Blockbuster Billy Trades Away Luke Kunin and Drafts Two More Projected Studs

Photo: @mnwildpr - Twitter

Welcome to a new and refreshing world for the Minnesota Wild. Yesterday, Bill Guerin and Co waited patiently at pick #9 of the 2020 NHL Draft and it paid off when the drafted Austrian (C) Marco Rossi, who many see as the steal of the first round.

Day 2 brought fireworks before it even got started. Billy wanted an old confidant to come help lead a young team and the Nashville Predators wanted Luke Kunin. So, the Wild traded the latter and brought back (32 yr-old) Nick Bonino and an extra 2nd round pick in return (which they’ve already used wisely — keep reading).

Nick Bonino is a proven commodity around the NHL and someone who Billy Guerin trusts, from their time together in Pittsburgh. Kunin had been a bit of a disappointment but clearly still held some value. If the Wild didn’t see him as a good fit for what they are trying to build, now was the perfect time to make a deal. If you care about “Z-Score”, then this trade will make sense to you.

The Wild used that extra second round pick on another Russian (and center), Marat Khusnutdinov, who currently plays center in the KHL. Jake Jansen has him as his 20th overall prospect in the entire draft. There’s no other league I feel more confident in picking players from, than the KHL. If youngsters can play there, then there’s a good chance they’ll transition to the NHL successfully too, especially on a team that is already laced with others Russians to help them feel comfortable.

Marek has the rest of this season, and then one more, under KHL contract. According to Russo, he’s excited to come over.

Bill Guerin and his newly acquired right-hand draft guru, Judd Bracket, used their 3rd pick of the 2020 draft (#39 overall) on yet another prospect who many are labeling, ‘a steal’. This time, it was defenseman, Ryan O’Rourke, who Michael Russo pins as a future captain-type player with a major mean streak. That’s a side of the game the Minnesota Wild have noticeably lacked for a long time. I love the piece did on O’Rourke being the steal of the draft (see excerpt below).

Now a little perspective. That smile was a noteworthy thing. Up to that point in the interview, his answers were short and straight to the point. But as soon as we started talking about NHL defensemen and who he models himself after, the mood changed. It was something he takes a lot of pride in.

His answer? Duncan Keith.

I then made an observation to O’Rourke after he mentioned Keith. I said to him you really seem to thrive when you play that in your face style. It was at that point his smile got even bigger. It was then that I knew this player was going to be a pain at the next level in the best way possible.

Whoever drafts O’Rourke is going to get a dependable defenseman who will have no trouble causing headaches for the opposition. But then if his team has the puck, there’s a good chance he’s involved in the scoring. He’s a two-way defenseman that in my mind is not getting nearly enough attention.

Mark Scheig –

There’s no guarantee that any of these moves or draft picks will work out but, in reality, there never is. The Minnesota Wild hired Bill Guerin as general manager, who then surrounded himself with hockey people that are well-respected around the NHL, including someone like Judd Bracket.

When you make highly-coveted (Guerin was) front office hires, you have to trust them to make the right decisions and, from all early signs, Billy has been very smart and strategic about his 2020 bold offseason maneuvers.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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