Tuesday evening marks the beginning of the 2020 NHL Draft. For the Minnesota Wild, it will be the first draft with general manager Bill Guerin and Judd Brackett, who was hired as the Director of Amateur Scouting in July. Brackett, 43, is the most notable figure for the Wild. He will run Minnesota’s draft table as the after spending the past five years in that role with the Vancouver Canucks.
Brackett spent 12 seasons in Vancouver, the first seven as a scout. He was highly regarded for stocking up the Canucks prospect pool, and he is credited with the drafting of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Both Pettersson and Hughes were central figures in Vancouver’s play-in round defeat of the Wild back in August.
Now with Brackett at the helm, questions about his tendencies will be answered. Does he favor a specific type of player? Where does he like to take goalies? Will he take a swing at a high-upside player?
We will soon learn if there are any patterns that carried over from Vancouver. Let’s take a look back at four years of draft picks with the Canucks and see if anything stands out from his time there:
Brackett made 29 picks over four years when leading the Canucks table. Eighteen of those picks were spent on forwards, eight on defensemen and three on goaltenders. They had a top-10 selection in each draft, so Brackett should know how to find value with the Wild’s No. 9 pick this year. Minnesota has not had a pick inside the top-10 since selecting Matt Dumba eighth overall in 2012, and they badly need to infuse some top-end talent into their system.
If you look closer at the players Brackett drafted with Vancouver, there are tendencies that stick out.
Speed and skating ability were of importance to Brackett, especially in the early rounds. All but one skater that the Canucks took in the first three rounds over those four years were given high marks for their skating ability.
Why is this important? In a game that is becoming younger and faster, teams need their prospects to get to the NHL and be great on their feet. The Wild don’t have a lot of speed on their roster currently, so loading up the system with players who can fit this mold will likely create a strength for them down the road.
No early goaltenders
Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov is expected to be a high pick in the first round this year, and could be a fit for the Wild. Brackett had a similar opportunity to draft a goaltender in the first round with the Canucks last year: Spencer Knight was highly touted and available at the time, but with the 10th overall pick, Vancouver passed on the netminder and took Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin.
The highest goaltender selected by Brackett was Michael DiPietro in the third round of the 2017 draft, and the other two goalies he took were drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.
Former Wild general manager Paul Fenton had an eye-opening quote following the 2019 draft where he revealed that he prefers tall players. Brackett has a similar preference: 18 of his 29 draft picks were 6’0″ or taller. Later in the draft, however, he has taken players who are smaller — including the 5’6″ Petrus Palmu in 2017.
High Skilled Picks
In an increasingly more skilled NHL, Brackett did not waste picks on players who profiled as an enforcer. Only one player could come close to that title, Matt Brassard in 2017, but even he’s not a pure enforcer. With every other pick Brackett took a player that had quality skill, and a major of them were offensively-focused. This could easily follow the trend of Fenton’s two drafts in Minnesota, where there was an emphasis on skill players with high ceilings.
No one can predict what will happen over the course of the draft, but it is likely that the draft tendencies of Brackett will manifest for Guerin and the Wild. If he can draft like he did in Vancouver, then the Wild will be in good hands.