ST. PAUL, Minn. The Minnesota Wild will have the chance to add to their impressive pool of prospects in June's NHL entry draft and they now know they will be doing so from the seventh position in the first round.
The Edmonton Oilers won Tuesday night's draft lottery and hold the top overall pick for the third straight season. Edmonton moved up from the No. 2 spot, meaning Minnesota stayed right where it finished the regular season.
The Wild won four of their last six games of the 2011-12 campaign, finishing 35-36-11 for 81 points, the seventh-fewest points in the league.
Minnesota's No. 7 pick is its highest spot since taking Benoit Pouliot No. 4 overall in the 2005 draft. Pouliot is known as one of the biggest misses of the Wild's previous management team, never living up to being selected fourth, ahead of all-star players such as Carey Price, Devon Setoguchi, Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal.
With the late surge last season, and by not winning the lottery, itlikely means the Wild will miss out on the top-heavy portion of the draft that is considered to be led by four players; Russian forwards Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, Canadian defenseman Ryan Murray and Swedish forward Filip Forsberg.
During the lottery selection show, TSN scout Craig Button revealed an early mock draft that had Minnesota taking Griffin Reinhart, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound defenseman from British Columbia. Reinhart was the 10th-ranked North American skater on the NHL Central Scouting's final 2012 rankings.
After years of failed first-round selections, the Wild have dramatically upgraded the group of prospects in their system the past two years. Minnesota was recently ranked as the seventh-best organization in the NHL in terms of prospects in The Hockey News' 2012 Future Watch.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher believes many of the top prospects could turn pro this offseason and possibly contribute in the NHL next year. The list is led by Mikael Granlund, the Finnish star who was selected No. 9 overall by Minnesota in the 2010 draft and was named the No. 2 overall prospect by The Hockey News. The list also includes defenseman Jonas Brodin (No. 12 by The Hockey News), forward Charlie Coyle (No. 14), goaltender Matt Hackett (No. 35), winger Johan Larsson (No. 38), and winger Brett Bulmer (No. 69). Also mentioned were forwards Zack Phillips, Jason Zucker and Mario Lucia, and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Bulmer and Zucker made their NHL debuts this season.
One winner is selected in the NHL draft lottery and has the ability to move up as many as four spots. With Edmonton finished behind Minnesota in points, the Wild didn't move back in the draft. If a team with more points than Minnesota had won the lottery, the Wild would have dropped back one spot.
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