The Wild attempted to address their need for a top-line center — at least for the future — on Tuesday night when they selected playmaking center Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s with the ninth-overall pick in the first round of the NHL draft.
The 19-year-old Austrian led the Ontario Hockey League last season with 120 points, scoring 39 goals in 56 games. Rossi, who is 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, also was a plus-69 in Ottawa. Winger Cole Perfetti, who finished second in the OHL with 111 points in 61 games (37 goals) for Saginaw, was selected one pick after Rossi by the Winnipeg Jets.
#mnwild selects center Marco Rossi with the ninth overall selection in the 2020 #NHLDraft. "Marco is a two-way center with incredible vision, skill and compete level," said Judd Brackett, Director of Amateur Scouting.
— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) October 7, 2020
The Wild are extremely thin at the center position and general manager Bill Guerin appeared certain to take the top player available at that position in the opening round of the draft. Eric Staal finished last season as the Wild’s top center but he was traded to Buffalo for forward Marcus Johansson, whom Minnesota projects as a center but is considered a better winger. The Wild also has told longtime captain Mikko Koivu that he will not be brought back.
The Wild’s depth chart at center includes Johansson, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Victor Rask and Nico Sturm.
The question is when Rossi will be ready to contribute? He has spent the offseason working on his conditioning and his game. Here’s a story on Rossi from Luke Fox of Sportsnet.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) October 7, 2020