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  • How Did the Wild Let 'One Of Us' Fall Into Enemy Hands?

    Image courtesy of Christopher Hanewinc-USA TODAY Sports
    Tom Schreier

    There weren’t many draft-day trades this year. Many of them were teams trying to find a slight edge, and none were blockbusters. For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning got the 37th overall pick from the Montreal Canadiens via the Colorado Avalanche, and the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired the final pick in the draft from the Vegas Golden Knights. The Minnesota Wild took six players, three of them locals, but the lack of draft-day trades may have prevented them from grabbing the first Minnesotan off the board. And it could haunt them in the future.

    Experts had Oliver Moore projected to be taken anywhere from fifth to 20th overall in this year’s draft, settling near Pick 12. However, Moore dropped precipitously close to Minnesota’s range. The Chicago Blackhawks took Moore, who grew up in Mounds View and attended Totino-Grace, at 19th overall. The Wild took Rosemount’s Charlie Stramel two picks after that. Later, they took Hermantown’s Aaron Poink at 149 and Edina’s James Clark at 213. But Moore is a US National Development Team player who offers the most upside of the Minnesotans. Now he’s in Chicago. Will he and Connor Bedard eventually bedevil the Wild?

    Minnesota’s goal in the draft isn’t to localize their roster. It’s to build a contending team, and a big part of that is player development.  They have one of the league’s deepest talent pools. Their issue was turning top prospects like Calen Addison and Marco Rossi into reliable NHL players. That means that Director of Amateur Scouting Judd Brackett is doing his job, but the coaching staff needs to get that talent to manifest in St. Paul. Brackett and his staff targeted size in this year’s draft, selecting two big centers with their first two selections. But they might have been able to grab Moore with their left hand and Stramel with their right as they fell – if only the other teams were willing to trade with them.

    It would have been tricky to trade up for Moore. The Winnipeg Jets owned Pick 18, one ahead of Chicago. The Wild would likely have had to trade up to 17 to avoid making a trade within the division, and the cost of moving up increases with each pick. Moore could turn into a star in Chicago, making him the proverbial one that got away. But it can also be counterproductive to load up division rivals with draft picks or other trade assets. Teams that trade down typically receive the most value. Furthermore, the NHL's draft is less certain than in other sports, given that the players are younger and less ready for the highest level. That has to be part of why Minnesota took three centers, to get as many chances to yield an NHL center as possible.

    The Wild may have reached for Stramel, given his college production. Stramel had five goals and seven assists in 33 games at the University of Wisconsin last year. However, the Badgers had a down year, and Stramel had 22 points in 26 games with the U18 National Development Team the year before. He may not be a pure goal scorer, but he’s shown he’s capable of getting points against good competition. And college production isn’t everything. Matt Boldy only scored 20 goals in 57 games at Boston College, and he had 31 goals with the Wild last year. But Stramel’s lack of production caused his stock to drop, and Minnesota may have been able to move back and still get him – if only they had a trade partner.

    Looking at the draft purely through a partition lens, the Wild did well this year. Never before had they taken three Minnesota-born players, and previous GMs were reluctant to take them in general. Doug Risenbrough mostly eschewed local players. However, he used Minnesota’s first-round pick on A.J. Thelen in 2004. Thelen grew up in Savage and played for Shattuck-St. Mary’s and the US National Development team. He spent two years at Michigan State before they dismissed him for rules infractions and landed in the WHL. However, Thelen spent most of his career in the ECHL, only played in 10 AHL games, and never reached the NHL. 

    Chuck Fletcher drafted more Minnesotans during his career but never took three local players in one draft. In 2009, he used his first-round pick on Eden Prarie defenseman Nick Leddy, who’s had a solid career so far. However, Fletcher dealt Leddy and Kim Johnsson to Chicago for Cam Barker, a lopsided trade. Like Leddy, Moore may become a reliable contributor for the rival Blackhawks. But failing to trade up for Moore is less of a sin than trading Leddy for Barker, who played a season-and-a-half in Minnesota and was out of the league by 26.

    It was disappointing for many fans to see Moore go to Chicago at 19, two spots ahead of where the Wild picked. But Minnesota landed three quality local players and addressed their need for size up the middle. Many pundits have panned the Wild for drafting for need rather than taking the best player available at each spot. However, given the nature of player development in the NHL, it will be a while before we know if their strategy paid off. By then, we’ll also know if Moore became a star, the one that got away in a draft where Minnesota took three other players from their backyard.

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    Only time will tell.  The Wild are one of the smaller teams in the league in both height and weight... we need size.  Stramel wins the size contest.  I'm quite happy with the draft.  I do hope we find a way to start working these young players into the lineup.   It's great having a stacked prospect pool... but would be even better to start winning some playoff games.

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    I'm not ready to give up on Moore. Chicago still has to sign him. He said all the right things after being drafted by the Blackhawks, but how big of a fan was he of the Wild? Could there be hope? Well, if he plays out his college career and then doesn't sign, he could sign here. I'd love to stick it to the 'hawks.

    What would it have cost to get up to 17? Obviously the price was too high. I'd think dangling Addison with 21 would have started the conversation. I would think that Rossi + Addison could have gotten it done. But what if the price would have been Rossi + Addison + 21=17 or 17 + 41? 

    That would have been a steep price to move up 4 slots. Also, in the after draft pictures, Stramel and Moore were seen hugging each other in celebration. They seem like pretty good friends.

    Could the Wild obtain the rights to Moore still in a trade? I think it still could be done. But, I also think Chicago loved Moore. There was talk on draft night about Chicago badly wanting to move up, I suspect, to get Moore. They couldn't move up either. 

    Detroit took a guy that looks a lot like Addison. I think Addison being part of that deal would have been a good fit. Detroit would have had him ready for the season, not have to wait 4 years. To me, it seemed like all of the GMs in the teens were pretty greedy so they must have really liked the guys on the board. 

    I can tell you, I'd gladly move Heidt to get Moore. Both seem like similar players, and I think there might be a rivalry there once they both make the NHL. '24 should be an interesting year. Lambos, The Wall, Ohgren, Yurov, Khus$%^& all have delivery dates set for that year. I also think O'Rourke and Hunt should be ready for the bottom pairing. 

    It would be nice to have Moore in that mix. Stramel has a chance to be in that same mix. Beckman and Walker are also in that mix. I listened to Stramel's interviews. He sounds like an extremely motivated guy this offseason. Personally, I think he was embarrassed with himself last season and he will be running roughshod over several players in the B1G this year. 

    Capable centers is what we all wanted. We've got excellent wings which is where the offense will come from. Did we really need highly spectacular centers with that, or did we simply need competence at the position and fill it with Eks? I believe the latter to be true. Big guys who can bang home rebounds and hammer defenders in the corners!

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    Maybe I'd like to amend the Heidt statement, here's his elite prospects scouting report:


    Nasty physically, despite his 5-foot-11 frame, Heidt has the handling, shooting, and vision to inflict major damage on opponents. He takes the extra stride to play the body, never passes up an opportunity to sneak in a shot behind the play, and is an enthusiastic combatant in scrums. On retrievals, Heidt establishes inside positioning early, drives through opponents’ hands, and separates them from the puck. And the use of contact to create space in the small area game allows him to spin off of defensive pressure and attack the inside. -EliteProspects 2023 NHL Draft Guide

    Maybe we got a pretty physical guy who will put in the gym work for the next levels?

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    'One of us.'

    I guess that's really up to interpretation. At this point I'm HOPING that Dumba was sincere about his 'Heart being in Minny' and is planning to take a very friendly two year deal to get past the buyouts with the understanding he'll be slightly overpaid following. I (personally) would be very happy with that deal. I also think he might be holding off this current FA to see if Billy G makes any maneuvers to make him such an offer.

    I know that Dumba is a lightening rod of controversy, both on and off the ice, but I'd take him over all of our other D-men, minus Brodin and Spurgeon.

    If not, the Stars #vomit are currently one of the teams looking at signing Dumba supposedly. I don't know if I could stomach that after everything Dallas and Norm Green has already stolen from us.

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    6 hours ago, Millante said:

    At this point I'm HOPING that Dumba was sincere about his 'Heart being in Minny' and is planning to take a very friendly two year deal to get past the buyouts with the understanding he'll be slightly overpaid following.

    There could be a gentleman's agreement for Dumba to get his offer and circle back one more time with Shooter to see if he can come close. There's not a lot of money from the contending teams to throw out there. 

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