It’s been a frantic few months for Judd Brackett as the new director of amateur scouting for the Minnesota Wild. He accepted the job seemingly out of the blue in July, watched the Wild get knocked out of the playoffs in August, then spent most of September retooling the team’s draft board.
All in the middle of a pandemic.
Logistically, preparing for next week’s 2020 NHL Draft under these circumstances would be a tough ask even for a scouting staff with decades of continuity, let alone a group still learning each other’s nuances.
“Yeah, this has been sort of a unique situation.” said Brackett, who previously worked for the Vancouver Canucks, the team that beat the Wild in the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs this summer.
Not only did Brackett come in toward the end of the planning process, he did so wanting to put his own stamp on everything, while simultaneously not wanting to step on on too many toes. There have been a lot of Zoom calls along the way as Brackett has worked to develop a rapport with a scouting department that by and large has prepared with the 2020 NHL Draft without him.
For Brackett, this has been a balance of believing in his own conviction and trusting the people already in place. That has sometimes been easier said than done.
“Listen, coming in, I definitely saw some players in a different light, as did they, and we’re working together now to come together and make it a collaborative effort and share opinions and come to a mutual sort of understanding,” Brackett said. “You’re never going to have 100 percent consensus amongst every single person. That’s what scouts are there for. They are there to have strong opinions and do the work and to share it honestly.”
That’s exactly what the Wild have done, and according to Brackett, the draft board is nearly set in stone with the draft only a week away. There are a myriad of needs for the Wild right now, though general manager Bill Guerin consistently has spoken about wanting more skill up the middle.
It’s on Brackett to pick the right players when the Wild are on the clock. He has proven capable of that with the Canucks, notably hitting on heralded sniper Brock Boeser, rising superstar Elias Pettersson and this year’s Calder Trophy runner-up, Quinn Hughes.
While that is a testament to Brackett’s chops as a talent evaluator, he didn’t want to take all the credit when asked about previous success stories.
“It’s certainly not about me,” he said. “It’s absolutely a group effort. There are players world wide, and we really rely on scouts in every part of their region to do their work.”
That said, Brackett’s track record speaks for itself, and it’s something the Wild are hoping he can continue now that he’s the man in charge of their draft board.
“For the most part we have the framework of what we’ll work off of,” Brackett said. “I think we’re sitting here and feeling good about what we have in place.”
Wild draft picks
The Wild have six picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including the No. 9 overall pick. Here’s a look at their draft picks:
- Round 1 – No. 9 overall
- Round 2 – No 39 overall
- Round 4 – No. 101 overall
- Round 5 – No. 132 overall
- Round 6 – No. 163 overall
- Round 7 – No. 194 overall