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SB Nation Mock Draft 2012: Defending Big D Selects D Morgan Rielly With No. 13 Pick

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Before we get to the Stars pick, here is how the first round shook out leading up to the No. 13 pick according to the SB Nation hockey bloggers.

  1. Oilers: Nail Yakupov
  2. Blue Jackets: Filip Forsberg
  3. Canadiens: Mikhail Grigorenko
  4. Islanders: Alex Galchenyuk
  5. Maple Leafs: Ryan Murray
  6. Ducks: Mathew Dumba
  7. Wild: Jacob Trouba
  8. Hurricanes: Teuvo Tervainen
  9. Jets: Radek Faksa
  10. Lightning: Griffin Reinhart
  11. Capitals: Zegmus Girgensons
  12. Sabres: Cody Ceci

As some expected, the top forwards in the draft all went relatively high and pushed a number of defensemen down. With the Capitals selecting Girgensons at #11, a few top defenseman suddenly found their way to the Dallas Stars with the 13th selection. Cody Ceci was snatched up by the Sabres, despite their needs at forward, and we were faced with another decision similar to what happened with the Dallas Stars in 2010.

The Stars are in desperate need of a top center -- or even a top six forward prospect -- in the system and Brendan Gaunce, Pontus Aberg and Sebastian Collberg were all available to be selected. Yet we went with what we felt was a much more obvious choice and an absurdly quick decision: draft Morgan Rielly and don't think twice about it.

Find out why after the jump.

As I wrote in our draft profile of Rielly, and as many of you said in our poll thread related to this very situation, you don't always have the chance to draft a player like Rielly in the middle of the first round. While there are some questions regarding the health of his knee after tearing his ACL last season, Rielly is perhaps the most offensively gifted defenseman in the draft and is certainly the type of player on the blue line the Stars have desperately been searching for ever since Sergei Zubov's career in Dallas started to end.

We talk all the time about power play quaterbacks and how important offense is from the blue line; the Dallas Stars have struggled with both aspects on the team the past four years. What we've seen is that finding such a player through free agency -- or even trades -- is absurdly expensive and most teams find such players through the draft, with some lucky enough to have players like Rielly fall to them.

According to our poll earlier in the week, more Stars fans would have drafted Brendan Gaunce over Rielly -- and over Collberg, Aberg and Maatta as well. It's obvious that most fans are focused on the need for a center, something that Gaunce certainly would fill and likely could step into that role as soon as this season.

The issue with Gaunce over a player like Collberg or Rielly is that his long-term potential and ceiling is nowhere near as high as the others. While he fills a need, Rielly represents the sort of player that doesn't come along too often, especially with the 13th pick in the draft. While the concerns about the health of his knee are valid, at some point you have to take a risk and not go for the sure thing, the good-to-decent player that will be a good player in the NHL for long time -- instead opting to take a risk on a guy that could be a very special player in the NHL for years to come.

I really like Gaunce and I especially like Pontus Aberg (he would have been my pick had Rielly been gone), but it was a ridiculously easy decision to draft Rielly in this situation.