2013 Dallas Stars Organizational Prospect Rankings: Valeri Nichushkin, Jamie Oleksiak Lead Impressive Top 20

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars developmental system continues to add skill each year; time to take a look at our latest prospect rankings for the summer.

We are proud to present Defending Big D's prospect rankings for the Dallas Stars for 2013, as we continue to somewhat mold our coverage of the developmental system for the organization. We'll be releasing organizational rankings a bit less frequently than before, with the goal of making these rankings a bit less arbitrary and as objective as possible.

These are the consensus rankings the DBD prospect experts have come to, as we've also shifted our definition of what we consider to be a prospect in this system. Any player who has played fewer than 25 NHL games last season, or fewer than 50 NHL games overall is considered a prospect -- the upper limit on the age cutoff is now 26 years old. This is the same formula that Corey Pronman uses, and we felt that gave us a good base to objective determine which players are actually prospects and who have graduated out of this ranking.

While we've done our best to be as objective as possible, these are still arbitrary rankings based on personal preference and viewpoints. What was incredibly tough was determining the rankings from No. 7 or so to No. 16 -- anyone in that range can probably be moved up and down with ease.

What's clear is that the skill level of these prospects have increased substantially in recent years; this is a system that continues to look better and better each season.

Rank Player Age Level Reasoning
1. Valeri Nichushkin, RW 18 NHL Nichushkin comes to the Stars as the first truly elite-level offensive draft pick in nearly two decades. A dynamic power forward with exceptional puck handling and skating ability, Nichushkin will make the immediate jump to the NHL and is already considered a favorite to contend for the Calder Trophy in 2013-14. Expectations will be sky high for this Russian phenom, so it's important to remember the adjustments being made as he transitions to N. America.
2. Jamie Oleksiak, D 20 AHL Oleksiak's NHL debut last season wasn't as spectacular as most were hoping it would be, as the rookie defenseman played safe and seemed wary of making mistakes. In the AHL, however, the towering defenseman was a force to be reckoned with, showing developing offensive skills to go along with superb defensive play in his own end -- which included a rise in his physical play as well.
3. Brett Ritchie, RW 20 AHL The Stars have a number of skilled power forwards in the system, and Ritchie could turn into the very best. After two inconsistent seasons, Ritchie put himself on the map with a big year in the OHL and showcased the ability to completely dominate games against top competition. A rare combination of size and sniper-level skill, Ritchie's ceiling only continues to rise. Many with the Stars feel that Ritchie is the best prospect in the system and he'll be in the NHL sooner than later after making the late transition to the AHL last year.
4. Alex Chiasson, RW 22 NHL Chiasson became an instant fan favorite with his outburst of scoring to end the season, but it's his skill in other areas of the ice that makes him such a valuable prospect. Almost certainly a lock for a top-six winger position for the Stars this season, Chiasson has great size, grit and the hockey smarts to play effectively at both ends of the ice.
5. Jason Dickinson, C/RW 18 OHL Dickinson was a bit of a surprising pick for fans at the tail end of the first round, but it's quickly become clear what sort of potential the Stars found in a deep draft. A highly skilled and versatile forward, Dickinson projects as a playmaking center with tremendous skating ability and good size. Already very strong on the puck, Dickinson is focused on adding weight and strength to what is already a very impressive set of hockey tools.
6. Jack Campbell, G 21 AHL This is the season Campbell is really expected to step up. After a bit of a slow start last year, Campbell really started to mature between the pipes for the Texas Stars. He'll have to earn the top spot in Austin, however, and he'll be expected to do so against veteran Cristopher Nilstorp. A tough task, but one that he'll have to prove capable of as he inches closer to the NHL.
7. Radek Faksa, C 19 OHL Faksa is headed back to the OHL this season after a brief stint with Texas at the end of last season. Injuries and illness railroaded a tough season last year for the center, who has seen his stock fall considerably after the 2012 draft. He was impressive at development camp, however, and a rebound year from him could renew faith in his ability to become an effective center for the Dallas Stars not too far down the road.
8. Patrik Nemeth, D 21 AHL Nemeth is the Richard Matvichuk of the Stars' current development system -- a large, physical shutdown defenseman who can play the perfect compliment to a No. 1 guy on the top pairing. Concussion issues plagued him last season but when he was on the ice, teams could not score. Those that watched him with Texas last season feel he's incredibly underrated and is the type of defensive blueliner the Dallas Stars will be needing very soon.
9. Matej Stransky, RW 20 AHL After two monster seasons with Saskatoon, Stransky will be making the jump to the AHL this season. There's a fear that in the WHL he was only truly effective against weak competition, especially after being a non-factor in four playoff games for the Blades. He'll have the chance to really prove himself this season with Texas, however.
10. Alex Guptill, LW 21 NCAA A bit of a forgotten prospect at times, this sizable left winger followed up a tremendous freshman season with a bit of a down-year in 2012-13, despite the higher point total. He'll be taking on a larger role this next season with Michigan and will be expected to be more of a leader than in the past. Great skill, good size and great strength still make him the most promising LW prospect in the system.
11. Devin Shore, C 19 NCAA Shore was impressive his freshman year with Maine, stepping into the No. 1 center role and outright shining at times. There are many who feel that Shore is the most underrated prospect in the system, a highly skilled center with very good size and excellent playmaking skills. He's on the long track to the NHL, however, and will likely follow a similar path as Chiasson to Dallas.
12. Scott Glennie, C/RW 22 AHL Glennie, for various reasons, remains a pariah for Stars fans amongst the rest of the prospects. Working with Willie Desjardins last season seemed to do wonders for Glennie, however, as he became an incredibly effective checking line center and it's clear the Stars are very encouraged by his progress. Don't be surprised if he's one of the first callups this next season.
13. Kevin Connauton, D 23 NHL Connauton is now under a ton of pressure, having received a vote of confidence right away from GM Jim Nill and who will be expected to play in the NHL this season. A skilled offensive d-man, Connauton's ability to be effective at the NHL level is unknown, although he was certainly impressive during the postseason for the Texas Stars.
14. Philippe Desrosiers, G 17 QMJHL There's a good chance that these rankings next summer have Desrosiers in the top ten, and likely close to the top five. A very young, raw goaltender who made a name for himself in the U-18's for Canada, Desrosiers has the attitude and personality to go along with his highly athletic and effective play between the pipes.
15. Mike Winther, C 19 WHL Winther had a bit of a down year last season for the Prince Albert Raiders, although he remains a promising young center prospect. More of a pure sniper than a playmaker, Winther will need to round out his game a bit as he steps into a larger role in his third WHL season this year.
16. Ludwig Bystrom, D 18 SHL? Bystrom is a very skilled two-way defenseman with a strong pedigree out of Sweden, but who was jerked around a bit with playing time last season. There are many who feel he's one of the most promising defensemen in the group, but just needs the opportunity to really prove it. It's all potential right now for Bystrom; this next season is a big one for the young blueliner.
17. Cameron Gaunce, D 23 AHL Gaunce came to Dallas from Colorado as part of the Vincour trade, and immediately impressed with his two-way ability and offensive upside. Paired with Connauton, the two formed a formidable duo for Texas. Gaunce is likely next in line for a callup to Dallas, but the pack is crowded ahead of him. He'll have more than ample opportunity to really prove himself with a good team this next season.
18. Emil Molin, C 20 SHL Molin suffered the same fate as Bystrom did last season, although he was certainly impressive with a strong international tournament performance in the U-20 for Sweden. Playing between center and wing, Molin is a versatile defensive forward with good offensive skill. I think we don't quite know what we have with Molin at this point, although he's more than stood out against the other prospects at dev. camp the past two years.
19. Curtis McKenzie, LW 22 AHL Don't be surprised if McKenzie shows up on the ice for Dallas this season. The Stars love his combination of size and skill around the net and he projects to be the sort of bottom-six grinding forward that the good teams always want on their roster.
20. Remi Elie, LW 18 OHL Elie seems to be the next Steve Ott type of player the Stars always seem to like; a gritty and antagonistic forward with decent skill. Buried on the deepest team in the CHL last season, Elie will be stepping into a larger role this season and we'll be interested to see how his production fares with the jump.
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