Lots of people criticize the NHL team they're most familiar with for bad drafting, without putting it into context by comparing to other teams in the league. Once you do this, you see that misses are in fact more common than hits. If a team gets two NHL players out of a draft class, that's considered a good draft.
With the Texas Wildcatters, the ECHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild, in town this weekend to play the Gwinnett Gladiators, draft errors by Minnesota can be seen in a microcosm. If you don't have your own visual of draft errors around the league, you're welcome to this one.
First we have Minnesota's first round pick, 12th overall, in 2004 A.J. Thelen. Minnesota chose not to sign Thelen last summer, taking the compensatory pick for him instead. He was signed by AHL affiliate Houston Aeros, but has played the entire year at the ECHL level. This hardly needs to be said, but first rounders shouldn't be playing in the ECHL. He'll be 22 in ten days, but is not even a top player at this level.
Next we have Matt Kassian, a fighter that the Wild took in the second round, 57th overall, in 2005. Second round! Most fighters go late in the draft, as they should. I don't know what the Wild thought they saw in him to take him so high, as he'd never put up any offensive numbers. Lots of people questioned the pick at the time, and there's no reason to put away that sentiment. He's 6'5 and not the worst skater I've ever seen, but far behind most other second rounders in skill.
I asked Myles Stoesz about Kassian, to find out how good of a fighter he is. Stoesz was complimentary of his fighting abilities, saying he was one of the top guys in the WHL when he was there, putting himself, Aaron Boogaard and Milan Lucic in the mix as well. Aaron Boogaard was also drafted by the Wild, but more reasonably in the 6th round (2004). On Kassian, Stoesz seemed to agree that he was taken high, but said "hey, good for him." Indeed, but bad for Minnesota.
We got to talking about Lucic a bit as a tangent, and Stoesz raised his shoulders to do his Lucic impression. He does have a hunchback (see my YoungStars photos). I have a feeling other fighters have done that imitation to goad him into a fight in the past. Good player though, we agreed. "He came out of nowhere," Stoesz said. A great pick by Boston in the second round in 2006 at 50th overall.