The big day was today (technically yesterday), and a lot went down in the draft. The free agency hasn't hit yet, but I'm just gonna do a quick snapshot on the Stars and why they could make a case for a playoff team next year.
First off, the Stars got their Elite prospect. As listed by Hockey's Future, this was a weakness of the Stars organization in the past. I can see Nichushkin as NHL ready, not just for the reason that he would go back to the KHL if not on a roster. The biggest thing? He was only 17 (a junior in CHL standards), and was playing in the professional KHL. Won KHL rookie of the year despite being 17 and despite only playing 18 games. Sure, his numbers aren't great, and it's probably one reason on why he dipped. Then you look at him in the U20 and U18, he looks like a man amongst boys. One such clip that I remember seeing is him outmatching Seth Jones, the 4th overall pick in the draft. The best part? He's going to improve. He'll grow an inch and 20 pounds.
Of course, what would his first year look like in the NHL? Not great. I'm just going to make a rare comparison to baseball in Yu Darvish. Amazing in Japan, comes to America in year 1 and turns heads but is not elite. The following year he learns from his mistakes and becomes exponentially better. I can see the same with Nichuskin. I think he can learn to pass to teammates to set up assists and I think he can improve on his shot accuracy. One he does that, I think he could be a first liner.
Which brings me to the next point. The total amount of elite players. The Stars have a franchise player in Jamie Benn, a franchise goalie in Lehtonen, if Nichuskin develops, we'll have him. Those three are locks in the organization, save Nichy (already made nicknames for the guy and he's only been in the team for 7 hours) moving back to Russia. Loui is one that could be considered one, but I would not consider him a huge lock because of the appearance of Seguin in the Stars radar. Seguin would be nice to have, but worth giving up Loui? That's something the Stars would have to decide, maybe soon. And then the Stars could get Lecavalier if they can win the lottery for him. I would consider him in there.
Also important is depth, which is what the Stars were looking at in the draft. I have to be honest, a lot of the picks save for Desrosiers left me wondering who they were, but a closer look made me realize why the Stars picked them. They are all raw talent with a ton of potential.
Stars have a good way of unlocking that potential. I mean, let's face it. Dillon was an undrafted free agent. Roussel was a 9 point/61 game player in the Blues organization, plus was undrafted. Then you account for guys like Guptill, Fraser, and some other recent callups, and it looks like the Stars like their raw talent. Then you mix in a great coaching staff in the AHL. Despite the Stars being ranked 12th in the Hockey's Future rankings, they still had the best record in their AHL conference. A lot goes to Willie and coaching.
Well, back to that depth. With the pick of Desrosiers, they now have a backup to Lehtonen AND Campbell (fixes ANOTHER weakness as listed by HF). This is also combined with huge defensive depth in Goligoski/Daley (if one is traded), Oleksiak, Morrow, Dillon, Connauton, Nemeth, and Gaunce. Oh, and Roussel, MacDermid, Chiasson, Faksa (if he develops nicely), and Richie (if he develops). And THEN you add in all of those guys the Stars got today that has a lot of potential.
There's a LOT of reasons to be excited. The Stars are set with Nill at the helm. If anything could be improved upon, it's just me preaching to the choir on it being a center. Despite it being a need, NONE were picked in the draft (save for maybe Dickinson. Lecavlier or Seguin could easily fix that in a hurry, but they might not come to Dallas. It's not too early to look ahead to the 2014 NHL draft, with 7-8 Centers available in the first round.
I'm confident that the Stars are on track to be a playoff team. Possibly as early as this year. It should be fun competing against McKinnon AND Jones in the same division. I personally can't wait.