The Dallas Stars developmental depth was rather scarce five years ago when Joe Nieuwendyk took over as the general manager and refocused the organization on the importance of drafting. It was by necessity and design, as the team was entering a period of financial hardship and Nieuwendyk also recognized the changing scope of the NHL -- the days of the Stars spending freely in free agency (even if the money was there) and trading away top prospects and draft picks to build a team were now well in the past.
Since that 2009 draft, and despite a few first round disappointments, the Stars have done a masterful job of not only finding quality players deep into the draft but also of creating an system that has turned Dallas into one of the better developmental organizations in the NHL. The Texas Stars, with much of the team comprised of young prospects, won the 2014 Calder Cup and the Stars have several players that are ready to make the jump to the NHL.
That depth has also allowed current GM Jim Nill to make a few aggressive trades to bring in Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, without actually sacrificing the overall quality of the prospect pool. Yet with all of the changeover of the past year, with several players graduating to different levels in the organization or developing faster or slower than expected -- who is now considered the "best" prospect for the Stars is up for debate.
Prospect ranking, just like many of the things we do with our sports teams, is a completely arbitrary exercise. Yet it's interesting to take a step back and see the overall developmental system that is in place and consider which player is at the top of that hierarchy -- who has the most potential, the highest ceiling and can be expected and hoped to make a major impact in the future for the Stars?
It's an interesting debate, and we look forward to seeing what DBD community thinks.
We'll have our own post-draft rankings soon.