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A Sitdown With Brent Flahr

Wednesday, 06.9.2010 / 1:44 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | 2010 NHL Entry Draft
By Glen Andresen  - Manager of Social Media
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A Sitdown With Brent Flahr
Minnesota Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr has seen many a draft floor over the years, but on June 25th he might be tapping that pen and gripping his coffee cup just a little tighter than in years past.

After the spring departure of Tommy Thompson, who oversaw every previous draft in Wild history, the proceedings on the floor of Los Angeles’ Nokia Center will be Flahr’s show. For the entire year, Flahr and his scouting staff have traveled the globe in search of potential NHL stars. That research will culminate during a two-day period in the middle of summer. Every pick taken by the Wild, or passed over by the Wild, will be tied to Flahr for years to come.

With just over two weeks left before the draft, Flahr sat down with to preview the team’s draft philosophy, and how this draft looks. You’ve worked a lot of drafts, but this will be the first year where you’ll be the guy. Is there a different feeling for you going in?

Brent Flahr: In my last few years in Ottawa, I had a lot to say and I worked with a lot of people there. But it’s a team effort. It always is. Our scouts work hard all year, and they’ve seen a lot of these guys. I can form my own opinions, but these guys know them the best.

We come to a group opinion after working hard on a list, and then we target a few guys. We work off a list when we get to the Draft, and we’ll go from there. When it comes time for the Wild to make a pick, will it be your job to sell to General Manager Chuck Fletcher, or are the two of you on the same page?

BF: We’re on the same page. Chuck’s sat in on the amateur scout meetings. He’s constantly reading reports, as I do. He’ll look over the list and he’ll question things. But our list is pretty much finalized. We’ll have a couple minor tweaks to it after a few last interviews, but other than that, I think we’re in good shape going forward. When you talk about interviews, how much will those affect your view of a player after watching him play throughout the season. Can they sway you significantly one way or another?

BF: Obviously good players are good players. Where the interviews are useful is for guys that you have red flags with, whether it’s a character issue, or size or whatever the question mark may be. Those interviews can just solidify our opinion for us…good or bad. Is the philosophy for this draft to take the best player available early, or are you looking at needs right now?

BF: It depends on where we’re picking. We’re picking ninth this year, so we’re at the mercy of the teams ahead of us. We will pick the best player, so it’s just a matter of what falls to us. If it’s equal, maybe we then take a look at position in our decision. But we have our list, and we’ll go right off our list. Chuck has shown all year that he’s willing to make deals, including at last year’s draft. Does that make the job for someone like you tougher, and do you expect it to happen this year?

BF: Yeah, on Draft Day we’re always pretty active, and you have to be active. If there’s a player you really want a couple spots ahead, you’ve got to justify giving up a pick to do so. Or if you think you can drop a couple spots and add a pick, you have to be ready.

It’s called “managing the draft.” You’ve just got to work as you go. But obviously you’re working off your list. You have a feel for the draft and what other teams tendencies are and what you’ve heard. That’s just some of the groundwork that our guys do. We can hope that Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin fall to number nine, but at this point it doesn’t seem too likely. Once those two are gone, are there players you are sure will be gone before the ninth pick, or is it a crapshoot once we get to number three?

BF: I think there are a couple guys that I have an idea will go right after those two. But it’s pretty wide open, depending on some teams needs and tendencies. But we have an idea of a small grouping of players that could fall to us at nine, and we’ll go from there.

The group is similar, but the difference is where certain teams have them rated. Is there a specific player you’re hoping for, or a handful of guys you’ll be happy with?

BF: We have a small handful of guys that we’d be happy with. There’s one or two we have rated ahead for whatever reason, but if we get one of those guys in that group, we’ll be pretty happy. Without naming names, are there any players that could step onto an NHL roster in October of 2010 other than the “Big Two?”

BF: Yeah, I think there are a couple guys that have a chance. There are always surprises. Last year, a second rounder (Ryan O’Reilly) stepped in and played in Colorado, and played well.

There are exceptions and there are a couple guys that could be ready this year. But a lot of it is “are they physically ready? Are they mentally ready? And is your organization willing to play them?”

If a kid comes to camp to make your team and he’s not going to play significant minutes, it’s better for him to go somewhere else to play and develop properly. That’s just our philosophy, but we don’t put any limits on a kid making our team. If he’s ready to make it and he’s a quality player, we’ll allow him. But at the same time, he has to be developing, playing regularly and competing at the NHL level. There are a lot of defensemen projected to go early in the draft, but it seems as though very few blueliners step in and make impacts at a young age with obvious exceptions like Drew Doughty and Tyler Myers. Is defense the toughest position to succeed at early?

BF: I think goalie probably takes the longest. For defense, some guys are physically ready, but just not mentally ready or mature enough to handle what comes with playing in the NHL. That’s not necessarily on the ice, but sometimes off.

In the defensive position, mistakes are exposed. Sometimes a forward can make a mistake, but usually when a defenseman makes a mistake, it results in a scoring chance against. It’s a tough position. Some kids are able to handle it, but it’s hard to rush a defenseman, that’s for sure. How do you rate the depth of this draft overall?

BF: I think it’s good at the top end, obviously with Hall and Seguin. There’s a good grouping of quality players after that. And then I think there’s some depth actually. I think you can see from 10 to 40 vary drastically from team to team. That will make it interesting and hopefully it’s good for a team like us with two second round picks. We should get a couple guys we’re very happy with there too. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of talk about European players as in years past. Is this a down year for that crop?

BF: There are some players there. There’s no Ovechkin, but there’s some good guys out there. Obviously (Finnish center Mikael) Granlund is rated highly by Central Scouting and what not. There are also a few Swedes that played very well and have a chance at going in the top couple rounds, and there’s a couple Finns as well. There are also three or four quality Russian players as well. They could go pretty high depending on the team.

So there are some players and we’re well aware of them. Some of them came over and played in North America, which helped make the scouting easier. As far as Russian players go, are you seeing the KHL have any bearing on whether or not you might take a player from Russia?

BF: It depends on the player. You just have to be confident and do your research and make sure that playing in the NHL is what they want to do. Finally, this wouldn’t be if we didn’t ask about the Minnesotans in this draft. It looks like five could potentially be snapped up in the first round. How do you rate the talent of Minnesotans available?

BF: I think there’s a good grouping of Minnesota kids this year. Everybody’s seen them. They’ve been well exposed and we’ve obviously met them. We’ve brought many of them in here for meetings.

We have the benefit of seeing these kids a lot, knowing them and their coaches. A lot of our scouts live in the area, so we’ve seen them as much or more than any team.

All of these kids have the talent to get to the next level. It’s just the learning curve that they have to go through.
Minnesota Wild 2010 Draft Board
Position / PLAYER Height
/ Weight
1/9 5' 10" - 180 lbs.
2/39 6' 3" - 185 lbs.
2/56 LW - Johan Larsson 5' 10" - 200 Lbs.
2/59 5' 11" - 174 lbs.
5/129 6' 1" - 210 lbs.
6/159 6' 2" - 202 lbs.
7/189 5' 11" - 162 lbs.

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