We continue our countdown of the Dallas Stars prospects with No. 16 through 13. Once again, given who is listed in today's countdown, it's obvious just how deep the Stars system has become over the past few years. The 2012 draft has the chance to be one of the very best for the Dallas Stars in a very long time, with the team obviously targeting pure skill and worth ethic in 2012.
There was some apparent consternation at my mention that the Stars do not possess "elite prospects," with that being the reason the Stars are not ranked as high as we might expect them to be. No one say that Dallas does not have one of the deepest systems in the NHL, but there is question as to whether the Stars have true "blue chip" talent among the prospects.
I reached out to Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and learned that for him, an "elite" prospect is a top 20 or top 30 prospect in all of the NHL. Radek Faksa is certainly the closest to this group and if that is his criteria, then it's understandable why the Stars are not considered to have one. These scouting sites and rankings give a lot of credit to players with top-level offensive skill, especially on defense. Defensive defensemen, such as Nemeth and Oleksiak, are not considered as valuable. Players like Alex Chiasson, while having great offensive potential, are considered more of a "grinder" type forward; coming from the NCAA also seems to be a factor.
Whether the Stars have true "elite" talent or not, it's clear that the organization is going to have some tough decisions to make in the next few years.
On to the countdown.
Top 20 Dallas Stars Prospects:
No. 13. Emil Molin, C -- Brynas (SEL)
2011-12 Totals: 29 GP, 15 G, 27 A, 42 PTS, 45 PIM, (+13) <-- J20 Brynas
Drafted: 4th round, 105th overall, 2011 - Signed ELC, June 2012
Brandon Worley: Molin was one of the forwards that really stood out at development camp, a speedy and skilled center who showcased good finishing ability but also top-notch playmaking skills as well. He's a bit undersized but has quickly become one of the top players at the junior level, who has received limited opportunities at the Elitserien level in Sweden. He'll be going back and forth between the J20 team and the SEL team in Brynas again this year, but it's clear he's ready to fully graduate the top level of hockey in Sweden; an impressive feat for a 19-year old. If Molin can continue to build on his potential as a playmaker in the SEL, then it seems the Stars may have found one of the skilled, playmaking centers that has been so absent from the organization for a while now.
Huw Wales: Emil Molin has made good progress since he was drafted out of the J18 Swedish League spending most of the season after being drafted playing in the Elitserien. Though he only registered 5 points in 34 games in the Elitserien he demolished the J20 scoring 42 points in 29 games. This success last season convinced the Stars of the need to sign him to an ELC and like John Klingberg, Emil Molin will need to bulk up in order to stand the rigors of the North American game. Depending on whether he can transfer his scoring prowess to the Elitserien this season he potentially could be playing in Cedar Park in the next few years.
No. 14. Austin Smith, RW -- Texas Stars (AHL)
2011-12 Totals: 39 GP, 36 G, 21 A, 57 PTS, 30 PIM, (+25) <-- Colgate, NCAA
Drafted: 5th round, 128th overall, 2007 - Signed ELC, 2012
Brandon: Austin enjoyed a breakout season last year, leading the NCAA in goals and being a finalist for the Hobey Baker in his senior year with Colgate. He'll be 24 in November, and is a bit older than most prospects -- but it is very clear that his leadership and maturity are part of what makes him so great. There's question as to just how his size and skill will carry over to the AHL; it's very possible he moves up this ranking with a strong showing in Austin. What's clear is that Smith is one of the highest skilled forwards the Stars have had in a very long time; his vision and speed, along with his skating in tight spaces, could lead him to become a breakout playmaker for the Texas Stars this season.
Huw: Austin Smith tore through the NCAA with Colgate University scoring 57 points in 39 games which made him a Hobey Baker Finalist. Though he only registered three assists with the Texas Stars in the last 12 games of the AHL season a full season will allow him to blossom into an effective pro forward. With the Texas Stars stacked due to the
lockout he could see his time reduced, whether this will be detrimental to his development will have to be seen. He needs to spend the next one or two seasons seasoning in the AHL before he has a shot at a long term stay with the big club.
No. 15. Jyrki Jokipakka, D -- Ilves (SM-Liiga)
2011-12 Totals: 52 GP, 9 G, 8 A, 17 PTS, 18 PIM, (-4)
Drafted: 7th rouund, 195th overall, 2011 - Signed ELC, 2012
Brandon: Jokipakka was one of the more intriguing prospects at the development camp this summer. A 7th round pick in 2011, it's clear the Stars might have found a late-round gem with incredible hockey intelligence and mechanics. Jokipakka is like a machine in his own end; always in the right place, always making the right decision. He has good movement with the puck and a decent shot (he was the highest scoring defenseman on his team in Finland last year) but it's likely he'll be used as a physical, shutdown defenseman at the AHL level (in my estimation, at least). He has NHL potential, perhaps even as a second pairing defenseman, if he can continue to carry this success to North America. There's been talk of his joining the Texas Stars this season, but Jokipakka remains in Europe for now.
Huw: Jyrki Jokipakka has developed into a pretty good offensive defenseman though his skating needs work. He has become an important part of IIves of the SM-Liiga with many of their fans feeling very thankful that he has yet to leave to North America. Its quite possible, and likely, that Jyrki Jokipakka will play for the Texas Stars in 2013-2014. He appears to be exceeding the expectations given to him as a seventh round pick and could become a serviceable offensive defenseman depending upon his adaption to the North American game.
No. 16. Devin Shore, C - Univ. of Maine (NCAA)
2011-12 Totals: 41 GP, 29 G, 29 A, 58 PTS, 26 PIM <-- Whitby Fury, OJHL
Drafted: 2nd round, 61st overall, 2012
Brandon: Shore is the next top prospect the Stars are stashing away in the NCAA, a playmaking center with incredible potential if he can develop his defensive game a bit. Shore has produced at every level he's played and he'll be playing for Maine in a very tough hockey division. He has good size and should continue to add weight to a solid frame; what he needs to work on the most is his work in the opposite end. It's going to be interesting to see how his skills develop with Maine and while it may be a few years until he makes it to the next level, this is another top prospect to keep an eye on.
Huw: Devin Shore was drafted out of the AJHL as the top rookie and as probably the best playmaking forward that was drafted out of the CJHL in 2012. His biggest weakness and one that will hopefully be resolved through the rigors of the NCAA is his defensive play. He has a long time in the NCAA to resolve this weakness and if he does this he could be a serviceable second line centre. With the Stars appearing to successful develop a large crop of players from out of college (Alex Chiasson, Reilly Smith, Austin Smith) Stars fans might have a good reason to feel optimistic about Devin Shore's development. It will take a few years to see how Devin Shore develops but with the flood of prospects playing with the Texas Stars over the next two years the Stars can afford to let him develop in the NCAA.