Counting the Stars - Numbers 40 & 39

Every day this summer Defending Big D will count down the greatest players in franchise history (both Dallas and Minnesota), based on the sweater number they wore. Keep coming back for a look at who's the best in Stars history. For a recap on the list so far, click here.

As you may have noticed we've missed posting on a few different days so we're going to use the next couple of days to catch up with some numbers that don't exactly have strong players behind them.

#40 - Dean Kolstad

You know the pickings are slim on a number when you go with the guy who played 30 games and picked up six total points over two separate seasons (25 games in 1988-89 and then 5 games at the start of the 90-91 season) with the North Stars. But, it was either Kolstad or Johan Holmqvist or Patrick Cote (Johan only played in two games for the Stars once he was traded over as part of the Richards deal, Cote spent three seasons with the Stars organization but only managed to play in eight NHL games over that time with no points at all)

Kolstad - a 6'6" 220 pound defenseman - was drafted in the 2nd round, 33rd overall by the North Stars in the 1986 entry draft after putting up decent offensive numbers with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. The North Stars were hoping Dean was a package of size and strength on the blue line, but also a threat offensively that could move the puck in the pros as well as he did in junior. Unfortunately Kolstad and the North Stars both learned that while a kid may display size and strength and good puck handling skills in the junior ranks, it doesn't always translate into success at the NHL level where the game is even faster and much more tougher.

Dean was a career minor leaguer but did have some very productive seasons in the IHL. First with the Kalamazoo Wings and then with the Kansas City Blades once the San Jose Sharks picked him up in the 1991 dispersal draft. His stats on the farm were actually quite adequate for a big defenseman like himself.

He finished his hockey career in Texas playing with the Central Texas Stampede of the WPHL, playing a season and a half with them from 1997 to 98.

After the jump, see who we picked at #39...

#39 - Niko Kapanen

It's tempting to consider this who the bigger disappointment at #39 was rather than who the greatest Star was at the number, but when we looked over the numbers it's easy to see that Niko's time with the Stars was at least marginally better than Joel's.

Niko was a 6th round pick (173rd overall) in the 1998 draft. Considered a steal of a pick he made his North American pro debut in 2001 with the Stars AHL affiliate in Utah. In 59 games with the Grizzlies he scored 13 goals and had 41 points. He also got to play his first games with the Stars that season in limited 4th line role.

After that season though Niko was made a full time NHLer.  His rookie year in 01-02 saw him pick up five goals, 29 assists and rack up a plus/minus rating of plus 25 as he played in all 82 Stars games.  He also became the second Dallas Star to play in the NHL YoungStars game in 2003. That spring in the playoffs he was one of the Stars better players with four goals scored and seven points in 12 games played.

Expectations for Niko's career were quickly raised and he was looked at as one of the key building blocks for the Stars future, but Kapanen quickly stumbled under that pressure and suffered through a horrible sophomore jinx that saw him only get one goal and six points in 67 games. The following season was slightly better as he posted career best numbers in goals (14) and points (35) and he saw playing time on special teams both on the power play and penalty kill.

Still his play was spotty at best and agrivatingly inconsistant, thus he was traded away (along with a 7th round pick) in the summer of 2006 to Atlanta for Patrik Stefan and Jaroslav Modry.

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