Over the course of the last two seasons the Minnesota Wild moved both their first and second round picks in the 2017 NHL Draft. With a pick in the third round, two picks in the fourth, and a pick in each remaining round, the chance at acquiring significant upside was considered minimal entering the draft. That being said, the Minnesota Wild absolutely seemed to do what they could to maximize the ceilings of almost every pick they made.
Ivan Lodnia, RW: 85th Overall
One of my biggest “eyetest” picks this year, Lodnia is a highly skilled albeit slightly undersized winger who made a big jump this year on a stacked Erie Otters team. He still managed to be a 57 point player in 66 games, and was a fast riser up the draft rankings over the course of the season. He is one of the quicker players who can rush a puck up ice and earn controlled offensive zone entries well. His defensive game needs work, but he reminded me quite a bit of Will Bitten from last year. With Erie graduating names like Strome and DeBrincat next season, Lodnia will be relied upon for his offensive firepower, and should be primed for a big season in the OHL, with a possible spot on the US World Junior Team in December if all goes well.
Minnesota had to wait until the 3rd round to make their first pick, and they took a player with warguably the highest upside left over from the first two rounds, and are really taking a swing here. Lodnia is a skilled high octane offensive winger, and if he can round out his game and continue his obscenely high primary point production rates in bigger ice time loads, he could be a home run for the Wild.
Mason Shaw, C: 97th Overall
Mason Shaw has a pretty nice line on his resume as the player that #2 overall pick Nolan Patrick mentioned as the most difficult player to play against in the WHL this year. He’s another small skilled forward and another high-upside gamble for Minnesota in the 4th round. There are major defensive issues he needs to work on to drive goal scoring more positively, but his offensive ability is undeniable. Size may be a concern for a center like him, but there is tons of potential there. He’s speedy, lethal with the puck, and a highly intelligent playmaker. Intensity on the puck and getting into dirty areas is something many smaller players need to work on, and Shaw is no different. He is a high risk, high reward option, and in the 4th round, the value on Shaw is sky-high. As Medicine Hat sheds some talent in the coming year, Shaw will have a large test on his hands to become the go-to offensive threat as he develops.
Bryce Misley, C: 116th Overall
The OJHL is often overlooked in terms of value for players, and there were a few names I was very interested in throughout the season. Misley was a name that the NHL services had on their radars for his meat-and-potatoes game, but I was admittedly unfamiliar with his game, and what I saw wasn’t particularly special. He’s headed to Vermont, so the Wild can play the long game to watch him develop his defensive game, but his shot, offensive instinct, and good playmaking abilities are positive. He’s a project, but the upside for a safe, bottom six centre is there. He’s adequately sized, and his production was solid for the Oakville Blades. He may have been a reach at 116, but I can see how his game could translate to higher levels over time.
Jacob Golden, D: 147th Overall
The London Knights are a team that often buries young defenders to let them develop over time behind a stacked core of more experienced talent. Golden was one of the prime pure defensive defenders in the draft in limited usage, but with his okay