Revisiting Minnesota Wild Drafts – 2012

The 13th installment in this series has arrived after looking at how the Minnesota Wild did in their first 12 drafts. If you missed any of them or want a refresher, you can find those recaps below:

The Wild entered the 2012 NHL Entry Draft after another disappointing season that saw them finish with a 35-36-11 record (81 points), missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year. It was also the third draft in a row that Minnesota entered with a Top 10 selection. But did they finally find a prospect to help them turn things around? Read on and find out.

Early Rounds (1st and 2nd)

Round 1, 7th Overall – Matt Dumba, Defense (Red Deer Rebels, WHL)

After selecting defenseman Jonas Brodin 10th overall in the previous draft, the Wild used the seventh overall pick in 2012 to grab Red Deer Rebels blueliner Matt Dumba. The Regina, Saskatchewan native, was an offensive dynamo in his draft year after being named the 2010-11 Western Hockey League rookie of the year. He led all Red Deer defensemen in the 2011-12 WHL season with 57 points in 69 games. In fact, his point total was just one back of the team lead. Even though he didn’t rack up any individual accolades that year, it was enough to impress the Wild.

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Dumba spent the 2012-13 WHL campaign with the Rebels once again due to the NHL’s lockout at the time. He remained a steady force on the blue line, tallying 42 points in 62 games. His efforts earned him three regular-season games with the Houston Aeros in the American Hockey League and another additional five in the playoffs. Even though he failed to register a point in that stretch, the Wild liked what they saw and gave him a roster spot to kick off the 2013-14 season.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After being one of the most offensively skilled defensemen during his WHL years, Dumba struggled like a lot of blueliners do when they first reach the NHL. He put up a goal and an assist in his first 13 games before the Wild lone him to Team Canada’s World Juniors roster. After Canada placed fourth in the annual tournament, Dumba was sent back to the WHL by Minnesota. However, it was to his new team, the Portland Winterhawks, after the Rebels traded his rights. The move ended up being the right call because something clicked for Dumba. He found his offensive flair once again, notching 42 points across a combined 47 regular season and playoff games.

From there, there was no looking back for Dumba. Aside from playing 20 AHL games in the 2014-15 season, he’s remained on the NHL roster ever since. He’s been one of the most reliable Wild defensemen over the last half-decade when it comes to goal-scoring, notching at least 10 goals four or more times in his career. The 50 points he recorded in the 2017-18 campaign is also the second-best total in franchise history by a defenseman, and his 195 career points rank third all-time among Wild defensemen.

Yes, Dumba can frustrate Wild fans a lot, especially with his inconsistent play. However, there’s no denying that he’s a solid option for the team’s bottom two pairings. Nevertheless, he had been involved in trade rumors this offseason, so only time will tell if he’s still with Minnesota by the time his contract ends after the 2022-23 season.

Round 2, 46th Overall – Raphael Bussieres, Left Wing (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL)

Moving away from drafting defensemen, the Wild went with a forward in Round 2 when they selected Baie-Comeau Drakkar left-winger Raphael Bussieres 46th overall. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing just over 200 pounds, Bussieres offered Minnesota a decent mix of size and goal-scoring. He recorded 50 goals over his final two seasons with the Drakkar, which is something that his NHL club hoped that he could achieve at the next level.

Raphael Bussieres
Raphael Bussieres (Ross Bonander/THW)

Bussieres made his professional debut with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa during the 2013-14 season, but he found that it was more difficult to score at this level. He managed to put up just five goals in 61 games while playing against grown men for the first time. Things didn’t get much better for him during the following year, where he spent a majority of the season in the ECHL. In fact, that’s how most of Bussieres’ tenure with the Wild went. He just couldn’t separate himself from the pack, even in the minors, which ultimately led to the NHL club losing interest in his development.

Bussieres continued his career overseas once his contract with the Wild expired, opting to play for Ljubljana Olimpija HK in Austria for the 2016-17 season. He played for the Nottingham Panthers in England the following year, but his 20 points in 50 games with his new club showed that his best years were behind him. Bussieres finished his career by spending two seasons in the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey, most recently playing for Rivière-du-Loup 3L in 2019-20.

Middle Rounds (3rd — 4th)

Round 3, 68th Overall –John Draeger, Defense (Shattuck St. Mary’s School, Minnesota)

Like the Wild have often done throughout drafts over the years, they decided to use one of their picks to draft a local prospect. This time, they selected defenseman John Draeger out of Shattuck St. Mary’s School. The Edina, Minnesota native, started off his high school hockey career slowly, notching just 21 points in his first 107 games. Suddenly, everything clicked for him in 2011-12, as he recorded an impressive 41 points in 57 games.

Instead of making the jump to the NHL or even the AHL, Draeger took the collegiate approach to his career by attending Michigan State University. Unfortunately, he didn’t find as much success in college as he did in high school. While Draeger played 131 games over four years with the Spartans, the 30 points during that span showed that his impressive offensive performance as a high school senior may have been a one-off. Draeger stopped playing hockey after the 2015-16 NCAA season, joining the long list of Minnesota-born Wild prospects who failed to reach the NHL. Nevertheless, he is now an assistant ice hockey coach for Chaska High, a high school in Chaska, Minnesota.

Round 4, 98th Overall –Adam Gilmour, Center (Noble and Greenough School, Massachusetts)

In an unusual move, Minnesota went back-to-back with high school players when they drafted Noble and Greenough School center Adam Gilmour out of Dedham, Massachusetts. He was one of the best players on his high school team, finishing the 2011-12 season with 56 points in just 26 games (2.15 points per game). He played the following season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the United States Hockey League and didn’t even look out of place, scoring 19 goals and 28 assists in 64 contests.

Gilmour returned to Massachusetts for the 2013-14 NCAA season, playing with future NHLers like Johnny Gaudreau and Thatcher Demko for Boston College. He spent three years at the school, but he never put up more than 27 points in a season. Regardless, Gilmour received an Amateur Tryout Agreement from Iowa, giving him the start to his professional career. Much to his dismay, he couldn’t find any level of success in the Wild organization after seeing just 10 points in 54 games. He spent the following years bouncing around the AHL and ECHL, never getting an NHL opportunity due to a lack of results. Gilmour then retired following the 2018-19 season.

Late Rounds (5th — 7th)

Round 5, 128th Overall – Daniel Gunnarsson, Defense (Lulea HF, SEL)

Swedish defenseman Daniel Gunnarsson was the Wild’s fifth-round pick in 2012 after spending his draft year with Lulea HF in the Swedish Elite League (now Swedish Hockey League). Standing at 6-foot-6, it was clear that he was known more for his physicality rather than any offensive upside. Even though he was a later pick, the Wild were hoping that he could have turned into something special in time. Ultimately, that wasn’t the case.

Gunnarsson never ended up signing his entry-level deal with Minnesota due to him deciding to continue his career in Sweden. At the end of the day, the Wild had a lot of defensemen in their prospect cupboards, and it’s possible that Gunnarsson could have gotten lost in the shuffle had he signed his deal. He’s still had a career to be proud of, which is continuing to this day as he’s set to play for Leksands IF in the 2021-22 SHL season. Still, it would have been nice to see how he could’ve developed had he come over to North America all those years ago.

Round 6, 158th Overall – Christoph Bertschy, Center (Bern SC, Swiss-A)

One of the more intriguing prospects that the Wild left the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with was Swiss center, Christoph Bertschy. The then-18-year-old was coming fresh off a season that saw him record 16 points in 31 games while playing against men for Bern SC in Switzerland. The thing is that Bertschy showed improvement which each passing year, eventually finishing fifth in team scoring with 30 points in 44 games in his final Swiss season. He made his North American debut during the 2015-16 AHL season, playing in 72 games for Iowa. Bertschy’s 24 assists that season were actually a team-high, and he also contributed with 11 goals.

Christoph Bertschy skating with the Iowa Wild. (Courtesy of the Iowa Wild)

Unfortunately, Bertschy’s first AHL season ended up being his best. He had 41 points in 112 games over the next few seasons and even earned the occasional call-up to Minnesota. But he could never impress enough to convince the coaching staff that he deserved more playing time. Bertschy played just nine games for the Wild during his tenure with the franchise, registering only one assist. Minnesota ended up trading him and fellow forward Mario Lucia to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Viktor Loov on Feb. 8, 2018.

Bertschy actually looked rejuvenated when he played for the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton, finishing the 2017-18 season with 18 points in 26 games. That ended up being his final North American campaign, though, as he returned to Switzerland in the following year to join Lausanne HC, with who he still plays for to this day.

Round 7, 188th Overall – Louis Nanne, Left Wing (Edina High School, Minnesota)

With their last pick of the draft, the Wild decided to go with their third high school player of the day. This time it was another local prospect in the form of Edina High School left-winger, Louis Nanne. It was an important pick for the Wild because his grandfather Lou is a legend in the state after having played 635 games for the Minnesota North Stars and also being inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2004.

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After high school, Nanee spent time moving around North America, playing in the British Columbia Hockey League and USHL, before joining the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers in the NCAA. Nothing much came from Nanne’s time with the school, considering how his 44 points in 106 games left a lot to be desired. He then retired from hockey following the 2016-17 collegiate year and joins a long list of late-round Wild draft picks who didn’t pan out.

Overall Wild Draft Grade: C

The Wild’s 2012 draft class went on to play a combined 471 NHL games. However, 462 of those came courtesy of Dumba. Regardless of how good Dumba is on his best days, that doesn’t change the fact that this haul was largely disappointing for the organization. Drafts always have their share of success stories and disappointments, but it seemed like the Wild often ended up with the latter. You can chalk it up to bad luck or poor scouting, but the fact remains that, outside of Dumba, the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was one of the more forgettable ones for Minnesota fans.

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