With the new season underway and a training camp filled with young players and prospects from juniors and the AHL its an appropriate time to analyse the potential ceiling for the Dallas Stars prospects. It's also important to analyse what their likely ceiling actually is. It's important to remember that potential ceiling and likely ceiling are two very different things.
Potential ceiling is the top level that each prospect could reach if everything goes right in their development and they stay on track. For example Jack Campbell has the potential to be an elite starting goaltender in the NHL, his natural talents and skills put him in a place where he could reach that level.
Likely ceiling is where players are, based on their current level of performance, predicted to reach. Most prospects do not reach their potential ceiling but instead are several steps below it. This occurs when everything does not go according to plan, where they hit a rut or suffer a injury.
This is the second post of a series of three looking at the potential and likely ceiling of Dallas Stars prospects. The first was one goaltenders and can be found here. The third will be on forwards.
Note: These ceilings are based solely on my opinion.
Ludwig Bystrom, 18, Orebro Allsvenskan 6"0 194lbs, Drafted Second Round, 43rd Overall in 2012
Potential Ceiling: Number 2 or 3 Offensive Defenseman
Likely Ceiling: Number 3 Offensive Defenseman
Ludwig Bystrom was a bit of a surprise drop in the 2012 draft and could be one of the bigger steals of the second round. He's currently playing for Orebro, Allsvenskan (Second Division) in Sweden after being loaned from Modo in the Elitserien (First Division). He had been up and down the lineup for Modo and wasn't getting consistent minutes and his loan to Orebro will hopefully allow him to step up and take some consistent bigger minutes. He's still young and has a lot of refining to do in Sweden before he's ready for the North American game. It was a bit of a surprise that he was passed over for Sweden's WJC team earlier this year but hopefully if he develops well over the next year he will be on their roster playing a prominent role then.
Bystrom has the potential to be an elite offensive defenseman. Maybe not a number 1 defenseman but definitely either number two or number three. His main weakness currently is that he is, like many young offensive defenseman, raw when it comes to the defensive end of the game. He's got good puck handling skills, skating ability and an offensive vision - all important if he is going to take an offensive role in the NHL someday. If he gets the consistent time on the ice to develop and mature his game he could become an important part of the Dallas Stars in the future. He has the tools to become a pretty good player at the NHL level but he has to refine and mature his game.
When it comes to when he will come to North America to play my guess would be that he would play at least another full season in Sweden, hopefully with proper consistent minutes with Modo in the Elitserien, before he goes to the AHL. With the talent that is further up the pipeline he doesn't need to be rushed. If he gets the time he will get to don the Stars jersey one day at American Airlines Centre.
Jace Coyle, 22, Idaho Steelheads ECHL 6"0, 200lbs, Free Agent Signing
Potential Ceiling: Career AHLer/ECHLer
Likely Ceiling: Career AHLer/ECHLer
Jace Coyle is one of those Dallas Stars prospects most fans haven't heard of. He was signed as a free agent out of the WHL in 2010 but has failed to make a huge impression in the AHL and has spent most of his time this season playing with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. Its highly unlikely he will ever make the NHL as even an injury replacement and is more suited for a role in either the ECHL or the AHL.
Jace Coyle has some of the skills needed to quarterback the powerplay but it has never come together for him. His lack of physicality is a problem, especially in the pros. His weaknesses outweigh his strengths and its unlikely he will be resigned by the Stars when his entry level contract finishes at the end of the season, especially considering the Stars will be getting close to their 50 contract limit.
Brenden Dillon, 22, Dallas Stars NHL 6"3, 228lbs, Free Agent Signing
Potential Ceiling: Number 3-4 Defenseman
Likely Ceiling: Number 4 Defenseman
Brenden Dillon is one defenseman who will likely not be on this list by the time that the season is over. He looks like he has got a full time role in Dallas this season and will likely play out the season on the second or third defensive pairings. For those who don't know his story Dillon was signed as a free agent out of the WHL in 2010 after being passed over in the NHL draft several times. Dillon is the classic late bloomer player and has really taken a step up in the last few years becoming an important part of the Texas Stars defense when he played in the AHL last season and during the lockout. Its a pretty good achievement for him to have been passed over in both the WHL Bantam Draft and the NHL draft and yet made his NHL debut at the age of 21.
Dillon is a big physical minded defenseman who moves pretty well for his size. On a Stars blueline which is relatively small this year he stands out as a physical and defensive minded defenseman. He can help put up some points but he isn't going to blow anyone out of the water with his offensive talents. He uses his body effectively and isn't afraid to drop the gloves in order to stand up for his teammates. For example when he challenged Jordin Tootoo after he laid a big hit on Philip Larsen on the 22nd of January.
Brenden Dillon has hit the point where he is fully ready for the pros. He might still need some time to get used to the NHL game but that is a matter of refinement which can only really happen by playing games in the NHL. Hopefully he will continue to perform well and form a part of the Stars blueline for some years to come.
Jyrki Jokipakka, 21, IIves SM-Liiga, 6"3, 198lbs, Drafted Seventh Round, 195th Overall in 2011
Potential Ceiling: Number 4 Defenseman
Likely Ceiling: Number 4-5 Defenseman
Jyrki Jokipakka is one the Dallas Stars prospects who is flying under the radar when it comes to how he is doing in the SM-Liiga. He was drafted in 2011 in the seventh round after being passed over in 2010. Since he has been drafted Jokipakka has become a stalwart on the blue line for IIves in the SM-Liiga. IIves are going through some troubled times and look set to be relegated from the SM-Liiga after narrowly avoiding it last season. Jokipakka has stepped up playing on the first defensive pairing and has been playing huge minutes, averaging around 23 minutes per game. If it weren't for the lockout I imagine its possible he would be in Austin this season however another full season in the SM-Liiga, even on a losing side, playing top minutes will do great things for his development and also help him develop leadership skills.
Despite his size Jokipakka is a pretty mobile skater and has excellent positioning to help him defensively. He isn't the most physical defenseman in the world, using his long reach and positioning instead of bone crushing hits to stop onrushing forwards. Though he is more likely suited to a defensive role in North America he does shoot a lot in the SM-Liiga, and is third on his team and 53rd in the league with 137 shots through 43 games this season. This willingess to shoot the puck might help him become more of an offensive threat when it comes to North America.
It's likely, especially if IIves are relegated, that Jyrki Jokipakka will play for the Texas Stars next season. He will need a couple of years in the AHL to develop more but Jokipakka is beginning to look like he could become a serviceable defensive minded defender in the NHL in a few years time.
John Klingberg, 20, Skelleftea ElitSerien, 6"1, 176lbs, Drafted Fifth Round, 131st Overall in 2010
Potential Ceiling: Number 4 Offensive Defenseman
Likely Ceiling: Number 5-6 Offensive Defenseman
John Klingberg has had a rough two seasons and its hurt his development. His move to the SM-Liiga to play for Jokerit didn't work out and he ended up returning to Skelleftea in Sweden. After this he suffered an injury which required surgery meaning he missed a lot of the 2012-2013 season recovering. Now that he has returned from injury he is slowly beginning to get used to the Elitserien again. He still shows flashes of offensive brilliance but he has been inconsistent so far this season.
Klingberg has the potential to be a decent offensive defenseman at the NHL level, he has excellent skating and hockey vision. This combined with his good puck skills and the williness to join the rush means he has all the tools to be an effective offensive defenseman. However he is still not the most physically strong defenseman and its not particular hard to knock him off the puck. He has begun to bulk up over the past two years but still needs build on it. His defensive work, like many young offensive defenseman, needs work if he wants to become a success in North America.
Though his development has been knocked off track with the events of the past few years it is still possible that he will make it to the NHL. I think its likely he will probably need to spend at least another year in Sweden before he's ready to play in North America. If he doesn't make the move to North America in the new few seasons it becomes increasingly unlikely that he ever will.
Hubert Labrie, 21, Texas Stars AHL, 5"11, 190lbs, Free Agent Signing
Potential Ceiling: Career AHLer
Likely Ceiling: Career AHLer/ECHLer
Hubert Labrie was signed as a free agent out of the QMJHL in 2009. He was seen as a small defensively orientated defenseman that was rare in the Q. He was known for his tenaciousness and being physical despite the size difference. He hasn't really seen huge amounts of ice time with the Texas Stars and the influx of young talent talent means that he is unlikely to get much ice time in Texas. He will probably spend the this season and next season going between the Texas Stars and the Idaho Steelheads. It appears very unlikely that he will have an impact in Dallas in the foreseeable future.