failed to survive as coach, with the team hiring veteran Bruce Boudreau.
What the Wild is looking for
Scoring and centers. The Wild lacks blue-chip prospects and is coming off a three-year stint in which its chief farm team, Iowa, was the worst team in the AHL for two years in a row after being the worst team in the Western Conference three years ago.
In the past five drafts, there have only been two Minnesotans taken in the first round. This year there could be two — Kieffer Bellows and Riley Tufte (right). Bellows, heading to Boston University, won state with Edina in 2014 and was USHL Rookie of the Year in ’15. Tufte, Minnesota Duluth bound, led the Metro with 49 goals last season for Blaine.
Did you know?
Toronto will pick first for the first time since 1985 (Wendel Clark) and could become the first team to select the first and last pick of the first round in history. The Leafs have 12 picks.
11 Americans taken in the first round (2010), a number that could be broken this year.
11 New Jersey
19 N.Y. Islanders
20 Arizona (from Rangers)
21 Carolina (from L.A.)
22 Winnipeg (from Chi.)
27 Tampa Bay
28 St. Louis
29 Boston (from San Jose)
30 Toronto (from Pitt.)