It's that time again where I start looking seven months into the future to the 2014 NHL Draft. What can we expect from this particular draft class?
This isn't a sign that I have given up on this season, more its something that I, and other prospect and draft peoples, enjoy thinking about.
Firstly, this draft doesn't have the same apparent depth the 2013 NHL Draft had. There is talent there but compared to last year it seems unlikely to reach those heights.
So who should Stars fans be paying attention to? It is impossible to predict where the Stars will finish this far ahead or how prospects will rise and fall over the year so this is likely a futile exercise. Despite that I still think its worth getting to know players and prospects.
The Stars, according to Hockey's Future, have the fourth best prospect pool in the whole of the NHL. Hopefully that will soon translate itself to the Stars themselves being in the top four of the NHL during the regular season but I digress.
My point with noting that the Stars prospect system is considered so strong is to make it clear that there is no clear 'need to improve significantly' part of the system. They could be better but none are in dire straits.
The Stars, unless everyone falls off the development cliff, are relatively free of constraints when it comes to this draft. They'll probably go after the best player available (BPA) without any attempt to 'shotgun' draft a particular position.
That said the organization is relatively clear on its position when it comes to drafting goaltenders. There is no such thing as too many goalies and the Stars will aim to try and draft one every year. So it can be assumed that the Stars will select, or sign, another goaltender to keep them coming in the pipeline.
So apart from probably one goaltender is there anyone Stars fans should look out for?
We present today three players of interest who are ranked around where the Stars would pick (12th) if the draft was held today.
Just a quick note: I'll probably keep up these profile style articles all the way up to the draft so don't worry if I didn't include someone that you believe should be on this list. It's likely something will appear about them throughout the season.
First up is Niagara IceDog Brendan Perlini. He's a 6'2 205lbs left wing who has, as I write this, 30 points in 19 OHL games. He is quick and dynamic with some impressive hockey sense.
He is getting a lot of offensive ice time for the IceDogs with the graduation to the pros of Brett Ritchie and Ryan Strome. Perlini is playing alongside Maple Leaf prospect Carter Verhaeghe (a 2013 draft pick who I really liked the look of.)
Interestingly Perlini was born in Guildford, in the UK, and has picked up some styles of the European game even if his game is a more Canadian power forward type player. This is a good article on Brendan Perlini from prospect focused Yahoo Sports blog 'Buzzing The Net'.
I personally think Perlini will go higher than the 12-16 rank he's got so far but he's one to keep an eye on anyway.
Another prospect, again from the OHL, that I like the look of and is ranked between 8-20 is Roland McKeown. He's a relatively big defensiveman at 6'1 185lbs but his biggest asset is his hockey sense and rarely being out of position because he is one step ahead of the game.
He plays for the Kingston Frontenacs and has 11 points in 18 games. He's the type of player that is the catalyst for offensive production rather than scoring the goals himself. He only has two goals in those 11 points, the rest are assists. He still has a pretty good shot but he just excels at finding that open pass that leads to goals.
Craig Button over at TSN thinks that McKeown could be a top pairing type of defenseman if everything goes to plan. You can never have too many defenseman after all.
Finally, and away from the OHL, is defenseman Haydn Fleury. He's a defenseman out of the WHL playing for the Red Deer Rebels. He is big -- 6'3 203lbs -- and uses his body extremely well to shutdown opposing forwards.
Despite the size the Scouting Report notes that he has very good mobility for a player of his size. A big mobile physical defenseman out of the Dub? Sounds like a Stars kind of prospect.
Though you might be thinking another shutdown defenseman that isn't the case. He is one of those defenseman who in their first years are told to hold the fort and learn defense. A relatively important skill after all on the blueline. He does have some very interesting, if still not in full bloom, offensive talent.
In the 2012-13 season he had 19 points in 66 games. In 16 games this season he has 10. I think he might breeze past his previous scoring total if he keeps up that pace. He's another one that is ranked anywhere between 8 and 16.
Something else to take into account is his birthdate, 8th July. He's probably one of the youngest prospects in this draft class and that should be taken into account when analyzing his potential. He's nearly a year younger than some of the players in this draft. That's a year less development.
Throughout the year, and as the regular season and draft rankings become clearer, I'll keep on pointing out players that people should keep an ear out for as the year progresses.