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The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Draft Day Is Upon Us

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 Round  Pick  Player
 Round 1  #9  C James Sheppard - Cape Breton (QMJHL)
 Round 1  #17  Traded to Los Angeles along with Patrick O’Sullivan for Pavol Demitra     

 Round 2  #40  C Ondrej Fiala - Everett (WHL)
 Round 3  #72  RW Cal Clutterbuck - Oshawa (OHL)
 Round 4  #102  D Kyle Medvec - Apple Valley High School (MN)
 Round 5  #132  G Niko Hovinen - Jokerit Jr. (Finnish Jr.)
 Round 6  #162  F Julien Walker - Basel (Swiss)
 Round 7  #192  C Chris Hickey - Cretin Derham Hall high school (MN)

Well, hello again State of Hockey Legion! For those of you who haven’t swung by this website since April 15, welcome back! Shame on you, but welcome back.

Some of you may be familiar with the live in-game commentary that takes place on the Gameday page for each and every Wild game. Today, we’re going to utilize that same formula as we provide Draft coverage live from the General Motors Place in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia (Note: It’s a written law around here that any time one uses the words Vancouver, British Columbia, they must be preceded by one of the following adjectives: gorgeous, scenic, lovely or beautiful).

I am coming to you live from the very last row of the media risers here at the Garage, and before me are hundreds of middle-aged men in fancy suites, who are chatting, chewing gum and planning their draft/trade strategies.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the event, let’s wish a happy St. Jean Baptiste Day to all the Quebecois and Quebecettes who might be following along. In your honor, perhaps the Wild will select a young French Canadian like Derrick Brassard, Stefano Giliati, Claude Giroux, or Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s kid brother, Francois. All of them possess talent, upside and superb hockey names.

Secondly, I would be remiss to not wish a Happy Birthday to Tom Thompson, the Wild’s Assistant General Manager who will be running the show for today’s draft. Every pick the Wild make today will run through this man. Draft Day is where his bread is buttered, but today, it’s also when his cake is frosted.

Thirdly, I would like to congratulate the Carolina Hurricanes on winning the Stanley Cup, and thank the city of Vancouver, its people and the NHL for putting on an exceptional event.

Nearly all of the Wild’s heavy hitters are in Vancouver today including chairman Bob Naegele, Jr.,  President/General Manager Doug Risebrough, head coach Jacques Lemaire, nearly every team scout, and of course, Wild media relations guru, Aaron Sickman.

Keep your computers locked to this page, and keep hitting the refresh button. We will be bringing you live updates, features and in-draft commentary as the Minnesota Wild embark on the franchise’s seventh NHL Entry Draft.

The draft begins at 5:00 PM central time, and can be viewed live on OLN through the first round. But we’ll be here all night baby! So don’t you go anywhere, I don’t care how nice it is outside back in our great state of Minnesota. 

The later rounds

11:20 - That’s going to do it for this year’s edition of live in-draft commentary. I hope you had as much fun as I did. And may I say, welcome to the Pavol Demitra era.

11:15 - The Wild wraps up its 2006 draft pick with another Minnesotan, and a state champion, in center Chris Hickey of Cretin Derham Hall high school.

10:47 - The Wild makes its sixth round pick and takes Julien Walker of Switzerland and...I can’t find anything on this guy. You might have to do a google search.

10:25 - My dreams of "catchy headline" nirvana are dashed when Edmonton steals away Cody Wild in the fifth round with the 142nd pick.

10:14 - The Wild makes its fifth selection of the day, taking a goaltender from Finland, Niko Hovinen. Get this, he’s 6-foot-7, 200 pounds. His father was a world class javelin thrower.

10:00 - Most of the prospects that are in the building have been taken, but a random burst of excitement erupts from the stands when Pierre-Luc Lessard is taken with the 121st pick by Ottawa.

9:36 - There’s the Minnesota connection for the Wild. With the team’s fourth round pick at number 102, Minnesota goes with Apple Valley high school defenseman, Kyle Medvec, who towers at 6-foot-5, but could use a few of these NHL Draft cookies to pack on some weight to his 190-pound frame.

9:26 - Round three wraps up with Carolina taking Harrison Reed, and St. Louis back on the clock in round four.

9:25 - There are a few prospects in the stands still anxiously waiting to be picked, but the atmosphere has significantly changed. The cheers are all but gone, and a lot of the decorations are being taken down.

9:24 - Warroad’s Aaron Marvin goes to the Calgary Flames in the third round with the 89th pick.

9:13 - Two Minnesota connections are taken back-to-back with the 80th and 81st picks, as Michael Forney of Thief River Falls goes to Atlanta, and future Gopher Michael Carman is taken by Colorado.

9:06 - It’s meal time for this cat. I’ll check in after devouring a prime rib sandwich.

9:04 - Once again, don’t every pay attention to what I say. The Wild brass doesn’t. They opt for Cal Clutterbuck, who was ranked 24th overall in the final Central Scouting Rankings. He easily ranks in the top five for great hockey names available. 

9:00 - The Wild is up next with the 70th overall pick, and my prediction is that we’re going to scoop up Providence College’s Cody Wild, for naming purposes only.

8:48 - Just like that, the second round is over. We are flying through the draft now. Some of the bigger names to go since the Wild picked Fiala were Cory Emmerton to Detroit, Michael Ratchuk to Philadelphia, Nigel Williams to Colorado, Keith Seabrook to Washington and Blake Geoffrion to Nashville.

8:36 - I just returned to my perch after meeting with a very excited Ondrej Fiala. Fiala is clearly learning English, but he did a great job in answering questions without the aid of a translator. Nice kid by the looks of things.

8:24 - It’s rapid-fire right now, and the Wild cause the biggest fan reaction in the second round by taking Ondrej Fiala, a native of the Czech Republic, who posted 21 goals and 14 assists in 51 games with Everett of the Western Hockey League.

8:15 - The Bouchard brothers will not team up in Minnesota. The Washington Capitals snatch Francois Bouchard and he embraces his brother, Pierre-Marc upon hearing the news.

8:13 - The second round is much, much different than the first round. Gary Bettman is gone. The players are no longer escorted up to the stage, and meals are being served at the team tables. Several picks are being made with full mouths.

8:06 - Just two picks into the second round goes another Minnesotan. Brainerd’s Carl Sneep is selected by Pittsburgh.

First Round highlights

8:01 - Well, it took just under three hours, but the wild first round has drawn to a close with New Jersey’s selection of Matthew Corrente. My head is still spinning as I try to spin out stories relating to Sheppard and the blockbuster we just pulled off.

A point of interest is that Francois Bouchard is still on the board, but he’ll have to fall 10 more spots for the Wild to have a shot at him.

7:48 - Nick Foligno of Buffalo, New York, is taken by the Ottawa Senators, making him the ninth American taken in today’s draft.

7:35 - An eventful first round is winding down. New Jersey and St. Louis swapped picks, and the Blues make Patrik Berglund their second first round pick of the day.

7:18 - Wow! Sorry for the lack of updates. Doug Risebrough just met with a large media scrum to talk about the shocking trade for Pavol Demitra. Basically, he said it was very tough to give up O’Sullivan, who he said really progressed into an NHL-ready player. But he sees the need for proven scorers and veterans at this stage in the Wild’s development, and that was why he pulled the trigger on the deal with L.A.

7:12 - Another Minnesotan is snatched off the board as Apple Valley’s David Fischer is the first Minnesota high school player taken today, going to the Montreal Canadiens.

6:48 - Holy Schnikees! This is the biggest Draft Day coup in Wild history. The Wild sends its pick, along with Patrick O’Sullivan to Los Angeles for Pavol Demitra! I’m speechless! It’s a good thing I’m just a writer.

6:42 - Ty Wishart is taken by San Jose, which traded up with Montreal to nab him. Barring a trade, the Wild is now on the clock once again.

6:36 - OK. I’m back, and it looks like it’s almost time for another Wild pick. Six picks were made while I was gone, including Mikael Frolik to Florida, Jonathan Bernier to Los Angeles, Bryan Little to Atlanta, Jiri Tlusty to Toronto, Michael Grabner to Vancouver and Riku Helenius to Tampa Bay.

Sheppard seems like a great young kid. He was very soft-spoken, yet personable, and he is extremely excited to be going to Minnesota, which drafted a good friend of his a few years back, Jean-Claude Sawyer.

6:18 - It’s time to go chat with our new friend, James Sheppard.

6:05 - Tom Thompson does the honors for this one, and he makes James Sheppard out of Cape Breton of the QMJHL, the ninth overall pick in the draft. He’s described as an "a good skater with a long fluid stride and agility who is strong on his feet" by the Central Scouting Report. He put up 30 goals and 54 assists for 84 points in 66 QMJHL games last year.

6:02 - It’s go time my friends. The Wild have the next pick. I have a strong suspicion that Jiri Tlusty will be the seventh first round pick in Wild history. Let’s find out shall we?

5:59 - All hail the Great One. Wayne Gretzky makes his way to the stage and gets a rousing ovation from the crowd here. He looks embarassed by the response. Is there anyone who doesn’t love Gretz? The crowd finally settles down and he announces the selection of another Minnesotan, Peter Mueller. Those Coyotes love their Minnesotans.

5:55 - And I’m completely wrong. The first mini-surprise pops up as they take Kyle Okposo, the second Minnesota-born player to go already. With just one pick before the Wild’s choice, look for Minnesota to get Mueller, Bryan Little or Jiri Tlusty.

5:53 - I don’t mean to brag, but Aaron Sickman can attest that I’m 6-for-6 right now in calling these picks. I’m calling the New Islanders that they will take Peter Mueller out of Bloomington.

5:47 - It’s Columbus’ turn at number six. Doug MacLean kisses up to the home crowd by congratulating the Vancouver Giants of the WHL on their championship season. He then takes Derrick Brassard, who Tom Thompson is very high on. He is apparently a high-end talent.

5:42 - Here come the Bruins, who will most likely get Patrice Bergeron some help, by taking Kessel, and they do.

5:37 - The Capitals are next, and they bring Alexander Ovechkin to the stage as they make their pick. He gets a rousing ovation from the crowd, before he announces the selection of Super Swede, Nicklas Backstrom.

5:32 - The Hawks do make a WCHA pick, but they opt for North Dakota’s Jonathan Toews, who Tom Thompson compared to Steve Yzerman, which is nothing to sneeze at. Thus far, there haven’t been any surprises in the draft. Look for Kessel and Nicklas Backstrom to be the next two selections.

5:29 - The Chicago Blackhawks are next and this could be interesting if they decide to go with Phil Kessel, who would then join his rumored rival, Jack Skille, who was picked in the first round by the Hawks last year.

5:26 - The rumor was that Pittsburgh may try to trade this pick to Carolina so the Hurricanes can unite the Stall brothers. But the Pens hold onto the pick and they tab Jordan Stall to join the already formidable lineup that will include Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

5:21 - A trade is announced, and it involves a Minnesotan: Jordan Leopold is on his way to Colorado, in exchange for Alex Tanguay. There were some draft picks thrown into the deal as well and we’ll report those in a matter of minutes. Once again, Leopold changes teams, but stays in the Northwest division. He’s on his way to Colorado for Alex Tanguay.

5:17 - The Blues brass makes its way to the stage, and to no one’s surprise, they take Johnson after a long-winded speech. It’s already a great day for hockey in Minnesota. It promises to get better. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now on the clock.

5:14 - The St. Louis Blues are officially on the clock now. History is about to made when they take Johnson, the first Minnesotan ever taken first overall. Point of interest, there is not a countdown clock that lets us in on how much time they have to make their pick. They do have 15 minutes to make a pick.

5:12 - Gary Bettman is now talking, but I have no clue what he is saying. I’ll just say the crowd is reacting loudly, but I won’t get any more specific than that.

5:09 - Vancouver GM Dave Nonis takes the stage to welcome everybody to the arena, and gives the token congratulations to the Carolina Hurricanes.

5:01 - It’s 5:01, and as we all know, nothing ever starts on time. I’m sure the tv stations are going through their introductions at this point, and we’ll be good to go here. At this point, I’m going to go ahead and predict that the Blues will take Erik Johnson of Bloomington, Minnesota. You heard it here first!

4:52 - It’s roll call time as each team is asked to respond to their name being called. The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers are greeted with loud boos.

4:44 - It’s the calm before the storm right now. Pretty much everybody is now where they need to be. The prospects are finding their seats in the stands to the right and left of the arena floor. The management types are finding their seats at their team tables.

4:36 - I minor - and I mean very minor - stir is created by the news that Atlanta’s first-round pick in 1999, Patrik Stefan, was traded to the Dallas Stars for Niko Kapanen and a draft pick. The stir was basically one writer telling another writer of the news, and him saying, "that figures."

4:00 - FYI - The chocolate chip cookies that they put out for the media are divine. If I don’t gain at least eight pounds, consider it the biggest disappointment on draft day.

3:51 - A beaming Dave Fischer, the director of media relations for USA hockey swings by the draft headquarters. It could be a banner day for Fischer’s organization as at least 12 Americans are projected to be taken in the first round of today’s draft.

Thus far, the Wild has been quiet on the trade front, but we’ve got a long way to go and anything can happen as they say.

3:30 PM - The main floor, which holds draft tables for all 30 teams, is beginning to fill up as we are now 90 minutes away from the St. Louis Blues taking Bloomington-native, Erik Johnson. Or are we? Currently, the Argentina vs. Mexico World Cup Soccer game is playing on the Jumbotron, while beat writers and columnists swirl about to try and find out about the latest trade scoops. The scuttlebutt is revolving around the Roberto Luongo/Todd Bertuzzi trade as well as Chris Pronger asking for a trade out of Oil country.

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