2013 NHL Draft: Does Jim Nill Change The Stars Drafting Tendancies?

Examining whether the appointment of Jim Nill as General Manager of the Dallas Stars changes their drafting habits.

In recent years the Dallas Stars have developed a particular pattern when it comes to their drafting. In this article which I wrote shortly after the 2012 NHL Draft I analysed what the Stars have shown when it comes to their drafting habits. However, with the arrival of Jim Nill as General Manager, a GM who had plenty of hands on experience in drafting and development with the Detroit Red Wings, it's possible that the focus and strategy that the Stars approach the draft will be different. Who will call the shots when it comes to the draft?

In previous years it was Les Jackson who called the shots at the draft but Jim Nill also performed this role for Detroit. Who will have the final say on the draft might affect who the Stars go for, and probably will impact on the draft board that the Stars have been developing since the end of the regular season. Obviously as Nill is the General Manager he would have the final say but how would Nill making the final decision change how the Stars draft? Hopefully Jim Nill and Les Jackson will form a harmonious partnership and guide the organisation towards a bright future.

There is a general reputation that the Red Wings have one of the best drafting and development systems in the league. In particular they have a focus on European players and slow development but also finding diamonds in the rough. While some of this is an over-exaggeration, in particular the consistent top quality of the Red Wings drafting, other elements of it are true.

In order to work out the changes the Stars might undergo in drafting I've decided to analyse and compare both the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings drafting habits for the past 4 drafts, from 2009-2012.

After the many tables below some analysis:

Dallas Stars 2012

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
1 13 Dallas Radek Faksa C CZE 6"2 200 OHL
2 43 Dallas Ludwig Bystrom D SWE 6"0 169 SWE JR
2 54 Dallas Mike Winther C CAN 6"0 172 WHL
2 61 Dallas Devin Shore C CAN 6"0 185 OJHL
3 74 Dallas Esa Lindell D FIN 6"3 187 FINLAND-JR
4 104 Dallas Gemel Smith C CAN 5"10 164 OHL
5 134 Dallas Branden Troock RW CAN 6"2 194 WHL
5 144 Dallas Henri Kiviaho G FIN 6"1 167 FINLAND-JR
7 183 Dallas Dmitry Sinitsyn D RUS 6"2 200 H-EAST

Detroit Red Wings 2012

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
2 49 Detroit Martin Frk RW CZE 6"0 193 QMJHL
3 80 Detroit Jake Paterson G CAN 6"0 176 OHL
4 110 Detroit Andreas Athansiou C/LW CAN 6"0 177 OHL
5 140 Detroit Mike McKee D CAN 6"4 229 USHL
6 170 Detroit James de Haas D CAN 6"2 197 OJHL
7 200 Detroit Rasmus Bodin LW SWE 6"6 207 SWE

Dallas Stars 2011

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
1 14 Dallas Jamie Oleksiak D CAN 6"7 241 H-EAST
2 44 Dallas Brett Ritchie RW CAN 6"3 209 OHL
4 105 Dallas Emil Molin C SWE 6"0 170 SWE-JR
5 135 Dallas Troy Vance D USA 6"6 200 QMJHL
6 165 Dallas Matej Stransky RW CZE 6"3 193 WHL
7 195 Dallas Jyrki Jokipakka D FIN 6"3 191 FIN

Detroit Red Wings 2011

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
2 35 Detroit Tomas Jurco RW SVK 6"1 191 QMJHL
2 48 Detroit Xavier Ouellet D FRA 6"0 179 QMJHL
2 55 Detroit Ryan Sproul D CAN 6"3 185 OHL
3 85 Detroit Alan Quine C CAN 5"11 184 OHL
4 115 Detroit Marek Tvrdon RW SVK 6"2 210 WHL
5 145 Detroit Philippe Hudon C/RW CAN 6"0 197 HIGH-CT
5 146 Detroit Mattias Backman D SWE 6"2 169 SWE-JR
6 175 Detroit Richard Nedomiel D CZE 6"4 204 WHL
7 205 Detroit Alexei Marchenko D RUS 6"2 183 RUS

Dallas Stars 2010

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
1 11 Dallas Jack Campbell G USA 6"3 175 USHL
2 41 Dallas Patrik Nemeth D SWE 6"3 201 SWE-JR
3 77 Dallas Alexander Guptill LW CAN 6"3 175 CCHA
4 109 Dallas Alex Theriau D CAN 6"2 189 WHL
5 131 Dallas John Klingberg D SWE 6"0 158 SWE-JR

Detroit Red Wings 2010

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
1 21 Detroit Riley Sheahan C CAN 6"2 202 CCHA
2 51 Detroit Calle Jarnkrok C SWE 5"11 156 SWE
3 81 Detroit Louis-Marc Aubry C CAN 6"3 186 QMJHL
4 111 Detroit Teemu Pulkkinen LW FIN 5"11 183 FIN
5 141 Detroit Petr Mrazek G CZE 6"0 162 OHL
6 171 Detroit Brooks Macek C CAN 5"11 180 WHL
7 201 Detroit Ben Marshall D USA 5"9 160 HIGH-MN

Dallas Stars 2009

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
1 8 Dallas Scott Glennie RW CAN 6"1 185 WHL
2 38 Dallas Alex Chiasson RW CAN 6"4 187 USHL
3 69 Dallas Reilly Smith RW CAN 6"0 157 OJHL
5 129 Dallas Tomas Vincour C CZE 6"2 199 WHL
6 159 Dallas Curtis McKenzie LW CAN 6"2 192 BCHL

Detroit Red Wings 2009

Round Pick Team Player Position Country Height Weight Amateur League
2 32 Detroit Landon Ferraro C CAN 5"11 165 WHL
2 60 Detroit Tomas Tatar C SVK 5"11 176 SVK
3 75 Detroit Andrej Nestrasil C CZE 6"2 200 QMJHL
3 90 Detroit Gleason Fournier D CAN 6"0 176 QMJHL
5 150 Detroit Nick Jensen D USA 6"1 187 USHL
6 180 Detroit Mitch Callahan RW USA 5"11 175 WHL
7 210 Detroit Adam Almquist D SWE 5"10 169 SWE-JR

Analysis

The Stars have shifted towards drafting big players, in particular those over 6-0. In the past four years the Stars have drafted only one player below 6-0 -- Gemel Smith in 2012. That's one player out of 25 picks that has been smaller than 6-0. In comparison, the Red Wings have selected nine players in the same four drafts who were below 6-0 out of 29 picks. Will the Stars be willing to go below that 6-0 limit if Jim Nill calls the shots? For a super talented, but small, forward then yes I think they would.

Its obvious looking through the the Red Wings drafting history that their reputation with drafting European players is well deserved. Just under half of their picks, 14, have been of European players, though only 7 were drafted from European leagues. 11 of the Stars 25 picks have been European players with 7 of those being drafted out of European leagues. It's not really a huge difference so over the long term it's unlikely that the Stars will suddenly draft more European players. In this draft it's a possibility because of the strength of European prospects, in particular from Sweden, that is available in this draft class.

One interesting thing to note is that, unlike the Stars, the Red Wings have drafted a reasonable number of players who are Slovakian. Will the Stars pick a Slovakian this time round or in the future? If Nill has had a good experience with Slovak players its a possibility that there will be a shift towards this region in Europe alongside the Stars already strong presence in Finland and Sweden. One Slovak to keep an eye out as the draft progresses is centre Marko Dano.

One group, which is probably less represented than stereotypically thought, is Russians. The Red Wings have drafted the same number of Russians as the Stars have in the past four years so there is unlikely going to be a surge of Russian prospects heading to the Lone Star State.

When it comes to North American leagues there are two obvious major differences. Firstly the Dallas Stars are known for drafting out of the CJHL, the second tier of Canadian Junior Hockey. They have drafted players such as Jamie Benn and Reilly Smith out of these leagues. In the past four years these have been utilised only once by the Red Wings. While I hope, considering the talent the Stars have got out of the CJHL, they continued to use this resource it's possible that Nill's own vision of the direction of the Stars organisation might shift them away from this league.

In complete opposite to Stars philosophy in the past four years the Red Wings have drafted a reasonable amount out of the QMJHL, 6 players compared to the Stars one. Considering the depth that the QMJHL has in this draft class it wouldn't surprise me if they drafted a player or two out of the QMJHL but as time progresses the Stars could become more QMJHL focused and shift away from the WHL. The WHL is another league in which the Red Wings have not drafted much from in the past four years.

Will they continue to 'shotgun' draft organisational weaknesses or will they focus solely upon the best player available? If Les Jackson is the architect of this particular strategy I can see it remaining in place. Whether this is a good thing or not depends upon your opinion of the philosophy and principle of shotgun drafting.

This is simply speculation on my part and its quite possible that the drafting tendencies of the Stars stay the same. I find it unlikely, however, simply because that as the new general manager Jim Nill is going to want to stamp his own brand upon the Stars and staying with the same draft and development strategy would be unlikely. If he follows the strategy that he followed while in charge of Detroit's drafting then its quite likely we will see a shift in strategy.

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