What can the Wild do with No. 12 pick in the NHL draft?
ST. PAUL -- Paul Fenton joked that he would have been “doing some hand stands” if the Wild won the NHL Draft Lottery, and with it, the ability to draft one of the two best prospects available, American Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko of Finland.
No gymnastics necessary for the Wild’s 59-year-old general manager.
Not only did the Wild miss out on a chance to select either of those top amateurs, they actually moved back a spot back to the No. 12 pick in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft.
To make matters worse, the rival Chicago Blackhawks moved all the way up to the No. 3 pick. They will have the next few months to scout every player not named Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, knowing full well those prospects will be there when they’re on the clock.
As for the Wild, since their draft status only budged a bit, and Fenton is still confident they can get a very good player.
“It’s really good,” Fenton said of the prospect pool. “I would say right now that our scouts have said they have a great feel for the Top 15.”
No matter how everything shakes out, Fenton emphasized that he won’t draft with a particular position in mind. He also was quick to remind that earlier in his career, with the Nashville Predators, he was able to grab franchise blue-line mainstays Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
“I did it (during the in the 2003 NHL Draft) thinking that the defensemen we took would put a franchise on the map, and it did,” Fenton said. “That said, we’re not going to specifically look at a position here, we are looking at the asset. We know where our deficiencies are. We also know the way to handle the draft is to take the best player available.”
Frankly, that’s probably the best way for the Wild to do it, especially considering the player they draft probably won’t be in the NHL for a few years anyway.
While Fenton will no doubt do some advanced scouting of his own in the coming weeks, he has entrusted his son, P.J. Fenton, and Darren Yopyk to run the draft table.
“They have been handling everything, and they will be doing it together,” Fenton said. “I have lots of confidence in the both of them.”
Fenton says this draft it is for the future of the franchise.
“It’s a huge draft for us,” Fenton said. “This organization has traded away picks for the last six years, and that has affected where we are with the development of our prospects, of lack of prospects, and we have to build from within. That is part of my motto, and part of the reason that I’m here, is that we are going to be able to develop from within.”
You have to go back to the 2004 NHL Draft to find the only other time the Wild owned the No. 12 pick. They selected A.J. Thielen, who never played a game in the NHL. That said, the No. 12 pick has produced some solid players over the years.
Here’s a look at the cream of the crop.
- Dave Gagner (1983): 946 games 318 goals, 401 assists
- Gary Roberts (1984): 1,224 games, 438 goals 472 assists
- Marian Hossa (1997): 1,309 games, 525 goals, 609 assists
- Alex Tanguay (1998): 1,088 games, 283 goals, 580 assists
- Ryan McDonagh (2007): 612 games, 62 goals, 225 assists
- Tyler Myers (2008): 635 games, 74 goals, 191 assists
- Cam Fowler (2010): 620 games, 58 goals, 214 assists
- Max Domi (2013): 304 games, 64 goals, 143 assists