Wild Take Big Step Forward With Brackett Hire

Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has done it again with a stellar front office hiring. Judd Brackett has the potential to be a key component in making the Wild competitive for the future.

Minnesota Wild Director of Amateur Scouting Judd Brackett

As the director of amateur scouting, Brackett will be the principal party responsible for the selection of future Wild prospects. The Wild are a team that is, in theory at least, rebuilding. They have managed to maneuver themselves into a competitive position without expending assets to do so. The key to the continued success of the franchise with Guerin at the helm will now rest in the hands of Brackett.

Who is Judd Brackett?

The Vancouver Canucks hired Brackett as their director of scouting in 2015. In the subsequent years he had a hand in drafting players who are likely to be franchise cornerstone for years to come. From the 2015 draft through the 2019 draft, the Canucks picked 36 players and retained their first-round pick from each draft.

Of the five first-round picks on his watch, three of them (Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson) have become key players with the Canucks. Olli Juolevi’s development probably hasn’t gone the way Vancouver had hoped, but it’s still too early to write him off. Injuries have really hindered him. Vasily Podkolzin was considered a top-five player available in the 2019 draft, but he made clear his intentions to remain in Russia for a bit. It’s still too early to really judge him, but it’s likely he’ll be making his NHL presence felt within the next 2-3 seasons.

Vasily Podkolzin Canucks Draft
Vasily Podkolzin, Vancouver Canucks, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Beyond the first-round picks, Brackett has seen successes. That’s impressive because it’s not uncommon for later round prospects to take up to five years to make their presence felt. The Canucks’ 2015 fifth-round pick, Adam Gaudette, had 33 points in 59 games for the team this season.

RELATED: Canucks Prospect Rathbone Is Ready for Prime Time

Tyler Madden was part of a major acquisition and is now ranked highly among Los Angeles Kings prospects. William Lockwood, Nils Hoglander, Jett Woo and Jack Rathbone continue to generate high praise as prospects.

How Will This Help the Wild?

The Wild are not a team that has ever really built through the draft. In the entire history of the franchise, only six players drafted by the team or signed as a free agent out of juniors have reached the 500-game mark with the franchise.

Mikko Koivu1,0286th overall, 2001
Nick Schultz74333rd overall, 2000
Jared Spurgeon653156th overall, 2008
Pierre-Marc Bouchard5658th overall, 2002
Jonas Brodin55510th overall, 2011
Marian Gaborik5023rd overall, 2000
“GAMES PLAYED” is the number of games played as a member of the Wild franchise, Data courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com

For better or for worse, general managers who held the job prior to Guerin have traded away their drafted prospects and young players. All teams have to do that, to some degree or another, but the Wild historically have not done well enough in the later rounds of the draft to have a surplus of younger talent coming up through the ranks.

RELATED: Wild’s Prospect Problem & Guerin’s Plan to Fix It

Looking at the move the Vancouver Canucks made to acquire Tyler Toffoli from the LA Kings, the deal was:

Tyler ToffoliTim Schaller, Tyler Madden
2020 2nd-round pick
2022 conditional 4th-round pick
Trade data courtesy of nhltradetracker.com

The Canucks have expressed interest in retaining Toffoli, and for good reason. He averages over 20 goals per season and has broken the 30-goal mark before. The big “get” in this trade for the Kings was prospect Tyler Madden. Madden was a third-round pick for the Canucks. Because Brackett was able to hit on a third-round pick, and get a prospect who developed well, the Canucks were able to acquire a very good player without parting with assets they deemed key to the future of the franchise.

Tyler Madden, Northeastern University
Tyler Madden became the key to acquire Tyler Toffoli. (Courtesy Northeastern University Athletics)

The Madden example shows the kind of move a general manager can make when his director of scouting provides him with prospects whom other NHL teams find desirable. Being able to provide a franchise with a steady stream of talent drafted beyond the confines of the first round is a key to long-term success. Being able to consistently make good choices in the first round and get franchise cornerstone players is an additional key to long-term success. The hiring of Brackett is a huge step towards ensuring that these two keys to success are addressed.