It has been another season of our Stars missing the playoffs and having a long summer ahead of themselves. With the end of the regular season and with the Stars disappointingly looking in from the outside of the playoffs our minds will have to turn to the off season and to begin with the NHL Draft. I've been writing pieces on possible draft picks since nearly the beginning of the year in order to try and familiarize others and myself with the names and characteristics of prospects and how they might fit into the Dallas Stars bigger picture heading forward. A lot has changed since I wrote the first piece as rankings shift players up and down as players suffer injuries, disappointing seasons or play above all expectations.
In order to try and guess, because that is all that it is at the moment, who the Stars have their eye on at the draft and who will fit into the organisations plan for the future we have to look at our current prospects. Though this website is out-dated it gives you a good idea of the state of the our prospect depth:
The major concern for the Dallas Stars prospect wise is our depth of quality forwards, especially at the centre and left wing positions. Our defence has been stocked up quite well after two drafts and several free agent acquisitions of the last two years but could still be improved upon.
Another issue, which I have raised, is the lack of depth we have in the goal. I honestly believe we will need to draft a goaltender this year or the next at the very latest in order to keep the pipeline going. (Also I've noticed that we have been drafting a goaltender every two years for the last 6 years now, so now would be the time we would pick a goalie if the pattern follows). Yes I believe Jack Campbell will be the Stars Goalie of the future however I think it's also important to keep a certain amount of depth. Also looking at the past history of goaltenders drafted by Dallas they tend to be of high quality and could be used in trades (I.E Mike Smith).
However this draft is particularly heavy on the defence side with possibly over half of the first round being used to pick defenders and maybe even as many as 6 of the top 10. This depth of quality defensemen means that good defensemen are dropping to the second round and other quality forwards are dropping as teams leap on potential franchise defensemen.
The Stars currently hold the 13th pick in every round (apart from the second, fifth and sixth rounds (Additional LA pick in second, Additional Panthers pick in fifth, our sixth traded to the panthers). A grand total of 8 picks in this years draft and 3 within the top 60. So how will we use these picks to advance the organisation and strengthen the weaknesses in our organisation?
This is my opinion of what we could see in the draft:
1. We will pick at least one goaltender prospect. Most likely between the third and fifth rounds. I feel it will either be our third rounder or one of our fifths.
2. Our first round pick will almost certainly be a forward. In my eyes I can see us being interested in Brendan Gaunce, Radek Faksa, Pontus Aberg and Zemgus Girgensons. However its possible that all of these players are taken before we pick (apart from Pontus Aberg and Brendan Gaunce) In that case we will definitely pick a defenseman such as Cody Ceci, Brady Skjei, Hampus Lindholm, Olli Maatta, Griffin Reinhart or Dalton Thrower.
3. I think we might split our pair of seconds between a forward and a defenseman. Forwards: Jarrod Maidens, Martin Frk, Christian ‘Boo' Nieves and maybe Brady Vail/Tanner Pearson/Lukas Sutter. Defence: Jordan Schamaltz, Ludvig Bystrom and Esa Lindell. Unless two very good forwards are available then it will be a 1 forward 1-defenseman split. There is too much good defensemen talent in this draft not to pick up at least one d-man in the first two rounds.
4. We will probably stay with the mantra of picking big in the draft, its been years since we picked someone officially under 6"0. Maybe not the colossuses like Jamieson Oleksiak and Troy Vance, but at least 6"0. However if there is a player who plays big while not being big I can see us drafting them.
5. At a very rough guess I think our 8 picks will be split like so: 1 goaltender, 4 forwards and 3 defensemen. At least two of our forwards will play centre. With depth in defence in the draft we will try and pick up at least one good defenseman who has fallen and maybe a hidden gem/project in the later rounds.
So one of the biggest questions that most Dallas Stars fans will ask at the draft is who our amazing late round steal will be. Our history with many of our fifth rounders' reaching the pros before our higher drafted prospects means that a lot of thought will be put into this question. I've noticed a few names that have risen or generally might be undervalued, though not necessarily fifth rounders. I'm not going to go into massive detail of them because a lot of them don't have a lot written about them. So here are a few prospects that could be a steal:
Gustav Ryhdal - Center, 6"2, 194lbs, Left Shot, Frölunda, Sweden
Troy Donnay - Defence, 6"7, 176lbs, Right Shot, Erie Otters, OHL
Justin Auger - Right Wing, 6"5, 201lbs, Right Shot, Guelph Storm, OHL
Mackenzie Maceachern - Forward, 6"2, Left Shot, Brother Rice Warriors, USHS
Erik Karlsson - Center, 5"11, Left Shot, Frölunda, Sweden
Philip Tot - Left Wing, 6"0, Left Shot, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
Reiley Barber - Right Wing/Center, 5"11, Right Shot, USNTDP Juniors, USHL
Josh Anderson - Left Wing, 6"1, 181lbs, Left Shot, London Knights, OHL
Those names are just guesses and gut feelings on my part as I haven't been able to watch any of them play. Some of them have jumped into the top 100 from having no rank at all while others have jumped between 50 and 100 ranks since the mid term rankings so they must be doing something right.
I would very much welcome discussion on the above and also other prospects that anyone likes the look of and has a good feeling about. It will be good to see if anyone can guess who our late round steal, if there is one, is going to be.