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The Seven Wild Picks

Saturday, 06.24.2006 / 11:43 PM / News
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The Seven Wild Picks
 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 James Sheppard  C Cape Breton   QMJHL 6-1   204  Left  Halifax, Nova Scotia 66 GP, 30 G, 54 A, 84 Pts., 78 PIM 

Taken in the first round, ninth overall

The selection of Sheppard was soon overshadowed by the deal for Pavol Demitra, but very few players overshadowed him in the draft. The Wild could use a power forward in the system that can bury the puck, but can also set them up. Sheppard models himself after Joe Thornton, and we can see nothing wrong with having a player like that.

Thompson: “His stock went up every week that I watched the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s a big, strong two-way guy. He’s got good hands. He’s strong. He’s aggressive, but he’s a disciplined aggressive. He was one of the captains on Canada’s World Junior team that won the gold medal. In the big games, they put him head-to-head against (Jiri) Tlusty, and he did the job that way. He can check. He’s a good player. We picked him at nine, we had him ranked seventh.”

Central Scouting Report: Is a good skater with a long fluid stride and agility who is strong on his feet and attains good speed when underway...is strong along the boards and in the corners and has very good hands and playmaking abilities and can also score ... protects the puck well and has very good on ice vision with a combination of size, hockey sense and puck skills that make him hard to defend against ... has a good wrist and slap shot which he releases quickly
on the go ... logs a lot of ice time and is effective on the power-play and penalty kill ... is a steady competitor who is not affected by physical play and works hard in his own end where he is well positioned for transition of play ... will take a check to make a play and can spin off a check to make a pass ... competes hard for loose pucks and wins most of his battles along the boards ... Cape Breton’s first round selection in the 2004 QMJHL draft ... selected to play in 2006 Top
Prospects Game in Ottawa ... selected to 2005-06 QMJHL All-Star Team for the Canada-Russia Challenge ... member of Team Canada at the 2005 Under 18 Junior World Cup ... member of Team Atlantic at the 2004 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

Personal Profile: Nicknames are Shep, Jimmy and Bigfoot, because of his friends and his teammates ... hometown is Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia ... favorite NHL team is Vancouver ... favorite player is Philadelphia’s Peter Forsberg ... wears number 15 because it is the size of his feet ... thanks his grandmother for having the greatest influence on his career because he is the “only grandson and she wants me to do what I love, and when I succeed she’s very proud” ... patterns his game after San Jose’s Joe Thornton because he is big, smart and has good vision of the game ... outside of sports, most admires his father because “he’s wise and he’s a great father and also a great person” ... most memorable game played was the Under-18 tournament in August 2005 in the gold medal game “because of wearing the Team Canada jersey and the gold medal” ... most memorable hockey game watched was the 2006 World Junior Championship Final because of “the total domination, it gave me more urge to play next year” ... favorites are: Family Guy (TV show), Billy Madison (movie), Will Ferrell (actor) and the Goo Goo Dolls (band) ... if he could have dinner with any three people they would be: Lance Armstrong - “incredible story and hard worker,” Steve Yzerman - “an awesome player, leader and has lots of character/heart,” and Don Cherry - “always has something interesting to say, always wanted to hear his voice in person, besides TV.”

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 Ondrej Fiala  C Everett   WHL 6-1   183  Left Stenberk, Czech Republic 51 GP, 21 G, 14 A, 35 Pts., 26 PIM 

Taken in the second round, 40th overall

Fiala can flat out fly, and its likely the only reason he slipped out of the first round was because of some injury problems last season, the most serious of which was a sprained knee due to a knee-on-knee hit. He also suffered a concussion, but he showed his blinding speed at the CHL Prospects Skills Competition when he won Fastest Skater, edging out James Sheppard.

Thompson: “The only surprise of the day to us, was Fiala. To be honest with you, we took a forward in the first round, and we don’t have the second pick because of the trade. There were some pretty good defensemen there. I had to make the executive decision that we were going to take Fiala because we had him ranked so high and we couldn’t pass him up. He was a thin guy a year ago. He played in Everett for Kevin Constantine on the same line as Peter Mueller. I thought when I saw him that he was going to be a checker – a guy that hounded the puck and was miserable to play against. I thought he was really good in the playoffs, and I’m excited to get him. I think he’s just scratching the surface. He’s got good size, he can really skate and he’s got decent hands.”

Central Scouting Report: Is a very good, balanced skater who is difficult to knock off his feet and uses good body positioning to protect the puck at all times ... has good acceleration ... turns well in all directions and with deceptive speed can break away from traffic...pays attention to defense with tight zone coverage and can cover down low in his own zone ... a very good two-way player who is highly skilled with the puck and can pass accurately on both the forehand and backhand ... can be an offensive player scoring consistently in the second half of season ... plays all specialty teams ... has a good understanding of the game with great hockey sense and creativity ... competes well all over the ice and has very good puck possession ... uses good body positioning in all three zones with a willingness to grind it out ... can be physical as well as a finesse player ... will take a hit to make a play and shows good discipline ... is often first on the puck on the fore-check which creates turnovers and is also good at angling on the fore-check and forcing the puck to the outside ... an early season injury hampered his stats but he showed improvement in each game he played ... could have much better offensive numbers but plays in a very defense oriented system ... Everett’s 1st pick, 30th overall, in the 2005 CHL Import Draft ... a member of Czech Republic’s Under-18 team for the 2005 World Championship ... selected to the 2006 Top Prospects game in Ottawa.

Personal Profile: Nickname is Fajla because “everybody with the name Fiala has this nickname”...favorite NHL team is the Ottawa Senators because “it is nice to watch their games”...wears jersey 67 because he likes it...says his parents have been the greatest influence on his hockey career because they have done everything for him ...has patterned his game after his brother, because he wants to be like him, or better ...outside of sports, most admires his father because “he is smart and successful”...most memorable hockey game played was the Under-18 World Championships between the Czech Republic and Sweden ...most memorable hockey game watched was the first NHL game that he saw, Vancouver vs. Anaheim ...favorites are: The O.C., Friends & Stargate (TV shows), Saw II, Fantastic 4, Youngblood (movie), Vin Diesel (actor) and Blink 182 (musical group)...if he had the chance to invite any three people to dinner they would be Lance Armstrong because of his personality, Peter Forsberg because he is the “best hockey player,” and Miroslav Donutil, a Czech actor.

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 Cal Clutterbuck  RW Oshawa   OHL 5-10   195  Right Welland, Ontario 66 GP, 35 G, 33 A, 68 Pts., 139 PIM 

Taken in the third round, 72nd overall

Described as a "human pinball machine" by the Red Line Report, Clutterback is the smallest Wild draft pick, but most likely the grittiest. Supposedly, he’s not known for a stellar touch around the net, but his 68 points in 66 games seem to offer some hope of offensive production. Still, Thompson, who is very high on Clutterbuck, says his bread will be buttered by playing as a pest.

Thompson: “There are five players in the world that we were looking at as third round picks, because we really expect these guys to be support guys, the Danny Irmen-type guys. I think this guy could be as good as him. He was small, but he got bigger this year. He skates very well and he’s very intense. He’s not going to make the NHL as a finesse guy. He’s going to have to be a disturber-type player, and he’s physical. That’s what we were looking for in the third round."

Central Scouting Report: Is a very good skater, possessing acceleration and speed ... an aggressive playmaking forward who also has a nice finishing touch around the net he can score several ways and in
all situations ... his 18 power-play goals and 3 shorthanded goals attest to his special teams contributions ... sees the ice well and moves the puck with accuracy, with a very good shot that he gets off
quickly and effectively with one-timers ... keeps his feet moving and can get himself into good scoring position easily and uses his anticipation to read the play well ... most noticeable asset is his high energy,
hard working and tenacious effort, which he displays every game, both at home and on the road ... this excellent work ethic was very noticeable on an Oshawa team that struggled throughout the season ... has often been able to motivate teammates with a solid open ice hit ... a relentless forechecker who will force turnovers in the offensive zone ... goes fearlessly to the net and battles hard for loose pucks and rebounds and will not be intimidated ... Toronto’s 1st pick,13th overall in the 2003 OHL priority selection, traded to Oshawa...was a member of Team Ontario for the 2004 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge; a member of Team Canada for the 2004 Under-18 Junior World Cup and a member of Team Canada for the 2005 Under-18 World Championship ... selected to the 2006 CHL Top Prospects Game in Ottawa.

Personal Profile: Nickname is Clutts ...favorite team is the Montreal Canadiens ... favorite player is Colorado’s Joe Sakic ... wears #15 because it was his number in Jr. B ... says that his parents have had
the most influence on his career because “they’re always pushing me to do the things I need to get done” ... has tried to mould his own game, rather than patterning it after someone else ... outside of sports he most admires former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau because “so many people loved him even though he was a politician” ... most memorable hockey game played was the Top
Prospects game because “it was really professional and I played well”... most memorable hockey game watched was Game 7 of the Conference Final between Ottawa and New Jersey because he sat with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien ... favorites include: Family Guy and Friends (TV shows), Shawshank Redemption (movie),Tom Hanks (actor) and Rascall Flatts (musician) ... if he could have dinner with any three people they would be: Cal Ripken Jr. because “he’s the best baseball player to play,” Will Ferrell because “he’s the funniest guy,” and Joe Sakic because “I’ve always wanted to meet him.”

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 Kyle Medvec  D Apple Valley HS  MN high school 6-5   191  Left Westminster, CO 25 GP, 12 G, 19 A, 31 Pts., 36 PIM 

Taken in the fourth round, 102nd overall

The Apple Valley defenseman that was touted as a sure thing was David Fischer, who was taken by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. However, the Wild are intrigued by his partner on the Eagle blueline, the 6-foot-5 Kyle Medvec. The future Vermont Catamount has a lot to learn, but his offensive numbers (31 points) weren’t far behind those of Fischer (38 points).

Thompson: “Is there an element of risk? I guess so. He’s a raw guy. I live in Eagan, but my kids play in the Apple Valley rinks, so I saw them play nine times. This guy is David Fischer’s partner. I’m not knocking David Fischer at all. I like David Fischer. They played the same number of games. Fischer had 38 points, and when we asked him ‘what type of player are you?’ he said, ‘I’m an offensive defenseman.’

We asked Medvec the same question 10 days ago, he said, ‘I’m a defensive defenseman.’ He had 31 points, and halfway through the year, he had five or six points. I don’t think he played competitive hockey until he was 12 years old, so he’s behind the curve. He’s a big guy. He’s going to Sioux City of the USHL next year, and he’ll play for the University of Vermont in 2007. He already knows he’s going into the school of business. He graduated with a 3.85 grade point average. He’s a focused guy from a focused family. I think he’s got some potential. He’s a project.”

Central Scouting Report: Has a long stride and good straightaway speed once underway ... widens his stance and bends his knees more when skating backwards than when going forward ... has a very hard
one-time slap shot from the point and likes to use it ... passes the puck crisply and makes the long breakout pass well ... likes to jump up into the play and will rush the puck when the opening presents itself ... has had a lot of ice time this season, being called upon to take double shifts ... has played in all game situations ... has a good physical presence - although had to tone down his aggressiveness in high school as he was getting to the penalty box too often ... likes to pinch on the offensive blue line and some times does not make the right read on the play ...will sacrifice himself to make a play - blocks shots ... has not grown into his body yet ...needs some work on his turns and pivots ...has a very long reach and needs to use it more effectively ... will attend the University of Vermont in the fall of 2007 after playing in the USHL next season.

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Catches  Hometown  Stats
 Niko Hovinen  G Jokerit Jr.  Finnish Jr. 6-7  200  Left Helsinki, Finland 26 GP, 3.12 GAA, .918 SV% 

Taken in the fifth round, 132nd overall

Rumor has it that when this towering netminder goes down into the butterfly position, there isn’t an inch to shoot at along the ice. Thompson relied on his European scouting staff on this choice, saying that he’s never seen him play before.

Thompson: “I haven’t seen him. It’s hard to explain, but Matti Vaisanen is not going to pump the Finns if he doesn’t like them. Some of the Finns that were ranked high, he didn’t like. He really likes Hovinen, and he explained that for whatever reason, he was not at the last two national championships, and it might be good to get this guy later and we did. He’s seen him a lot, and Paul Charles has seen him a few times as well. I’m relying on the staff on this one.”

Central Scouting Report: A huge goaltender who uses his size well...does not give opponents any extra chances ... surprisingly quick legs ... prefers to play butterfly style ... good concentration ... good competitor but sometimes inconsistent during the 2005-06 season ...both parents are former top athletes - his father was a world class javelin athlete.

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 Julian Walker  W Basel  Swiss 6-2   209  Right Bern, Switzerland 37 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 Pts., 39 PIM 

Taken in the sixth round, 162nd overall

Wild management has been impressed with the progress of 2004 fourth round pick, Julien Sprunger, out of Switzerland. In the sixth round, they picked up one of his linemates from the surprising Swiss World Junior team.

Thompson: “We like him. Sprunger was very comfortable with him on the same line. He’s a physical power. He’s a powerfully built guy. He’s got an NHL body. Switzerland is always a gamble with hockey players, so it’s a risk, but he played very well in the last two World Juniors. That’s where he sold us. He’s got one more year on his contract with Basel, and if he continues to develop, we may bring him over.”

 Player  Pos. Team  League  Ht.  Wt.  Shoots   Hometown  Stats
 Chris Hickey  C Cretin-Derham Hall HS  MN high school 6-1  190  Right St. Paul, MN 28 GP, 31 G, 25 A, 56 Pts., 20 PIM 

Taken in the seventh round, 192nd overall

It’s possible that Hickey was the best athlete the Wild selected in the entire draft. He played in the State championship game in three sports last season: football, hockey and baseball. He was a star running back for the Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders, but he plans to concentrate solely on hockey during his senior  season.

Hickey had a superb state hockey tournament, where he scored five goals in three games. He has committed to play at Wisconsin in 2007-08.

Thompson: "He looks like an athlete. I know he’s going to get pressure to play junior. I think he’ll go back to high school. He really wants to graduate. As long as he keeps improving, it doesn’t really matter to us."


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