I know that many of you may feel it is still far too early to be thinking about the NHL draft, especially considering the lack of movement in CBA negotiations. But as a self confessed prospect and draft geek I have been following closely the fortunes of numerous prospects across the world. The junior season has been progressing for a couple of weeks now and I feel it's a good time to start pointing out interesting prospects, not necessarily those who many have heard of, so those who are interested can keep on an eye on them as well.
Not only have I been keeping track of many of those who are draft eligible I have also been singling out those who I believe will be on the Stars radar as the season progresses. By using what we have learnt from previous drafts it's possible to develop a rough idea of what the draft tendencies of the Dallas Stars are. In fact, in early July I wrote this article examining what we had learnt from the previous draft.
In essence there are some nearly constant features of Dallas Stars picks which I will list below:
Firstly, they tend to be big, at least bordering 6-0 or bigger. Only one player in the last draft was less than 6-0, Gemel Smith (who plays bigger than his 5-10 frame) and in the previous three drafts (2011-2009) the Stars picked no one smaller than 6-0.
Secondly the Stars have developed what I call a ‘Shot Gun' technique when it comes to the draft. They identify an organisational weakness or something they would like more of and pick a lot of it. In 2009 when there were few right wingers nearly all the picks were right wingers. Similarly in 2012 the Stars needed centres and picked four players who had played at centre.
The Stars like players from the WHL, the OHL, Finland and Sweden -- in particular -- but they also normally pick a player heading to the NCAA. The QMJHL is normally left well alone by the Stars.
So using this information, who do I think the Stars are looking at and watching carefully over this season? These won't be scouting reports but merely a list of players from different leagues who I think the Stars would watch.
First, the WHL. There are lots of good players coming out of the WHL this year, something good for the Stars who really, really like their WHL players. Defensemen like Eric Roy, Ryan Pulock, Seth Jones and Josh Morrissey are likely first round picks but other defensemen like Dillon Heatherington, Mason Geertsen and Mirco Mueller, who are likely to go later, might catch the eyes of the Stars.
Beyond the first round forwards of Curtis Lazar and Hunter Shinkaruk there are other interesting forwards, though they tend to be smaller than the 6-0 that the Stars normally aim for. Forwards such as Nicholas Petan, Oliver Bjorkstand and Morgan Klimchuk.
The OHL have the big forwards this year with several of them catching my eye, in particular Stephan Harper, Jason Dickinson, Ryan Kujawinski, Brent Pederson, Bo Horvat, Sean Monahan, Zach Natsasiuk, Jordan Maletta and Kerby Rychel. Defenseman such as Jordan Subban, Nikita Zadorov, Chris Bigras and Darnell Nurse also catch the eye.
The Stars tend to avoid the QMJHL but prospects such as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathon Drouin, Adam Erne, William Carrier, Frederik Gauthier and Antony Mantha might be tempting.
In Europe there are many prospects that look like they could develop very well with several expected to be taken within the first round. I haven't included any Russians playing in Russia in this list because the Dallas Stars have drafted literally none in the past few years.
There are well known European prospects such as Elias Lindholm, Jacob De La Rose, Robert Hagg, Andre Burakovsky, Alexander (Sasha) Barkov and Rasmus Ristolainen. However there are others on the periphery who I like the look of and wouldn't be surprised to see jump up the rankings as the year progresses. Little known European prospects include Linus Arnesson, Alexander Wennberg, Markus Soberg, Robin Soderqvist, Kevin Ekman-Larrsen, Gustav Possler, Amil Krupic, Anton Cederholm, Lucas Wallmark, Saku Salminen, Arrturi Lekhonen and Atte Makinen. I have to confess I think this is an excellent crop of European players and with the Stars having drafted out of Europe reliably for years its quite possible that one might be drafted.
Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is if the entire season is cancelled. For the 2005 draft they dealt with having no season by using a lottery system for the top picks based on how many times a team has made the playoffs or had the top pick. The Stars, along with 6 other teams, would have three balls in the pool for the chance at a high pick. Using figures I picked up off a HF board on this subject, the Stars have a 28% chance of a top 5 pick, at least a 50% chance of a top 10 pick and a 71% chance of a top 15 pick. Essentially if the season is lost its reasonably likely that the Stars could be picking relatively high. For those interested the chance of getting number 1: its 6%.
I for one am quite excited about this particular draft class and think its probably quite a bit better than last years (though that does appear to be said every year). I will probably be tweeting about prospects as the season progresses so for anyone that is interested you can follow me at HuwDBD.