Saturday, June 25, 2011

NHL Draft, day 1: End of the Burns era

No one ever said the NHL draft was going to be without intrigue. No one but those involved, knew it would be THAT much intrigue, all at once. Especially for the hometown folks.

Almost an hour after the Minnesota Wild chose Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin, a 17-year-old who has already played in Sweden's Elite League with Farjestad, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher dropped an absolute bombshell, by trading defenseman (and free-agent-to-be) Brent Burns and next season's second-round pick to San Jose for winger Devin Setoguchi, San Jose's No. 1 pick from last season (Boston U forward Charlie Coyle), and San Jose's first round pick in this draft, the No. 28 pick, which the Wild then used to take center Zack Phillips from St. John of the QMJHL.

On paper, this looks like a classic 'win-win' scenario, as the Wild did not want to spend the $5-6 million per season to re-sign the popular defenseman, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. The Sharks signed Setoguchi to a new 3-year, $9M deal on Thursday, but claim that signing the former linemate of Joe Thornton had nothing to do with the trade.

Coyle is projected to be a power forward, and will definitely push the likes of Guillaume Latendresse when he arrives in St. Paul, beginning next month at prospects camp. Although Phillips is only 18, should he develop as expected he, too, will push other, more veteran players in 2-3 seasons' time.

But the key is the 24-year-old Setoguchi, whom Wild fans will get a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that he loves to shoot the puck, something sorely lacking with the Wild's maddingly pass-happy offense. Being the linemate of either Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard or Latendresse and Martin Havlat won't hurt, either, as the Wild have declared themselves as definitely in a youth movement and talent hunt, all at the same time.

Most observers view this trade as the biggest Wild deal ever. Only time will tell if the deal indeed was the biggest trade in the franchise's 11-season history, but the team isn't done yet. There's still another day to go. And for Brent Burns?

Better find out what the Santa Clara County regulations are about that petting zoo at home...

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