ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild certainly kept the home fans interested during the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft.
With their own first-round pick at No. 10, the team selected Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin, and after swapping veteran blueliner Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks for forward Devin Setoguchi, top prospect Charlie Coyle and the No. 28 pick, they selected Saint John Sea Dogs center Zack Phillips with that selection.
"I just look at our team right now, and we really need to aggressively add young players," said Chuck Fletcher, the Wild GM. "The last two years have been disappointing. We talked about that in order to compete with the top teams in this League, we have to add more talent. I think today if you look at it, we added the equivalent of four first-round picks. We gave up a very big piece in Brent Burns, but I think our time frame needs to be stretched back a bit. We need to add some young players. We've very quickly assembled some very good young talent."
Brodin, a 6-foot-1, 169-pound blueliner was at the top of that list Friday. He had just 4 assists in 42 regular-season games with Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League, and then added 2 goals in 14 playoff games. He also had 1 assist in four games to help Sweden win the silver medal at the World Under-18 Championship. However, the Wild saw more than just statistics. Primarily, the fact that, at 17, he was a regular in one of the top European leagues was extremely impressive.
"Jonas Brodin is an elite-skating defenseman," said Wild Assistant GM Brent Flahr. "He's got really good puck-moving ability, really thinks the game well. He played in Farjestad on a championship team in the Swedish Elite League, played regularly for most of the year, and that's a huge step for a young player. To see his composure and sense, his natural ability to play the game … I was over there watching in the championship series against Adam Larsson and those players, and he really played well. Then he joined the Under-18 team with Sweden partway through the tournament and really helped them out and got to the final game. He's a terrific skater and has terrific mind for the game."
Brodin met with the Wild on Thursday and got a tour of the Xcel Energy Center and the home locker room. He told NHL.com he planned on fulfilling the final year left of his contract with Farjestad, so it'll be at least a year before he has his own spot in that room.
However, Flahr said he wasn't ready to guarantee that locker space to someone else.
"He thinks the game so well, I'm not going to put any limit on that," he said. "We'll talk to his people. He's got to get physically stronger and put on weight, but we asked him and he said he thinks he needs one more year over there and he'll be ready to come over (but) we're not going to put any limits on him."
While Brodin's strength is his skating, Phillips' is his offense. Ranked No. 15 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, the 6-1, 178-pound center finished in the top seven in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in goals (38), assists (57) and points (95).
"He's a very smart, heady player," Flahr said of Phillips. "He's got great hands, always in the right spot. Has a real nose for the net. He's a competitive guy, really stepped up in big games. That's what we're looking for."
Phillips admitted his skating is one place he needs to improve and plans on making that the focus of his off-season training.
"I will seek out the trainers and work hard every day at getting faster," he told NHL.com.
Flahr has no doubts that will happen.
"We look at his head and skill and competitiveness," he said. "He's not a big-frame kid. He's going to get stronger. He's going to have to work on that and he's aware of that. He's got some work to do ahead of him. We're convinced he's willing to do that. We look forward to seeing him. And we're confident his skating can get better."
Flahr said what really sold him on Phillips was his postseason performance. Phillips suffered a shoulder injury in the QMJHL finals that kept him out for two games but limited him through the rest of the finals and the Memorial Cup.
"He was injured through the playoffs," said Flahr. "He missed part of the finals in the Quebec league, but showed a lot of character in fighting through the injury and playing."
Fletcher said the day's activity was geared toward adding young talent -- Setoguchi is 24, Coyle is 19 -- and making the team better in the long-term.
"I think our path is very clearly defined," said Fletcher. "Not every kid you draft or every kid you trade for is going to be an NHL player, but we think we have a whole bunch of them coming now."