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Wild Caps Eventful Draft With Four Picks

Two Minnesotans are among the Wild's 2011 Draft Class

Saturday, 06.25.2011 / 2:11 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | 2011 NHL Entry Draft
By Glen Andresen  - Manager of Social Media
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Wild Caps Eventful Draft With Four Picks

For the Minnesota folks who took in the National Hockey League's Entry Draft this weekend, you should know, it's not always like this.

It's not often that a host team repeatedly pulls off moves that rouse the crowd and do it in such a dramatic fashion.

After a blockbuster trade on Friday night that sent Brent Burns to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick used to take Zack Phillips, the Wild pulled off another deal on Saturday morning.

Without a second round pick at the start of the day, the Wild jumped at the chance to move into the second round by sending a third and fourth round pick to Vancouver for the 60th overall pick. With it, the State of Hockey added a native son as Mario Lucia became the first Minnesotan picked in the 2011 Draft.

Cheers erupted from the stands as Lucia was engulfed in hugs by his family, including father Don, a two-time national champion as head coach of the Minnesota Gophers.

"He had tears in his eyes," said Mario.

It wasn't just a feel good story. Lucia is a skilled hockey player and was ranked 34th among North American skaters. At 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, Lucia will look to fill his lanky frame while maintaining the ability to bring offense.

"Mario is a skilled winger with good size and skating ability," said Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr. "We're excited about his offensive potential."

Lucia suspected he might end up with the Wild after positive meetings with team personnel leading up to the Draft, but he was still in awe of his new situation.

"You could not have written a better story," he said.

Lucia will play a year of junior hockey in the USHL or the British Columbia Hockey League and then will likely move on to college. He's closing in on a decision between Minnesota, Colorado College and Notre Dame.

The Wild gave up its third and fourth round picks to get Lucia, but jumped right into the Minnesota high school ranks for its next pick in the fifth round. The club nabbed Eden Prairie defenseman Nick Seeler, who wasn't ranked by the Central Scouting Service, but certainly caught the eye of a legendary college coach. After a year of juniors, Seeler will play for Dean Blais at Nebraska-Omaha.

Seeler caught the attention of Flahr and his staff for his on-ice play, but also for the fact that he's undergone a massive growth spurt since starting high school hockey. In the past year, Flahr estimates he's grown two inches to get to his current height of 6-foot-1.

"He's a competitive kid," said Flahr. "He can skate and move the puck."

Seeler, who says he likes to play with an edge, is also a winner. He captured two state titles with the Eagles. This past season, Eden Prairie capped off a stellar season with a thrilling overtime victory over Duluth East. Seeler assisted on the goal that sent the game to overtime and that came after he tallied two goals and three assists in the two contests leading up to the title game.

In the sixth round, the Wild kept plucking high school kids, but this time went with an unconventional selection of a Connecticut high school goalie, Stephen Michalek. The Harvard-bound keeper was ranked fifth among North American goalies despite playing for a high school team that won just three games out of 25.

He still managed an impressive .918 save percentage and produced a stellar outing at the 2010 U-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament last August, helping the U.S. win a silver medal.

Said Flahr, who has taken a goalie in the sixth round in each of the past two Drafts,"I think with our goalie depth right now with Hackett, Kuemper and Endras down in the minors for a couple years, this kid can go to college for three or four years and develop there."

The Wild capped off an eventful Draft weekend by taking Ottawa 67's center Tyler Graovac. At 6-foot-3, Graovac possesses unique size for a center and he has some offense, putting up 21 points in 66 games.
Minnesota Wild 2011 Draft Board
Position / PLAYER Height
/ Weight
1/10 6-1 / 169
1/28 C / zack phillips 6-0 / 175
traded to boston in exchange
for chuck kobasew
2/60 LW / Mario lucia 6-2 / 183
3/71 Traded to vancouver in exchange for no. 60 (mario lucia)
4/101 Traded to vancouver in exchange for no. 60 (mario lucia)
D / Nick Seeler
6-2 / 185
g / stephen michalek
6-2 / 183
C / tyler Graovac
6-3 / 179

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