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MINNESOTA SPORTS BRIEFS: Wild take seven players in NHL Draft

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MINNESOTA SPORTS BRIEFS: Wild take seven players in NHL Draft
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

NEWARK, N.J. - The Minnesota Wild drafted seven players in the NHL Entry Draft yesterday, including four defensemen, two forwards, and a goaltender.

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The first Minnesota pick came in the second round when the team selected defenseman Gustav Oloffson of Sweden with the 46th overall choice. Forward Kurtis Gabriel of Ontario was a third-round choice, while defenseman Dylan Labbe of Quebec was a fourth-rounder. Defenseman Carson Soucy of Alberta was a fifth-round selection. He is committed to play college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth. Grand Rapids native Avery Peterson was the Wild's sixth-round selection. Defenseman Nolan de Jong of British Columbia and goaltender Alexandre Belanger of Quebec were the team's seventh-round picks.

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 The Minnesota Wild traded winger Cal Clutterbuck to the New York Islanders in exchange for winger Nino Niederreiter. New York also received a third-round draft choice in the exchange. Clutterbuck posted ten points in 42 games this past season for Minnesota. The 20-year-old Neiderreiter was the sixth-leading goal scorer in the AHL this past season with 28 tallies, along with 22 assists in 74 games. He helped his native Switzerland to a silver medal in the 2013 World Championships. Minnesota also traded defenseman Justin Falk to the Rangers for a sixth-round pick and the rights to restricted free agent Benn Ferriero. The Wild also re-signed defenseman Steve Kampfer, who skated in 13 NHL last season for Minnesota.

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Yesterday's NHL Entry Draft was littered with players with Minnesota connections. Among those was the top overall pick Nathan MacKinnon, who played prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault and went to Colorado with the top pick. Edina's Connor Hurley went to Buffalo with the 38th overall selection, while Minnetonka's Tommy Vannelli went to the Blues with No. 47. Plymouth's Taylor Cammarata was drafted by the Islanders, Woodbury's Jake Guentzel of Hill-Murray was chosen by Pittsburgh, Minnesota State-Mankato standout Stephon Williams went to the Islanders. Apple Valley native Hudson Fasching was chosen by the Kings, while East Grand Forks native Tucker Poolman went to the Jets, Burnsville's Teemu Kivihalme was a Predators pick, Ham Lake's Michael Brodzinski went to San Jose, while Johnny Brodzinski was a Kings pick. Cambridge native Blake Heinrich of Hill-Murray was chosen by Washington, Grant Besse of Benilde-St. Margaret's was chosen by Anaheim, Avery Peterson of Grand Rapids went to the Wild, and Gage Ausmus of East Grand Forks and Maplewood's Jake Jackson went to the Sharks. 

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The Philadelphia Flyers will host the 2014 NHL Draft. The NHL and franchise made the announcement yesterday at the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, New Jersey. The event will be held over two days on June 27th and 28th. The draft will be held at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Tickets to the annual NHL Players Charity Game at Ridder Arena in August go on sale today. The charity game annually benefits the "Defending the Blue Line" organization, which helps further the game of hockey within military families. The August 3rd game will feature many of the top NHL players, especially those with Minnesota connections. This year's game will showcase Team USA against Team Canada and face off at 1 p.m. on August 3rd. An initial roster for the event will be released. Tickets can be purchased at the "Defending the Blue Line" webpage. There are also several auction items as part of the event, with on-line bidding beginning today.

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Kansas City's Eric Hosmer smacked a ninth-inning solo homer to give the Royals the needed cushion to hold on for a 9-8 win against the Twins at Target Field yesterday. held up as the Royals outslugged the Twins 9-8 at Target Field. Justin Morneau and Clete Thomas both hit two-run homers for the Twins, who have dropped four-of-six. Morneau's homer was his fourth of the season, but his first off of a left-handed pitcher since June of 2012, a span of 236 at-bats. The homer was Morneau's 208th career blast, which moved him past the late, great Kirby Puckett for fifth on the all-time Twins' home run list. Jared Burton fell to 1-5 with the loss. The Twins are now 36-42 on the season.

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The MInnesota Twins open up a four-game series against the New York Yankees tonight at Target Field. Scott Diamond will take the mound for Minnesota. He is 5-and-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 starts this season. The Yanks will counter with veteran lefty Andy Pettitte, who is 5-and-6 with a 4.22 ERA. First pitch tonight is 7:10 p.m.

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Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko is reportedly opting out of the final year of his contract. The "Star-Tribune" reports Kirilenko turned down a 10.2-million-dollar option for next season. He signed a two-year, 20-million-dollar deal last summer. The 32-year-old averaged 12.4-points and 5.7-rebounds in his only season with the T'wolves. The Wolves did exercise the option for forward Dante Cunningham, meaning he'll remain with the club in 2013-14. Cunningham averaged 8.7-points per game and 5.1-rebounds per game last year.

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NBA Free Agency has officially kicked off and the rumors are flying. Unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard has already met with the Houston Rockets and is expected to meet with other teams including the Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks and Warriors before making a decision on where he will sign. ESPN reports the other big name free agent, Chris Paul, will re-up with the Clippers. CBS Sports is reporting the Knicks, Bulls, Spurs, Nuggets and Suns are interested in Monta (MON-tay) Ellis, a former Timberwolves player. Another former Timberwolves star is being pursued by Charlotte, as it is chasing big man Al Jefferson. Players can't officially sign until July 10th.

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The Minnesota Lynx are headed to Los Angeles where they will battle the Sparks tomorrow night at Staples Center. The Lynx crushed LA 88-64 on Friday at the Target Center. Minnesota leads the Western Conference at 7-2. LA sits at 5-4. 

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The Atlantic Coast Conference will be home to 15 members beginning today, July 1st. Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame will officially join the conference. All three schools are leaving the Big East except for Fighting Irish football, which will remain independent but play a smaller ACC schedule. Notre Dame has spent the last 18 years in the Big East, compiling 126 conference championships.

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Matt Kenseth of Cambridge, Wisconsin claimed his Sprint Cup Series-leading fourth win of the season in Sunday's rain-delayed Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Kenseth held off late challenges from Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer, who finished second and third respectively. The race was scheduled for Saturday, but postponed due to rain. Jimmie Johnson increased his points lead to 38 over Carl Edwards.

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Brazil controlled play throughout on its way to a dominating 3-0 victory over Spain to win the Confederations Cup Sunday. Fred scored in the second minute of play and Neymar added a tally in the 44th minute. Fred found the back of the net again just after halftime for Brazil, which has won the Confederations Cup three straight times. No Confederations Cup champion has gone on to win the World Cup the following year. 

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