I'm not going to lie; the second Tim Bernhardt uttered the name "Jack" instead of ones like "Cam" or "Brandon" at last year's (2010) NHL Entry Draft, I set my spaghetti dinner aside, rested my eye brow on my index and middle fingers while bracing my sickened stomach with my left hand. I knew little about Jack Campbell as a player or a person, and knew too well the fact we passed on such sure-fire top-10 players like Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley; especially to division rivals like Anaheim and Phoenix respectively. Joe was also highly scrutinized when he picked Scott Glennie with the 8th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, as many believed that was a bit of a reach for him. Needless to say, "FIRE JOE!" was a common phrase before this year's success.
As we wait patiently to see what Glennie and Campbell can become -- both have struggled after being drafted -- we cannot overlook the other players that Joe, Les & Co. have picked and developed over the past two years. With limited picks in each draft thanks to previous management, the Dallas Stars have done one heck of a job in choosing the right players to fill our organization's cupboard. After the jump we take a look at some of the players we've drafted over the past couple of years and see how Joe's been doing.
THE BIG GUNS
Scott Glennie (Rnd 1, 2009): Many are skeptical about Glennie's future as his goal-scoring seemed to take a huge hit after the departure of Brayden Shenn from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, along with concerns about injuries. I for one was excited about the opportunity for Glennie, and I believe that after he struggled for much of the beginning of the season, he is becoming a better player as the season wears on. I think that moving him to center from right wing allowed him to develop as a playmaker more than a pure goal-scoring machine. Our last experiment with a pure goal-scorer (cough James Neal cough) just didn't work out as those kinds of players are always high-risk, high-reward guys. As it stands, Glennie is moving along at a perfectly respectable 34 goals and 50 assists in 65 games. Hopefully he can make the club next year, though our current NHL forward depth may provide a major challenge for him.
Jack Campbell (Rnd 1, 2010): Obviously, many were shell-shocked and overtaken with rage; and it's especially hard as we are all reminded of June 24 whenever Cam Fowler touches the puck for Anaheim this year. Campbell has struggled mightily this season and it was scary to find out it came to the point he had to hire a team psychiatrist to help him through his rough patch mentally. Thankfully Jack won't be headed to the looney bin anytime soon -- he just needed to be calmed down amongst the expectations. His performance at World Juniors certainly calmed me. Barring any major setback, I think the natural winner will have great success in the NHL. To give you an idea of his mental and physical toughness, he recently played through the flu because there were so many injuries on the team. He felt he needed to be with his team and play for them. I'll take that kind of heart any day.
THE OTHER GUYS
It's a little too soon to start talking about the guys drafted this last year, so most of these guys are from the 2009 NHL Draft. I was pleased to see the success basically every single draft pick that year is having to this point.
Tomas Vincour (Rnd 5, 2009): Perhaps we should just give away all our picks for a boat-load of 5th round picks? Jamie Benn, Vincour, Tommy Wandell? Yes sir. Vincour has quickly risen to the top of our prospect list, and broke into the NHL just over a month ago following the Boston Massacre. He doesn't have a single point yet -- which is mind-boggling -- but he's getting closer and closer every game and he's been almost perfect in every other aspect of his game. A bright future should be in the books for him.
Alex Chiasson (Rnd 2, 2009): I've heard it pronounced CHAY-SON, CHI-AH-SUN, and CHEES-ON by some weird-ball commentator (not named Pierre McGuire). Either way, it's a sweet name and he's putting up some sweet numbers with the BU Terriers. He's been picked on for his apparent lack of work ethic, but he's captaining the Terriers to an impressive #13 ranking and will be playing on March 10th (Thursday) in the first game of the Hockey East Quarterfinals.
Reilly Smith (Rnd 3, 2009): Smith has been a monster for Miami (Ohio) his season as a sophomore. He has some really sick highlight-real goals that even Jamie Benn would appreciate, and has picked up 44 points in 33 games (24g 20a). His ability with the puck is dazzling; I think of him as a poor man's Datysuk or Ribeiro. He can slow down the pace of the game and stick-handle through anyone's legs. His size is a concern but as long he continues to impress he could very well stick with the squad in the coming years. He is still pretty raw.
Curtis McKenzie (Rnd 6, 2009): This is a guy I'm really excited about. A great, safe pick that late in the draft. He was the captain of the Pentiction Vees before attending Miami (Ohio) and has boat loads of heart and work ethic. As I dug up information about McKenzie, the general consensus is that he's a non-stop, hard-nosed warrior who is dangerous in every aspect of the game (including PK) because of his intense work ethic. He's a born leader and you can feel that instantly in his interviews. I think of him as a more vocal Brenden Morrow without the scoring; although Morrow's goals aren't usually that pretty. It's all about fearlessness when it comes to these type of guys. These are the kinds of guys GM Joe wants around his guys.
Again, it's too soon to judge any of the 2010 draft picks -- or any of these guys for that matter -- but all of Joe/Les's picks thus far already are making noise and could very easily be future Stars. Guys like Patrick Nemeth and John Klingberg were great during World Juniors; Nemeth has already drawn comparisons to a more mobile version of Nicklas Grossman. Through all the roller coasters we've been through with Joe, everything he has done to this point has been positive for the franchise and I feel like we can trust that our team is in great hands now and in the future.
Now...Come on Doug Miller!