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  • Where are They Now? Wild Draft Picks in 2004


    First, a first round pick who simply suits up 200 times does not seem like a win to me. A first rounder needs to contribute to the franchise's success. Second rounders, the same. I would say the third round would be about the soonest I would except a guy for fourth line duty for 200 games as a win. First and second rounders should contribute and be top players on the team, or bring something valuable to the franchise.

    Second, there are few players that have played 200 games in Wild jerseys that never would have gotten that chance in another franchise. Stephane Veillieux is one of them. He would have been in the AHL for much, much longer in any other franchise. However, the Wild were, and still are, a young franchise. They put people into roles they likely should not have been in, long before they were technically ready to do so. This results in a handful of guys playing and being "career players" long before they should have, and resulting in them not developing properly.

    Completely different observation, while I have noticed that the majority of players drafted are not immediately recognizable NHL names, many of these picks are Europeans. Not to say that Europeans cannot play, what I mean to say is that it looks like many franchises were taking gambles with high picks on foreign players, and many of those players never made the jump to North America.

    Please remember, a player rated a s a bust is as more of a slight on the management, not directly on the player.

    With that, let's look at the class of 2004. This is a doozy. Buckle up.

    First Round: AJ Thelen - When discussing worst draft picks of the last ten years, AJ Thelen always comes up. I'm not talking worst Wild draft picks, I'm talking worst draft picks of any team. Alexander Daigle is the worst, but Thelen is on the list. AJ has played a total of ten games, ten, at the AHL level. He has been in the ECHL his entire professional career, and is a mediocre player, at best, at that level. This is the worst pick in franchise history.

    Result: Major Bust

    Result: Bust.

    Result: Bust.

    In all honestly, defensemen take a bit longer to develop than forward, so Stoner is still a work in progress. My guess is he gets a full time shot at the NHL next season, and it will be make or break.

    Result: Neutral -  The injuries are worrisome, but he has yet to be given his shot. After next season we can pass full judgment. If he makes the squad, he is a win. If he doesn't, he is headed toward being a bust.

    Round Four: Three picks this round. Hang on tight. (The story of this fourth round is long. The Wild traded away their pick, then traded for three other team's picks.)

    Result: I say win. The franchise got some return from him, which is more than can be said for most of these picks.

    Patrick Bordeleau (LW) - Since being drafted, Bordeleau has played for 15 different teams. 15. He has had no NHL experience, and just this season has seen his first extended AHL time with the Lake Eerie Monsters. In 46 games with the Monsters, he has two points. He looks destined to be a career ECHL guy.

    Result: Bust.

    Result: Bust.

    Round Five: Jean-Claude Sawyer (D) - Another player who has made his career in the ECHL. He has seen very limited time in the AHL and has little to no chance of ever seeing extended time. He is currently with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.

    Result: Bust

    Result: Bust.

    Round Seven: Two picks in this one due to trades in prior seasons.

    Jean-Michael Rizk (RW) - While I can see why the Wild may have drafted him, with 81 points in one season in the OHL, Rizk never did much after that. His last reported season was 08-09 in the Canadian Inter-university League.

    Result: Bust

    Result - Neutral, leaning toward win. He showed his ability, but he seems streaky.

    Round Eight: No pick. Traded with Darby Hendrickson to the Avs for a fourth round pick in 2005.

    Get this. Pekke Rinne was drafted with the last pick of this round. Quite the find.

    Result: Bust for the Wild. Win for the Caps.

    Summary: Certainly a candidate for worst draft in team history. Stoner and Khudobin have the last chances to save this draft from the cesspool of hockey history. Jones and Wilson seem to be doing well in other organizations, but that doesn't count. Once they are out of the Dark Ages and into the light, that is no longer a success for the Wild. All in all, I give this draft an F. Stoner and Borat may be able to pull that up to a D if they become long term NHLers.


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