Work in Sports
Wild choose Gaborik with first pick
MINNEAPOLIS (CNNSI.com) -- With their first ever pick in the NHL Entry Drat, the Minnesota Wild turned to Slovakian winger Marion Gaborik at No. 3 overall.
Gaborik, 18, played the last two years for Dukla Trencin in Slovakia. In 50 games last season, he scored 25 goals and had 22 assists and 34 penalty minutes.
Doug Risebrough, the Wild's general manager, said he was impressed with Gaborik's international experience. Gaborik played for Slovakia in the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships, leading the team in scoring with four points in seven games during this year's tournament.
But Risebrough said Gaborik might be a year or two away from making his debut at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"It's still a development issue and we know the heartaches of rushing guys too early, so we're not going to do that here," Risebrough said from Calgary, Alberta.
In the second round, the Wild took Nick Schultz, a defenseman who played with Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League last year. Schultz, 17, scored 11 goals and had 33 assists in 72 games with Prince Albert last season, his second with the team.
The Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, native played on the same line at Prince Albert as Scott Hartnell, who was chosen sixth overall by the Nashville Predators.
The Wild earlier traded its third-round selection, the 68th pick overall, along with a fourth-round choice in 2002, to Dallas in exchange for goaltender Manny Fernandez and defenseman Brad Lukowich.
Gaborik said he's looking forward to the chance to start a tradition with the Wild.
"I'm very happy to be in Minnesota because it's a new club, and I'm very happy to be there," he said. "It's a great feeling to be first player who was drafted by Minnesota ever."
Gaborik is a strong, quick skater who is known as a natural scorer. Scouting reports say Gaborik is an effective playmaker who reads plays well, has strong puckhandling skills and does well in one-on-one situations.
"We thought Gaborik was the most skilled player in the draft," Risebrough said. "He is an outstanding skater and has proven to be a prolific scorer in both the Slovakian league and international play."
Risebrough said he considered trading the No. 3-overall pick, but in the end decided choosing Gaborik was the right move.
"We were really comfortable with what we were going to get," Risebrough said. "So we didn't really push it."
Gaborik said he hopes to make his NHL debut in the 2000-01 season, but he knows the road to St. Paul won't be easy.
"It's only first step, you know, this draft," he said. "[The] next step will come next year and after."
Schultz was the 68th-rated prospect by NHL Central Scouting and not rated among the top 20 defenseman according to The Hockey News.
"Schultz is a good offensive-defenseman who can move the puck," said Tom Thompson, the Wild's chief amateur scout. "He possesses a hard shot and the ability to play the point on the power play."
With their first pick of Day Two, the Wild drafted Marc Cavosie, an 18-year-old winger at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he scored 30 points in 33 games last season, his first year with the team.
Cavosie was taken 99th overall in the fourth round. Scouts said he's a good special teams player who likes to check and is aggressive, but needs to get stronger before he's ready to play in the NHL.
In the fifth round, the Wild took right wing Maxim Shushinsky (132nd overall), 25, who played for Avangard Omsk of the Russian League this year.
In the sixth round, Minnesota drafted defenseman Erik Reitz (170th overall), 17, who played this season for Barrie of the OHL.
The Wild had two selections in the seventh round: center Brian Passmore, 20, of Oshawa in the OHL, and left wing Peter Bartos, 26, of Ceska Budjovice in the Czech League.
Minnesota also had two eighth-round picks: defenseman Lubomir Sekeras, 31, of HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech League, and center Eric Johansson, 18, of Tri-City in the WHL.
In a trade with the Dallas Stars on Sunday, the Wild obtained left wing Aaron Gavey, center Pavel Patera, the eighth-round pick they used to draft Johansson, and a fourth-round pick in the 2002 entry draft. In exchange, the Wild returned defenseman Brad Lukowich to Dallas and gave the Stars a third and a ninth-round pick in the 2001 entry draft.