With the 2014 NHL Entry Draft looming at the end of the week, Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr addressed the media to discuss what this year’s event has in store.
Fletcher on picking No. 18:
Needs change so much from year to year. We’ve drafted a lot of defensemen the last few years. Ideally, if we could add a skilled forward, that’s what we’d like to do. Picking at 18, it’s hard to predict what will be there. Certainly there’s a couple defensemen that if they were there at 18 would change our opinion. Realistically I don’t anticipate us drafting a goaltender at 18; that’s not to say we wouldn’t move back to look at certain options that may present themselves. Where we’re picking at 18, we think there’ll be some pretty talented forwards that we could consider, hopefully a defenseman or two that may fall to us.
Fletcher on Draft week moves:
It seems to be a typical year where the week prior to Draft week there’s a lot of tire kicking, teams assessing what may be available from other teams. Often times you’re looking to move a contract you’re not particularly fond of and you’re looking to see what appetite there may be around the League. I find there’s a lot of dialogue going into the Draft week, trying to set up possibilities during the Draft week itself. I think you’ll see a lot of movement this year. It’s not a particularly strong free agent class so I think teams will look to potentially fill their needs via the trade route. There are a lot of teams looking for specific things right now so it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a lot of movement that doesn’t involve draft picks. Of course you always have the movement that does involve draft picks. I expect it to be a very busy week here leading right up until July 1.
Fletcher on making calls:
I would say I’m receiving more calls than dialing right now. We’re happy with our group. We certainly would like to add; we certainly have holes we need to address. But if you look at our team, we either have players that are right in their prime that are key contributors on our team or young players that are just starting their career that we’re really not that excited about moving. We don’t have a lot of players in that 25-29 year old age class that seem to be the prime trade candidates in a lot of cases. That’s not to say we won’t make a trade; we’re looking at options in free agency. There’s a lot of UFA’s that may be attracted to us as we get into the shopping period and I think we’re pretty interested in keeping our no. 1 pick. I don’t know that we’re going to be a team that makes a lot of moves here but you never know.
Flahr on this year’s draft class:
It’s a better Draft than we initially thought. Obviously at the top end there’s a number of quality players. There’s no franchise Crosby’s or anything like that, but there’s a number of quality players. As the season went on, a number of players stepped up, off the map a bit, which gives the Draft some depth. Overall it’s a good Draft, there’s some depth, but there’s no consensus number one.
Flahr on Minnesotans available:
This year there’s no (Nick) Bjugstad’s as far as the high end of the Draft. There’s probably one or two that will challenge the first round, if not for sure. Obviously the U.S. program has a number of them, the top tier guys probably. Then there’s some high school kids, USHL kids that are from the area that are probably going to go a little bit later in the Draft.
Flahr on this year’s goaltenders:
Teams typically don’t draft a goaltender in the first round just because of the time it takes them to develop a goalie. If you look in the year’s past, unless there’s an elite goalie at the top of the Draft — Carey Price for example or goalies like that — typically there’s goalies going in the third or fourth round that end up being better. Goalie is one of those positions where there’s so many variables involved. Obviously you look at a guy’s talent level, but a lot of it’s mental, maturity and how they can handle pressure in situations. We’re not totally opposed to it but at the same time it would have to be the right fit.