The 18th installment in this series has arrived after looking at how the Minnesota Wild did in their first 17 NHL Entry Drafts. If you missed any of them or want a refresher, you can find those recaps below:
- 2000: Franchise’s Inaugural Draft
- 2001: Minnesota Gets Its Captain
- 2002: Late Round Woes
- 2003: Most Disappointing Draft Yet
- 2004: A Draft With No Standouts
- 2005: Starting the New Era Off with a Whimper
- 2006: More Missed Opportunities
- 2007: Prospect Cupboards Continue Being Empty
- 2008: Another First-Round Bust
- 2009: O.K. Draft to Finish the Decade
- 2010: Best Draft in a Long Time
- 2011: Wild Draft an All-Time Great Defenseman
- 2012: Minnesota Adds Another Key Defender
- 2013: Another Draft with Minimal Standouts
- 2014: Wild Continue Average Drafting
- 2015: Minnesota Strikes Gold
- 2016: An Underwhelming Draft Haul
Unfortunately, the 2016-17 NHL season didn’t go much better for the Wild than the previous campaign. Although the team set a franchise record with 106 points in the regular season, Minnesota was promptly eliminated in five games by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs. Fans hoped that the 2017 NHL Entry Draft could help the Wild out, however, they didn’t have their own first-round pick after sending it to the Arizona Coyotes in a deal centered around Martin Hanzal.
Still, the organization wound up making six selections by the end of the weekend. But how many of them panned out?
Middle Rounds (3rd — 4th)
Round 3, 85th Overall – Ivan Lodnia, Right Wing (Erie Otters, OHL)
The Wild didn’t make their first pick of the draft until the third round when they selected Erie Otters right wing Ivan Lodnia. The Los Angeles, CA native demonstrated great scoring and playmaking ability in his first two Ontario Hockey League (OHL) seasons, notching 40 goals and 55 assists across 128 games. Unfortunately, he seemed to disappear when the postseason arrived, proven by him having just two goals and four assists across 35 playoff contests.
Partway through the 2017-18 OHL season, the Wild signed Lodnia to his three-year entry-level contract. Following that, he went on to have another solid performance with the Otters, notching a career-high 59 points in 62 games. Minnesota awarded him for his efforts by calling him up to the American Hockey League (AHL) at the conclusion of the OHL campaign. The trial didn’t end up going as planned, with the former third-round pick failing to record a point in six AHL games.
Much to everyone’s dismay, Lodnia didn’t develop as planned. His slow progress caused the Wild to leave him in the OHL for the following two seasons. He took his talents to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) during the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting North America’s minor leagues. He ended the season with just seven points in 27 games, leaving many to wonder if he could ever reach his potential.
The breaking point came in the 2021-22 season when Lodnia failed to make Iowa’s AHL roster. The Wild decided that it was best for him to report to the ECHL to begin the season – the disgruntled winger disagreed. Instead, he failed to report to the team, resulting in the Wild suspending him in October of 2021. He was then placed on unconditional waivers in November before both sides decided to part ways. He signed an AHL contract with the Chicago Wolves just a few days later, where he currently has two points in 18 games.
Round 4, 97th Overall – Mason Shaw, Center (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL)
Some teams don’t have high expectations when it comes to drafting prospects in the fourth round. That wasn’t the case for Mason Shaw, who the Wild selected with the 97th overall pick. The dynamic center had a career year with the Medicine Hat Tigers during the 2016-17 Western Hockey League (WHL) season, amassing 94 points in 71 games. Not only that, but he also had 12 assists in 11 postseason games that season.
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The WHL is one of the more physical junior leagues and considering Shaw accomplished the above as a 5-foot-9 player at the time was seriously impressive. The Wild signed him to his entry-level contract soon after drafting him and expected him to report to Iowa for the 2017-18 AHL season. However, Shaw played just one game that season due to an ACL tear which ended up derailing his entire campaign.
Shaw has continued to deal with injuries ever since his inaugural season. He’s played 164 games over four AHL seasons since 2018, tallying 32 goals and 62 assists over that span. Even though that doesn’t seem overly impressive, he has recorded 33 points of those points in 41 games this season alone. His efforts have earned him three games in the NHL so far, however, he’s failed to record a point over that span.
Nevertheless, Shaw is under contract with the Wild until the end of the 2022-23 NHL season. While injuries have held him back now and then, the potential is there for him to be a contributor for Minnesota one day. If he can’t stay healthy and continue to improve over the course of his contract, he may not have that much more time left with the organization.
Round 4, 116th Overall – Bryce Misley, Center (Oakville Blades, OJHL)
With their second pick of the fourth round, the Wild turned to the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) to draft Bryce Misley from the Oakville Blades. Although he faced less competition compared to his OHL counterparts, Misley tallied a respectable 62 points in 46 games during his draft year.
Misley took the collegiate route to the NHL, opting to enroll at the University of Vermont. He stayed at the school for the full four years, however, the results were lacking. The Calgary, AB native recorded just 22 points in 109 games, which left Wild management wanting more. Still, they inked him to an AHL amateur tryout following the conclusion of the 2020-21 NCAA season. After scoring a goal and two assists in nine games, the Wild decided that was enough to award him with a one-year deal for the 2021-22 season.
Late Rounds (5th — 7th)
Round 5, 147th Overall – Jacob Golden, Defenseman (London Knights, OHL)
With the 147th pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Minnesota selected London Knights blueliner Jacob Golden as its only defenseman of the weekend. The Toronto, ON native showed defensive promise during his OHL career, but lacked any offensive upside, recording just 33 points in his first 164 games split between the Knights and Otters.
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While Golden was impressive during the 2019-20 campaign with 27 points across 48 games in his final OHL season, it wasn’t enough to guarantee a future with the Wild. Instead, he chose to attend McGill University and join their men’s ice hockey team. Considering how he only has two points in eight games over the last two seasons, he likely doesn’t have a future at the NHL level, at least not with the Wild.
Round 6, 178th Overall – Andrei Svetlakov, Center (CSKA Moscow, KHL)
The Wild turned to the KHL during the sixth round of the draft, selecting Andrei Svetlakov out of CSKA Moscow. While he didn’t post any mind-blowing numbers in his draft year, his 16 points in 37 games against grown men had Minnesota thinking that there could be some potential there.
Unfortunately, Svetlakov hasn’t developed as everyone hoped he would. He’s averaged only 0.34 points per game (PPG) in seven KHL seasons. Sure, he was a part of CSKA Moscow’s 2018-19 Gagarin Cup-winning roster, but that hasn’t been enough to impress fans or management. The Wild still own his NHL rights so it’s entirely possible that he could come to North America one day, but that seems unlikely unless something drastically changes. Had he been performing as Kirill Kaprizov when fans were waiting for him to make a jump, this would be a totally different story.
Round 7, 209th Overall – Nick Swaney, Right Wing (Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL)
The Wild have made it a tradition over the years to draft local-born talent. After all, Minnesota is called the “State of Hockey” for a reason. This time, the organization went with Waterloo Black Hawks right wing Nick Swaney, who wowed onlookers with 26 goals and 25 assists in 47 United States Hockey League (USHL) games.
Much like the other local talent the Wild have drafted, Swaney opted to remain in the state to play collegiate hockey. He spent all four years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, notching 101 points in 135 games. His efforts caught the attention of Wild management, resulting in him signing a one-year entry-level contract at the end of the 2020-21 hockey season.
While expectations aren’t usually high for seventh-round prospects, Swaney has surpassed everything his coaches have asked of him by scoring 10 goals and 15 assists over 39 games in the 2021-22 AHL season. Even though he hasn’t been called up just yet, he could be one of the next names on the list if the Wild run into injuries or other issues down the stretch.
Overall Wild Draft Grade: D-
Although the jury is still out on a couple of the prospects, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft was largely underwhelming for the Wild. Shaw and Swaney are likely the only saving graces, which isn’t saying much. In total, their selections from this class have combined for just three NHL games, all played by Shaw. Unless one of the players still under contract makes a serious jump, this could go down as one of the most disappointing draft showings in franchise history.