NHL Draft Watch 2012: The Late First Round

Since I first wrote a piece on the First Round the Stars have been up and down in the standings and now appear (touch wood) to be close to being able to secure their first playoff berth for 4 years. Since my original post was based on a more pessimistic view of how this season would turn out I've decided to write one based on the more optimistic (which will hopefully occur in reality) view of how our season will finish. Because of this I have decided to pick a few prospects that are ranked between 14-30 in the first round and could potentially be drafted by the Stars this year.

All notes are from various scouting websites and rankings are from their respective websites. Each players name links to their Elite Prospects page.

Pontus Aberg

Age: 18

Height: 5"11

Weight: 187lbs

Nationality: Swedish

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Right

Current Team: Djurgården

Current League: Elitserien

Current Stats: 47 Games, 8 Goals, 7 Assists, 15 Points, 9PIMs

Draft Rankings:

CSS: 4th

Craigs List: 19th

TSN's Midterm Report: 19th

ISS: 15th

The Hockey Guys: 18th

Future Considerations: 18th

Hockey Prospectus: 18th

The Scouting Report: 14th

McKeens Hockey: 20th

Pontus Aberg is a small skilled Swedish forward. He is regarded as a good two way player and has risen in the draft because of his offensive contributions this season. Considering that Pontus Aberg is only 18 and 5"11 he has proven himself able to compete at the higher level of the adult teams in the Elitserien. He is considered a very creative player and the ability to get out of tight spaces. This is helped by a good heavy slap shot and quick wrist shot. He is also a very good puck handler. He was unable to play in the World Juniors however due to an injury sustained in a check from the Star's own Jamieson Oleksiak.

Should we draft him?

It's clear that Pontus Aberg is a talented skilled forward who has the potential to be a top six forward. If he were to bulk up and preferably grow a little taller then I would have no problem with drafting him. Though his size is smaller than I would like to see he has proven himself adapt in the Elitserien facing bigger more physical opponents. Though it might not be North American hockey it suggests his size might not be as big an issue. My feeling suggests that if any good centremen were still left then we would not draft Pontus Aberg. However I do think we would give him serious consideration, especially considering the lack of depth is not limited to just the centre position but also the left wing.

Radek Faksa

Age: 18

Height: 6"3

Weight: 203lbs

Nationality: Czech

Position: Centre

Shoots: Left

Current Team: Kitchener Rangers

Current League: OHL

Current Stats: 59 Games, 28 Goals, 35 Assists, 63 Points, 45PIMs, +19

Draft Rankings:

CSS: 4th

Craigs List: 14th

TSN's Midterm Report: 10th

ISS: 19th

The Hockey Guys: 15th

Future Considerations: 12th

Hockey Prospectus: 11th

The Scouting Report: 16th

McKeens Hockey: 16th

Radek Faksa is a big talented forward in his first year in the OHL. Radek Faksa is a big power forward but without the fighting aspect of a traditional North American power forward. He is smart on the puck and effective on the forecheck. In his rookie OHL season he is exceeding a point per game and will likely be the OHL rookie of the year. However one issue he has is his lack of explosiveness in his skating and his lack of a ‘wow' factor. It takes him some time to get up speed which could be an issue. However Radek Faksa could be a top line forward at the NHL level that the Stars desperately need in their prospect pool.

Should we draft him?

Radek Faksa would definitely be one of several centre prospects who would be very tempting to the Stars. A big power forward type player is something that the Stars would like to have and it would definitely help the Stars problem with centre prospect depth. I would have no problem with drafting Radek Faksa in the second half of the first round. He would likely be picked between 14-20, if not earlier, in my opinion so any deep playoff run would rule him out of the Stars range. He would also have to wait until he was 20 to turn pro because he only joined the OHL this season, that is unless he went straight up to the NHL. I can see the choice of who to draft being between Radek Faksa and the next prospect Tomas Hertl.

Tomas Hertl

Age: 18

Height: 6"2 (Other list him as 6"0)

Weight: 187lbs

Nationality: Czech

Position: Centre

Shoots: Left

Current Team: HC Slavia Praha

Current League: Czech

Current Stats: 38 Games, 12 Goals, 13 Assists, 25 Points, 22 PIMs

Draft Rankings

CSS: 3rd

Craigs List: 24th

TSN's Midterm Report: 23rd

ISS: 24th

The Hockey Guys: 21st

Future Considerations: 25th

Hockey Prospectus: 21st

The Scouting Report: 20th

McKeens Hockey: 26th

Tomas Hertl is another Czech centre ranked within the first round. He is a skilled playmaker with soft hands. He is able to hold the puck to find the perfect passing lane or shot instead of simply passing it straight away, a description in which reminds me of how Riberio or Eriksson plays (NOTE: This does not mean he is like those two players, the description merely reminded me of some of their plays). He has very good intelligence on the puck and good hockey sense. He maintains some grittiness and nearly always finishes his checks. His main downside is the fact that he lacks the top end skating skill that mean he is in danger more often than not of being left behind the developing play.

Should we draft him?

Tomas Hertl is one of the two centre prospects (The other Radek Faksa) that might be available in the second half of the draft that really appeal to me as a Stars fan. If we are looking for a skilled playmaking centre this is definitely the prospect that we should be drafting. However like Radek Faksa he will likely be drafted between 14-20, though he might fall to as low as 22nd. If we are knocked out within the first round it would probably be a choice between him, Pontus Aberg or Radek Faksa.

Stefan Matteau

Age: 18

Height: 6"1

Weight: 209lbs

Nationality: Joint American Canadian

Position: Left Wing/Centre

Shoots: Left

Current Team: USNTDP Juniors

Current League: USHL

Current Stats: 13 Games, 5 Goals, 3 Assist, 8 Points, 80PIMs, +4

Draft Rankings

CSS: 13th

Craigs List: No Rank

TSN's Midterm Report: 25th

ISS: 25th

The Hockey Guys: 25th

Future Considerations: 27th

Hockey Prospectus: 33rd

The Scouting Report: 19th

McKeens Hockey: 29th

Stefan Matteau has a good skill set and also has the size for the professional game. He also plays a solid power forward game with strength around the boards. However he lacks the elite skill set while also not having the quickest skating ever and his play on the puck needs to become more consistent. Stefan Matteau is a safe bet to join the professional ranks, however his upper limit would be a second line player, probably more likely to be a good presence on the third line.

Should we draft him?

If we are picking late in the first round Stefan Matteau could be a player we might want to pick. He would definitely be a solid and safe pick. However the Stars have plenty of depth forwards coming up already and the Stars really want an elite player. Picking later means any potential elite player would also be far more likely to be a bust and a safe pick might be advisable. I personally don't think we would pick Stefan Matteau if we were going to draft in the later first round, if it was a choice between him and several defensemen listed below I would pick a defenseman.

Brady Skjei

NOTE: Most of this is repeated from the Second Round post.

Age: 17

Height: 6"3

Weight: 203lbs

Nationality: American

Shoots: Left

Position: Defence

Current Team: USNTDP

Current League: USHL

Current Stats: 19 Games, 1 Goal, 8 Assists, 9 Points, 12 PIMs, +4

Draft Rankings:

CSS: 18th

Craigs List: 44th

TSN's Midterm Report: 21st

ISS: 14th

The Hockey Guys: 25th

Future Considerations: 43rd

Hockey Prospectus: 44th

The Scouting Report: 29th

McKeens Hockey: No Rank

Despite Brady Skjei huge size he is one of the most mobile and best skating defensemen in the entire draft. He is still relatively raw but if he continues to work hard he will become a good defenseman in the NHL in time. Time is what it would take as he is committed to play for the University of Minnesota in 2012. Though it would be at least 3 years before he would turn pro Skjei has shot up the rankings since the beginning of the season. He lacks however any sort of physicality preferring to use his stick rather than his body to disrupt play. Hopefully he will work on this before turning pro as someone of his size would bring far more to his game if willing to use his size.

Should we draft him?

Brady Skjei does not appear to the type of defensemen who will put up significant points on the table, some but not a lot. He is big and a very good skater for his size. It does give you a pause for thought to imagine a possible partnership with someone like Oleksiak/Nemeth/Vance in the future. He is another player that is dedicated to taking the NCAA route and therefore will be several years in coming to the pros. However it would allow him time to work on some impressive set of skills that are still, for the moment, pretty raw. Though he would take a long time I think Brady Skjei could be an impressive defenseman in the NHL if he learns to become physical. Brady Skjei is another player who was covered in the second round post, however he could be drafted late in the first round so I decided to mention him in this post as well.

Dalton Thrower

NOTE: Most of this is repeated from the Second Round post.

Age: 18

Height: 5"11

Weight: 179lbs

Nationality: Canadian

Shoots: Right

Position: Defense

Current Team: Saskatoon Blades

Current League: WHL

Current Stats: 66 Games, 18 Goals, 36 Assists, 54 Points, 103PIMs, -4

Draft Rankings:

CSS: 30th

Craigs List: 50th

TSN's Midterm Report: Honourable Mention

ISS: 49th

The Hockey Guys: Honourable mention

Future Considerations: 20th

Hockey Prospectus: 41st

The Scouting Report: 45th

McKeens Hockey: 27th

Dalton Thrower is a gritty defenseman who has over this season been advancing his offensive game for the Blades. He is good defensively and is unafraid to use the body. His physicality is seen as one of his good points and he can have a huge impact on a game just through his hits and physical play. He models his game after Kevin Bieksa and could potentially turn out to be a good two way defenseman who can provide solid contributes on both ends of the ice. However he does need to improve on his hockey sense.

Should we draft him?

Dalton Thrower would clearly be an asset on the Stars blueline providing both solid defensive work while also being able to contribute points. Through the last couple of drafts we have seen as being size orientated however, so his relatively (compared to other defensemen we have) small size might count against him. What is obvious though is that despite not having the size of someone like Oleksiak/Vance he plays with a high degree of physicality. In a way he reminds me of a physical version of Philip Larsen. However Larsen does appears to be developing into a defenseman who is capable of providing offensive contributes while being physical. (Another description that might fit him mentioned by Newt Goodler in the Second round post was like a young Robidas) Dalton Thrower is definitely a tempting prospect to pick. I have included him in this post because I believe there is a chance that he could be picked late in the first round. If so he might be within the Stars range if we were to get into the post season.

Andrei Vasilevski

Age: 17

Height: 6"3

Nationality: Russian

Position: Goalie

Catches: Right?

Current Team: Tolpar Ufa

Current League: MHL

Current Stats: 27 Games, 2.23GAA, .931SVS%

Draft Rankings:

CSS (European Goalies): 1st

Craigs List: 21st

TSN's Midterm Report: 18th

ISS: No Rank

The Hockey Guys: 29th

Future Considerations: 24th

Hockey Prospectus: 48th

The Scouting Report: 27th

McKeens Hockey: 15th

Andrei Vasilevski plays a style of goaltendering which is far beyond his years, despite being only 17 many say his style and performance in the net are more like a 24 year old goalie rather than a 17 year old. He burst onto the scene with a stunning performance at the world juniors this year and has been projected to go anywhere from the late first round to the early second round. Andrei Vasilevski will definitely be a good goalie, however it's not yet known whether he sees himself going to play in North America or whether he will stay in Russia.

Should we draft him?

Though the Dallas Stars goaltender prospects cupboard is empty and will need restocking through the draft or free agency in the next 2 years I doubt that we will draft a goaltender with our first round pick. Vasilevski is good, but we have already got a potential star goalie in the Jack Campbell and I personally think any retooling goalie wise will be done in the later rounds (My personal bet being with one of our 5th rounders or our 4th). There is also the Stars' Russian ‘Problem'. The Stars appear to shy away from drafting Russians so this may factor in with the decision. For those who might challenge the Russian issue it's a matter of fact that since 2004 we have drafted 2 Russians (Ivan Vishnevskly and Sergei Korostin) out of 51 picks. Whatever the reason is the Stars appear not to want to draft Russians.

My Opinion

I personally think that who we are aiming for depends upon, if we make it into the post season, how far we go. If we were to go out in the first round then I would say that we will draft either Faksa or Hertl if they are still available. If they aren't and Pontus Aberg is then I think we will draft him.

If we go beyond the first round then I think, and this is purely a guess, that we might draft a defensemen in the latter stages of the first round. This year's draft is so deep in good defensemen that we might want to stock up even more on defensemen, in my opinion it would most likely be Dalton Thrower. Another outside possibility, if drafting beyond 24th, would be drafting someone like Jarrod Maidens who has fallen in the rankings but is still a first round talent.

As a new feature, and to gauge the views of those who may look but not comment, I will add a poll at the bottom so I can see what people think.

This is a user-created FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Defending Big D. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable hockey and Dallas Stars fans.

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