Some tough decisions ahead during this weekend's NHL Draft

Trade up or trade down?

When looking at draft boards and the number of mock drafts that have been released over the past week, it's starting to look more and more as if the #8 spot is something of a "tweener" pick. The Stars could find themselves in position to get more value with their selection by either moving up a few spots to nab a player they really like, or dropping down a bit and getting something in return. Both choices, along with just staying put, have their advantages and drawbacks.

The overall consensus is that John Tavares, Matt Duchene and Victor Hedman make up the top three picks in the draft. The order of their selection is a big topic of debate, and there is speculation afoot that the Islanders could shake things up a bit and decide not to draft John Tavares with the top pick. Toronto and Brian Burke have not hid the fact that they are willing to move from the #7 to the #3 or #2 slot in order to draft one of the big three. If the Islanders go with Hedman, then Toronto could make a big push to move up to grab one of the remaining two.

After the top three, things get a bit murky but most believe some combination of Evander Kane, Brayden Schenn, Jared Cowen and Magnus Paajarvi-Svenssen could go next. Depending on what happens at the 4-5 spots, the Stars could have the chance to move up just two spots to either grab a top six forward or a future franchise defenseman, all who could be ready for the NHL sooner than later.

Of course, moving up would be costly and the Stars would almost certainly have to lose their second or third rounder. It's debatable on whether that is worth the move then; while Dallas certainly would like to have an impact player ready to play as early as this fall, the organization also has the chance to restock a system that has grown a bit thin. Their second round pick (#38) is a valuable spot, and there will be some great players available there as well. With trading up you run the risk of not only losing needed draft picks in the early rounds, but also moving just a few spots up in order to draft a player that might have been available to you in your original spot anyway.

The Stars would have to be almost completely certain that they player their eye is on would absolutely be gone by the time they picked. It's a risky gamble, but one that could pay off in the end.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Stars could find themselves in a position where it would be more valuable to trade down six to eight spots and still pick the player they want.

If the top six or seven players on the Stars' draft board are gone by the time their pick comes up, it's very likely that the next player(s) they would want would be rated as middle-first round value. Dallas would then trade down into the middle to late teens, pick up a late second or early third rounder and still draft the player they like when it came to their first round selection.

There are a number of players slated to go in middle of the first round that could instantly boost the Stars system, and possibly make the jump to the NHL sooner than later. Jordan Schroeder, Scott Glennie, Ryan Ellis, Zack Kassian and Dmitry Kulikov are all players that look to be available between 12-17. If the Stars see a chance to trade down, add an extra pick and still be able to draft one of these five then that would be one heck of a successful first round.

The trick with this move is to ensure that if you do move down, you don't lose too much value with your pick and end up not being able to draft a player that you wanted to start with. Having the #8 pick gives the Stars the liberty to have first selection of this second tier of players and be able to select whomever they think is the best of the bunch. But if the opportunity arises to not only get one of the top players on their board, while adding a later pick, the team must seriously consider this option.

The beauty of this draft is that between the #5 and #20 spots, the talent level is amost even across the board. A player that could easily be selected in the top ten could fall all the way to the late teens. It all depends on each team's needs and individual draft boards. Expect to see a number of trades in the first round (or at least rumors of trades that almost happened) as team's jockey for position to get the best of a bunch of extremely talented first round players.

The Dallas Stars could be major players in this game, and making the right moves will be key in setting up the new organizational regime with the ingredients for a successful future.

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