When Hockey Prospectus and Corey Pronman announced their top 10 prospects for the Dallas Stars it was generally met with shock and surprise from many of those who read it, including myself. Most Dallas Stars fans would consider Jack Campbell as the top prospect for the Stars or at least within the top three. However Hockey Prospectus hadn't even included him within the top 10.
This was immediately explained by the authors feelings on measuring goaltender development, seen here in this piece aptly called I Don't Hate Your Goalie Prospect. Essentially there is so much NHL talent at the goaltender position either tradeable or as a free agent, there is far less value in a top goaltender prospect than a top forward. This is an understandable position even though over the years Dallas has produced some excellent goaltenders.
The rankings Hockey Prospectus came up with were:
1. Radek Faksa, Center
2. Reilly Smith, Right Wing
3. Ludwig Bystrom, Defense
4. Alex Chiasson, Right Wing
5. Matt Fraser, Left Wing
6. Jamieson Oleksiak, Defense
7. Matej Stransky, Right Wing
8. Scott Glennie, Right Wing
9. Brenden Dillon, Defense
10.Patrik Nemeth, Defense
Beyond Jack Campbell were there any surprises in the top 10 rankings?
I personally find analysing prospects fascinating and due to the nature of player development these rankings tend to be subjective. Its very hard to predict how each player will develop or perform or if they suffer from injury or some other issue. It also depends upon what different people look for in a prospect. Everyone's opinion is different but collected together they can show some interesting trends in how prospects are perceived. I personally don't agree with these rankings but that's just my opinion.
The first thing that jumps out at me when I look at this list is the lack of both Alex Chiasson and Jamie Oleksiak in the top three positions. Alex Chiasson, I believe, could be one of the top forwards for the Stars in a few short years while Oleksiak could be an effective top pairing shutdown defender. For most Stars fans they would probably, along with Jack Campbell, make up the top three prospects the Stars have.
Another surprise is seeing likely NHL regular next season Brendan Dillon in 9th on this list. Though he might not have as higher potential ceiling as Oleksiak he looks like he could become an efficient second or third pairing defenseman. He has the size and mean streak to be able to perform the role that Sheldon Souray played in Dallas last season. This kind of defenseman might not put up a tonne of points but they are very important parts of a successful team.
The inclusion of Ludwig Bystrom at number three surprised me a lot. I would likely put him just entering the top 10, but he appears to have the raw potential to put him in a list of prospects to be excited about. He's got offensive talent and good skill and there's nothing wrong with a good offensive defenseman. However he is undersized and needs to work on his defensive game, a reason why he might just break a top 10 list in my mind. However, I do think he has the potential to be a highly effective defenseman even if I don't think he's within the top five stars prospects.
The more I read these rankings the more I felt that I was judging these prospects on a different set of criteria than Corey Pronman. As I've already mentioned judging prospects is highly subjective and depends upon what each individual values. I personally favour those players who have a strong two way game, who can put points up while also providing effective defensive play, a reason why I wouldn't have Matt Fraser at number 5 before Jamie Oleksiak. Oleksiak and Patrick Nemeth would be higher on my rankings because of my value on having these defensive values.
This list looks like its emphasis is based mostly on offensive production with other factors being less influential. For this reason a talented offensive defenseman like Ludwig Bystrom would be higher than a talented shut down defenseman with some offensive skill. Reilly Smith is another very talented forward with good offensive ability who, when he was in Dallas at the end of last season, suffered from being out of position defensively. Not surprising for a young rookie but it was clear from the lack of time he spent on the ice that he wasn't trusted with defensive responsibility.
It is always interesting to see how people outside of the hardcore fandom of the Dallas Stars view the prospects the Stars have. Despite the fact I might not agree with the order of the rankings it is an interesting piece to read. It shows how these prospects are viewed from outside of the Stars bubble.
It has made us think at Defending Big D that the time is due for our own list of top Dallas Stars prospects, updated after a summer of action in the system. This should be coming in the near future after much discussion and debate. After all, ranking prospects is a highly opinionated business.