Wild trade up for Cuma

The Minnesota Wild put a priority on adding depth on the blue line as they entered the first round of Friday night's NHL draft, then watched defensemen fly off the board in front of them.

The Minnesota Wild put a priority on adding depth on the blue line as they entered the first round of Friday night's NHL draft, then watched defensemen fly off the board in front of them.

One by one, some of the top rated defensemen in the league kept getting plucked away by teams just as eager as the Wild to bolster that end of the ice, including Anaheim, which selected Minnetonka's Jake Gardiner at No. 17.

When the 10th defensemen went in the first 20 selections, Wild general manager Doug Risebrough had seen enough.

He gave New Jersey the Wild's third-round pick in 2009 to swap spots, then took Tyler Cuma from Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League with the 23rd overall selection.

"When you're picking 24th, there can be a difference of opinion on who everyone would like at that spot," Risebrough said in a telephone interview from draft headquarters in Ottawa. "This was a guy everyone liked. So I felt it was worth the price to move up."


It was a wild first round Friday night, with much of the action centered around the blue line. The Wild's deal with the Devils was the 11th trade of the night, including a deal earlier in which Phoenix acquired veteran forward Olli Jokinen from Florida in exchange for rising star and former Minnesota Gopher Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton and a second-round pick.

"That was predictable," Risebrough said of the run on defensemen in the draft. "It was that type of a draft a strong draft [for defense]. As it got down to our pick, the defense was starting to get thinner. If you're trying to move up and take somebody that you like, we probably were not going to get a defenseman at 24."

Adding a player like Jokinen would have provided immediate help on defense for a team that is nursing Kurtis Foster back to health after a gruesome broken leg. But Phoenix provided a strong package, and Minnesota was content to take a young player and develop him.

Cuma is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound native of Toronto who likes to increase the pressure in the opponent's zone. Like Brent Burns, Cuma is a converted forward and he had four goals and 28 assists in 59 games for the 67s.

Unlike players like Burns and Nick Schultz, who both sped through the system to play with the Wild, Risebrough said Cuma will need some seasoning before he is ready to play in the NHL.

"He's going to need some time. He's got a competitiveness to him. He's got a real drive to play," Risebrough said. "But he'll need some time to get acclimated to the NHL game."

The Wild worked hard Friday trying to land Jokinen.

According to two sources, the Wild offered 5-foot-10 Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 24, the slick, playmaking right winger who has scored 179 points the past three seasons.


However, while Panthers scouts like Bouchard's ability and future, the Panthers' management wasn't interested for the same reason Minnesota offered him, Florida sources said.

Bouchard is a restricted free agent and one year from potentially getting a huge payday as an unrestricted free agent. The Panthers have the same dilemma with restricted free agent Jay Bouwmeester and didn't want to add another predicament.

According to multiple sources, trade talks between the Wild and Panthers for Jokinen began last summer and came close to actually occurring at February's trade deadline.

Earlier this week, the Wild offered 2005 first-round pick Benoit Pouliot, but the Panthers' scouting staff didn't like Pouliot.

The Panthers instead wanted 2006 first-round pick James Sheppard, a player the Wild weren't willing to give up.

Stamkos selected No. 1

Steven Stamkos was taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

The Lightning made no secret how much they liked the speedy, offensive-minded 18-year-old forward from suburban Toronto and chose him just minutes after they went onto the draft clock.


That, along with a flurry of trades, highlighted the opening night of the draft. After a primetime start Friday, the two-day event will conclude today with rounds 2-7.

Rated the top prospect by NHL Central Scouting, Stamkos is listed at 6 feet and 183 pounds. He produced 197 points (100 goals and 97 assists) in 124 games over two seasons with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League.

Four defensemen were selected following Stamkos, starting with Drew Doughty (of OHL Guelph) taken No. 2 by the Los Angeles Kings. Atlanta followed by selecting Zach Bogosian, who played for OHL Peterborough. St. Louis took Alex Pietrangelo (OHL Niagara) at No. 4 and Toronto moved up two spots in a trade with the New York Islanders to select Luke Schenn, who played for Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.

And then came the trades, 12 involving teams jumping position in the first round, and numerous others involving teams attempting get a jump on the start of the free-agency, which opens July 1.

The most significant deals involved Calgary, which traded center Alex Tanguay to Montreal for the Canadiens' first-round pick (25th), and their second-round choice next year. The Flames then acquired Los Angeles Kings center Mike Cammalleri in a trade involving three teams.

Calgary sent its first-round pick, No. 17, to Los Angeles. The Kings then dealt that pick and the 28th selection to Anaheim for the Ducks' first-rounder, No. 12 overall.

Columbus, with the sixth pick, took a chance and chose top-ranked European prospect Nikita Filatov. NHL teams have shied away from Russians in fear they might not play in North America because of the lack of a transfer agreement.

Filatov, however, has vowed he'll play in the NHL, and even committed to joining the Canadian Junior Hockey League if he doesn't make a big league roster.


The Islanders traded the No. 7 pick to Nashville, allowing the Predators to select Boston University center Colin Wilson. Phoenix took Danish-born forward Mikkel Boedker, who played for Kitchener (OHL) at No. 9.

The most emotional moment occurred when the Vancouver Canucks paid tribute to rookie defenseman Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle crash last month. Then they selected center Cody Hodgson (OHL Brampton) with the No. 10 pick.

With the 11th pick, Chicago took center Kyle Beach (WHL Everett). Buffalo swapped picks with the Kings, and selected 6-foot-7 defenseman Tyler Myers (WHL Kelowna) at No. 12. Los Angeles, at 13, selected defenseman Colten Teubert (WHL Regina), followed by Carolina picking defenseman Zach Boychuk (WHL Lethbridge).

The hometown Senators earned a rousing cheer when it traded up three spots in a deal with Nashville. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson announced the team's selection of fellow Swede, defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Nashville got the Senators' pick at No. 18, when they selected goaltender Chet Pickard (WHL Tri-City), and their third-rounder next year.

Boston drafted Alberta Junior Hockey League center Joe Colborne at No. 16, followed by Calgary selecting Gardiner. At 19, Philadelphia drafted defenseman Luca Sbisa (WHL Lethbridge), followed by the New York Rangers picking defenseman Michael Del Zotto (OHL Oshawa).

Washington selected Swedish center Anton Gustafsson at No. 21, and U.S. Junior defenseman John Carlson at 27. With the 22nd pick, Edmonton selected center Jordan Eberle (WHL Regina).

At No. 23, Minnesota took Cuma, followed by: Calgary picking center Greg Nemisz (OHL Windsor); Buffalo choosing Tyler Ennis (WHL Medicine Hat); and Phoenix swinging a trade with Los Angeles to pick Viktor Tikhonov, grandson of the former Soviet coaching great with the same name.


With the 29th choice, Atlanta selected center Daulton Leveille (Junior B St. Catharines). The Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings closed the first round by picking goalie Thomas McCollum (OHL Guelph).

What To Read Next
Get Local