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Todd Richards, The Draft, & More

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Scott Howson held a press conference today to discuss the team's draft strategy for the upcoming weekend, but he kicked it off with an unexpected bang - the official hiring of Todd Richards as an assistant coach for the team. 

Richards, whom Howson had some experience working with while assistant GM of the Oilers while Richards coached the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, was primarily selected by Scott Arniel to join his staff, though Howson did conduct his own final interview with the former Wild head coach after Arniel made his preference known.

Expected to work with the power play, an area where he's had success in both San Jose and Minnesota, Howson pointed out that Richards also brings his experiences as a head coach at the NHL and AHL levels, experience he feels will be an important addition to the coaching staff.

With that news, he moved on to discuss the upcoming draft, and though he didn't tip his hand on any deals, Howson made it clear that his preference is to use this weekend to make immediate improvements to his hockey club, and to take that as a springboard into July 1st. He outlined the team's needs as A) Defense, B) Top 6 Center, C) Goaltending, and though he stressed confidence in Steve Mason, it seems that  he wants to make improvements, internally and externally. 

Another interesting tidbit is his suggestion that adding skill at the top six would allow several players to "slot into" the proper areas - including potentially moving Antoine Vermette to the wing, or even as a third line center. What that means for Samuel Pahlsson, I'm not sure...perhaps in that scenario he's one of the pieces that could potentially move in a trade?

Take a look at the full press conference after the jump!