Projecting the pick

The Wild holds eight picks in the 2018 NHL draft, including No. 24. That selection late in the first round is viewed as extremely unpredictable; the team could be faced with a handful of scenarios.

Falling from the cloud

Center Ryan McLeod is ranked as the 16th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and could easily be off the board by the time the Wild selects. But if he falls, he could be a slick pickup. Hyped as a playmaker who can motor, McLeod racked up 70 points in the Ontario Hockey League last season — 26 on goals. He also has the stature to compete, as he’s listed at 6-2, 206.

Local logic

The Wild has drafted only 13 Minnesota natives, but maybe the team adds another this year in the first round. Hopkins’ K’Andre Miller could be available, and his skill set is intriguing. While he hasn’t always been a defenseman, he has settled in as a puck-mover who can transition play up ice. Miller is athletic at 6-3, and has merited attention for his potential.

Wild-card direction

Ryan Merkley is perhaps the draft’s most polarizing player. His strengths are clear, as a righthanded defenseman who racked up 67 points in 63 games in the OHL last season. But a risky style coupled with questions about his attitude make it unclear when he could get drafted. It’s entirely possible his name still won’t have been called when the Wild’s first pick comes up.