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The Minnesota Wild at the NHL Draft

06/21/2019, 9:45am CDT
By Kevin Kurtt - Let's Play Hockey Editor

42% of the Minnesota Wild’s picks at the NHL Draft make it to the NHL. Where does that rank among other teams?


Zack Phillips, selected 28th overall in 2011, is one of only three Minnesota Wild first-round selections who has not yet yet played a game in the NHL. Let’s Play Hockey photo by Mike Thill

The past three NHL Drafts have been relatively uneventful for Minnesota Wild with the team selecting only twice in the first two rounds total. Minnesota had a franchise-low four picks in 2016, followed by six picks in 2017 and eight picks in 2018. Historically, the Wild averages about 7-8 picks per draft. For a team looking to stock its prospect pool, Minnesota’s 18 selections the past three years didn’t make a huge dent.

However, one look at the numbers shows that, in terms of producing NHL players, the NHL Draft is a giant crapshoot. Take the 2018-19 season-ending roster of the Wild, for example. Of the 27 players, only eight were originally drafted by Minnesota, while two were signed by the Wild as undrafted free agents. Over 70% of the Wild’s roster was either drafted by another team or not drafted at all, demonstrating that the draft is just a small part of putting together an NHL roster, with trades and free agency playing a major role.

Looking further, 16 players on the Wild’s roster were drafted in the first three rounds, including 11 first-round picks. Of those 11 first rounders, five went in the top 10. Clearly, getting drafted early is a predictor of making it to the NHL, at least for the Wild’s roster this past season.

Entering the 2019 NHL Draft, Minnesota has selected 137 players in 19 drafts, not including the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft. Of those 137 players, 42% (57 players) have played at least one game in the NHL. Of those players, only 30 have played 100 or more NHL games. So, just 22% of the Wild’s all-time draftees have played 100 games in the NHL.

Getting drafted early is certainly a predictor of playing in the NHL for Minnesota’s all-time draft picks. In fact, 83% of the Wild’s first-round picks (15 of 18) have made it to the NHL. Thirteen of those 15 players have played 100 or more games. 

The three players who have not made it to the NHL are A.J. Thelen (2004 Draft), Zack Phillips (2011) and Filip Johansson (2018). Additionally, 2008 pick Tyler Cuma has played in only one NHL game. 

Minnesota has had eight draft picks in the top 10 in franchise history, and all eight have gone on to play 100 or more NHL games. Outside the top 10, the Wild is batting .700 with three first-round picks not yet making the NHL, four picks playing between 1-99 games and three picks with 100 or more games.

Using 100 career games as a measure of success, it’s clear that the higher a player is drafted, the more likely he is to play a season or more worth of games in the NHL.  Seventy-two percent of the Wild’s first-round picks have played 100 or more games. After the first round, that number dips to 40% for second-rounders, and 18% third- and fourth-rounders. Only one of the Wild’s 34 fifth- or sixth-round picks (Darcy Kuemper) has played 100 or more NHL games. Four seventh- and eighth-round picks – Lubomir Sekeras, Derek Boogaard, Anton Khudobin and Erik Haula – have played 100 or more games.

Until 2018, the Minnesota Wild had two general managers in the franchise’s 18-year history – Doug Risebrough and Chuck Fletcher. Through 18 drafts – nine for each GM – 50% of Risebrough’s picks made it to the NHL vs. Fletcher’s 37%. Similarly, 29% of Risebrough’s draft picks have played 100 or more NHL games vs. 17% of Fletcher’s picks. Of course, several of Fletcher’s selections in recent years will have a chance to reach the NHL in upcoming seasons.

But how does the Wild compare with other NHL franchises? Quite closely, as a matter of fact.

Take this season’s Stanley Cup Finals teams, the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. Thirty-nine percent of the Blues’ selections from 2000-18 have made the NHL vs. 55% of the Bruins’ picks. Minnesota’s 42% fits firmly between those two teams’ percentages. How about draft picks that end up playing 100 or more games? The Wild’s 22 percent is slightly above the Blues’ and Bruins’ 21 percent.

Take the past two Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues. Thirty-six percent of Washington’s selections from 2000-18 have made the NHL vs. 39% of the Blues picks. Minnesota’s 42% sits slightly higher than those two teams’ percentages. How about draft picks that end up playing 100 or more games? The Wild’s 22 percent is between the Blues’ 21 percent and the Capitals’ 23 percent.

Minnesota’s closest comparison may be the Columbus Blue Jackets, the franchise that joined the NHL at the same time as the Wild. While the Jackets have had 22 more draft picks all-time, the percentages are similar – 44% of Columbus picks make the NHL, 26% play 100 games.

League-wide, those percentages are about the same. Approximately 40% of all draft picks from 2000-18 have made the NHL, and 20-25% have played 100 or more games.

While fans love to point out the Wild’s draft misses and enjoy using examples of other teams’ draft successes, the numbers show that the NHL Entry Draft is really just a giant lottery ticket. 

Minnesota Wild Draft Notes

• Through 19 NHL Drafts, the Minnesota Wild have drafted 137 players.
• 41 percent (57 players) of the Wild’s all-time draft picks have played at least one NHL game.
• 22 percent (30 players) of the Wild’s draft picks have played 100 or more NHL games.
• The Minnesota Wild’s best drafts (most players reached NHL):
    - 2007, 4 of 5 (80 percent)
    - 2001, 5 of 7 (71 percent)
    - 2000, 6 of 9 and 2010, 4 of 6 (67 percent)
    - 2009, 5 of 8 (63 percent)
• The Minnesota Wild’s most successful draft picks (by NHL games played)
    - D Nick Schultz, 2000 2nd round, 1066 NHL games
    - D Brent Burns, 2003 1st round, 1043 NHL games
    - F Marian Gaborik, 2000 1st round, 1035 NHL games
    - F Mikko Koivu, 2001 1st round, 973 NHL games
    - F Cal Clutterbuck, 2006 3rd round, 787 NHL games
    - D Nick Leddy, 2009 1st round, 660 NHL games
    - F Benoit Pouliot, 2005 1st round, 625 NHL games
    - F Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 2002 1st round, 593 NHL games
    - D Marco Scandella, 2008 2nd round, 518 NHL games
    - F Stephane Veilleux, 2001 3rd round, 506 NHL games
• The Minnesota Wild’s most successful draft picks (by NHL points)
    - F Marian Gaborik, 2000 1st round, 407-408--815
    - F Mikko Koivu, 2001 1st round, 201-487--688
    - D Brent Burns, 2003 1st round, 198-451--649
    - F Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 2002 1st round, 110-246--356
    - F Mikael Granlund, 2010 1st round, 94-228--322
    - D Nick Leddy, 2009 1st round, 60-224--284
    - F Benoit Pouliot, 2005 1st round, 130-133--263
    - F Cal Clutterbuck, 2006 3rd round, 117-112--229
    - F Jason Zucker, 2010 2nd round, 118-96--214
• The Minnesota Wild’s most successful late-round picks (by NHL games played):
    - F Erik Haula, 2009 7th round, 357 NHL games
    - F Derek Boogaard, 2001 7th round, 277 NHL games
    - D Lubomir Sekeras, 2000 8th round, 213 NHL games
    - G Anton Khudobin, 2004 7th round, 188 NHL games
    - G Darcy Kuemper, 2009 6th round, 166 NHL games

Minnesota Wild Draft Picks (2000-18) • NHL Games Played • By Draft Year

YEAR 1-49 GAMES 50-99 GAMES 100+ GAMES TOTAL
2000 3/9 (33%) 0/9 (0%) 3/9 (0%) 6/9 (67%)
2001 1/7 (14%) 1/7 (14%) 3/7 (43%) 5/7 (71%)
2002 2/10 (20%) 1/10 (10%) 2/10 (20%) 5/10 (50%)
2003 1/9 (11%) 0/9 (0%) 2/9 (22%) 3/9 (33%)
2004 2/12 (17%) 0/12 (0%) 4/12 (33%) 6/12 (50%)
2005 0/7 (0%) 1/7 (14%) 1/7 (14%) 2/7 (29%)
2006 0/7 (0%) 0/7 (0%) 2/7 (29%) 2/7 (29%)
2007 2/5 (40%) 0/5 (0%) 2/5 (40%) 4/5 (80%)
2008 1/4 (25%) 0/4 (0%) 1/4 (25%) 2/4 (50%)
2009 2/8 (25%) 0/8 (0%) 3/8 (38%) 5/8 (63%)
2010 1/6 (17%) 0/6 (0%) 3/6 (50%) 4/6 (67%)
2011 0/6 (17%) 2/6 (33%) 1/6 (17%) 3/6 (50%)
2012 1/7 (14%) 0/7 (0%) 1/7 (14%) 2/7 (29%)
2013 2/7 (29%) 1/7 (14%) 0/7 (0%) 3/7 (43%)
2014 1/8 (13%) 0/8 (0%) 1/8 (13%) 2/8 (25%)
2015 0/7 (0%) 1/7 (14%) 1/7 (14%) 2/7 (29%)
2016 0/4 (0%) 1/4 (25%) 0/4 (0%) 1/4 (25%)
2017 0/6 (0%) 0/6 (0%) 0/6 (0%) 0/6 (0%)
2018 0/8 (0% 0/8 (0%) 0/8 (0%) 0/8 (0%)
Total 19/137 (14%) 8/137 (6%) 30/137 (22%) 57/137 (42%)

Minnesota Wild Draft Picks (2000-18) • NHL Games Played • By Draft Position

ROUND 1-49 GAMES 50-99 GAMES 100+ GAMES
1st 2/17 (12%) 2/17 (12%) 11/17 (65%)
1-5 0/2 (0%) 0/2 (0%) 2/2 (100%)
6-10 0/6 (0%) 0/6 (0%) 6/6 (100%)
11-30 2/9 (22%) 2/9 (22%) 3/9 (33%)
2nd 2/15 (13%) 3/15 (20%) 6/15 (40%)
3rd 6/14 (43%) 0/14 (0%) 3/14 (21%)
4th 2/19 (11%) 0/19 (0%) 3/19 (16%)
5th 4/14 (29%) 0/14 (0%) 0/14 (0%)
6th 2/17 (13%) 1/17 (6%) 1/17 (6%)
7th 2/24 (8%) 1/24 (4%) 3/24 (13%)
8th 1/4 (25%) 0/4 (0%) 1/4 (25%)
9th 1/4 (25%) 0/4 (0%) 0/4 (0%)

Where the 2018-19 Minnesota Wild were picked

ROUND PICK YEAR PLAYER TEAM AMATEUR TEAM (LEAGUE)
1 2 2003 Eric Staal Carolina Peterborough (OHL)
1 6 2001 Mikko Koivu Minnesota TPS Turku (FIN)
1 7 2012 Matt Dumba Minnesota Red Deer (WHL)
1 7 2003 Ryan Suter Nashville USNTDP (NAHL)
1 10 2011 Jonas Brodin Minnesota Färjestad (SWE)
1 11 2014 Kevin Fiala Nashville HV71 (SWE)
1 14 2004 Devan Dubnyk Edmonton Kamloops (WHL)
1 15 2016 Luke Kunin Minnesota Wisconsin (B1G)
1 17 2003 Zach Parise New Jersey North Dakota (WCHA)
1 18 2003 Eric Fehr Washington Brandon (WHL)
1 20 2015 Joel Eriksson Ek Minnesota Färjestad (SWE)
2 37 2012 Pontus Aberg Nashville Djurgårdens (SWE)
2 42 2011 Victor Rask Carolina Leksands (SWE)
2 50 2015 Jordan Greenway Minnesota USNTDP (NAHL)
2 56 2014 Ryan Donato Boston Dexter School
2 59 2010 Jason Zucker Minnesota USNTDP (NAHL)
4 104 2009 Marcus Foligno Buffalo Sudbury (OHL)
4 112 2005 Alex Stalock San Jose Cedar Rapids (USHL)
5 128 2008 Greg Pateryn Toronto Ohio (USHL)
5 131 2011 Nick Seeler Minnesota Eden Prairie HS (MSHSL)
6 156 2008 Jared Spurgeon N.Y. Islanders Spokane (WHL)
6 168 2010 Anthony Bitetto Nashville Indiana (USHL)
Undrafted 2019 Mat Robson Minnesota Minnesota (B1G)
Undrafted 2019 Nico Sturm Minnesota Clarkson (ECAC)
Undrafted 2012 J.T. Brown Tampa Bay Minnesota Duluth (WCHA)
Undrafted 2012 Brad Hunt Vancouver Bemidji State (WCHA)
Undrafted 2011 Matt Read Philadelphia Bemidji State (WCHA)

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