The 2012 NHL Draft is going to be a very interesting time for the Dallas Stars, especially when it comes to the strategy of just how Joe Nieuwendyk and company decide to approach the puzzle of how to gain maximum value with their first round selection. With the Stars entering the draft with the very public desire to go after a top-rated center, it's likely that some intriguing maneuvering is going to be needed if the team wishes to make a significant splash for the franchise on draft day.
The Dallas Stars currently possess the 13th pick in the draft, just about the average position the team has been in for the past two drafts -- yielding Jack Campbell (#11, 2010) and Jamie Oleksiak (#14, 2011). Joe Nieuewendyk has done a good job of addressing a dire organizational need during his time as General Manager, yet the obvious weak spot in the system for the Stars is the overall lack of true "blue chip" talent -- something that has kept the Stars in the back half of NHL prospect rankings the past few years.
The good news is this draft comes with the possibility of such a forward being available to the Dallas Stars at #13. Unfortunately, there's a very good chance the draft shakes out so that the Stars don't have a star center to choose from at that particular spot -- opening up the distinct possibility of a draft day trade.
Just what could these trade scenarios look like, and for what players should the Stars make a move? More importantly, is trading down just as valuable as the possibility of trading up and what will the price of a potential trade up be? Follow the jump to find out.
The major issue with this draft for the Dallas Stars is the drop off in talent after the top 10-12 players in the draft. Those top ten players are nearly a consensus pick at this point, although there is always a very good chance for a player to unexpectedly drop or a team to make a surprise selection in the top ten. The Dallas Stars certainly did such a thing in 2009, drafting Scott Glennie with the 8th pick in the draft.
There are only four forwards the Dallas Stars should legitimately consider trading up for in the draft this year: Mikhail Grigorenko, Alex Galchenyuk, Teuvo Teravainen or Radek Faksa. All four are consensus top-ten talents in the draft and most mocks have Grigorenko, Galchenyuk and Teravainen all going in the top six to seven picks in the draft. If all four are gone at #13, there certainly exists a possibility of the Stars selecting a decent forward -- with Brenden Gaunce, Zemgus Girgensons and Sebastian Collberg all representing decent options at that point in the draft.
The question the Stars must ask themselves is just what sort of forward they are looking to draft, and what value each kind possesses. The difference between the top four forwards in the draft and those like Gaunce, Girgensons and Collberg is that there exists a very defined drop off in just what sort of talent each player possesses and the offensive playmaking ability that could come with the top four.
Gaunce and Girgensons are both likely to turn into decent NHL players, hard-working two-way forwards capable of putting up 50+ points in a season while playing a hard-nosed defensive game as well. Very valuable players that most teams would love to have in their system and both likely needing two years or so before the NHL becomes a possibility.
The Dallas Stars, due to Joe Nieuwendyk's renewed vigor in filling the coffers of the system, already have the rights to a number of forwards that possess these exact skills. Matej Stransky, Brett Ritchie, Alex Chiasson -- even Scott Glennie -- are all big and physical forwards that play a good two-way game and will likely push for top-six minutes at some point in their NHL career. All four represent a very promising future for the Stars at the forward position, but none truly represent the "sure thing" type of prospect that sets the top organizations apart from the rest.
This is why the Stars must at least attempt to determine what the possibility would be of moving up in the draft to have a better shot at one of the top forwards in the draft -- the sort of blue chip, truly special offensive potential that none of the Stars prospects currently possess. If the price is too high or the draft shakes out in such a way so that moving up is uneconomical -- then the Stars could also weigh the value of moving down in the draft and getting better value for a forward such as Gaunce or Girgensons that wouldn't have existed at #13.
What sort of scenarios could play out on draft day, and what would the potential price of such a move be? Let's take a closer look.
*I only used the past three drafts to determine the historic value of draft day trades, as value changes over time.
Trade Up - Scenario 1: Mikhail Grigorenko or Alex Galchenyuk falls to #6
Nearly every single mock draft has both of these players gone by the fifth pick, although some have one of the two falling to the 5th or even 6th pick in the draft. Both have questions being raised leading up to the draft that has some speculation on a potential to fall, although both players should be considered to be legit top three players. Should either fall to #6, however, the Dallas Stars should instantly jump on the phone to see what it would take to get the Anaheim Ducks to give up that pick.
The problem with this scenario is that the Toronto Maple Leafs sit pretty at #5 and are unlikely to want to give up the pick, even to move down to #13 and get considerable value for that pick. If either center is available, Brian Burke would be wise to snatch them up; if one is available and he trades the pick away, he might be facing a full-scale revolt by Leafs fans. Burke has done crazier things, and the possibility exists that one of the two could slip by.
The price: If one of Grigorenko or Galchenyuk falls to #6, the Stars won't be the only team to attempt to get that pick from Anaheim. Unfortunately, there doesn't exist true precedent for a draft day trade to move up into the top six -- at least in the past three years.
The New York Islanders came close, however. Originally possessing the #26 pick in 2009, the Islanders traded their first (#26), second (#37), third (#62) and fourth (#92) for the Jackets first (#16) and third (#77). The Islanders weren't finished, however, trading #16, #77 and #181 for the #12 pick in the draft. Essentially, the Islanders gave up a second, third, fourth and seventh to move from #26 to #12 in the draft.
Value: Good - If the Stars do indeed decide to go after either Grigorenko or Galchenyuk the price could be considerable to move up that far. The trade could include a combination of draft picks and current players, with Tomas Vincour and several prospects representing considerable value in such a move. Both players represent the type of forward the Stars desperately need, however, and could be in the NHL much sooner than other forwards in the draft.
Trade Up - Scenario 2: Teuvo Teravainen or Radek Faksa is available at #10.
The Stars would likely not be willing to move up that far if the price were too steep and could instead set their sites on Faksa or Teravainen, two very talented forwards that could slip to #10 and a bit beyond. The issue for the Stars is that Buffalo selects at #12 and has nearly the exact same need as the Stars for a top forward and could hinder the Stars from having a shot at either player.
The price: Moving from #13 to #10, or even the 11th pick in the draft, is likely to cost just a second round draft pick and perhaps a fourth or fifth. The Kings moved from #19 to #15 in 2010 by giving up just one second round pick in that same draft. The Stars posses an extra 2nd rounder, and could be willing to part with the extra pick if it means a definite shot at either forward -- and will likely be willing to part with a fourth rounder as well to pad the price.
Value: High - Faksa represents the exact sort of center the Stars would love to have in the system and could be NHL ready out of training camp. Giving up an extra second rounder and perhaps a prospect to move up 3-4 slots would be more than worthwhile for a team desperate for a playmaking center.
Stay Put - Scenario 3: A run at forwards has dropped defensemen in the draft
There's little doubt that this is a defense-heavy first round, with most of the top 15 players in the draft all spending their time on the blue line. The reason the Stars could have a shot at some of the top forwards is if most teams take advantage of the talent at the defensive position, passing over some of the forwards the Stars desperately need. Yet there is also the chance that players such as Gaunce, Girgensons and even Collberg could go higher than anticipated and the Stars find themselves facing a choice of whether to take another defenseman in the first round.
There's little doubt that the Stars desperately need forwards but if a top defenseman in the draft falls, best-player-available certainly becomes your favorite mantra. Some drafts have players such as Griffin Reinhart, Cody Ceci and Olli Maatta all available at #13 and despite the team's organizational needs, Nieuwendyk would be hard-pressed to pass on such players. This is nearly identical to what happened in 2010, and the Stars opted to draft Jack Campbell.
Value: Good - The Stars are not a team that can afford to overlook quality defenseman just because there's a dire need at center and wing. If a defenseman such as Maatta, Ceci or even Trouba is available -- however unlikely -- then the Stars would be fools to overlook such a selection.
Stay Put - Scenario 4: A run on defenseman leaves Faksa, Teravainen exposed
This is another distinct possibility, as the high-end quality of defensemen could leave teams overlooking forwards such as Teravainen and Faksa. If the Hurricanes, Jets, Lightning and Capitals all go defenseman, then Buffalo and Dallas could have found both forwards fall into their lap. Of course, the Stars could decide to have their pick and attempt to entice the Capitals with an extra second to jump Buffalo but with both players available the Stars could find considerable value in staying put and just letting the draft come to them.
Value: Very high - Being able to get Faksa or Teravainen without giving up extra picks? That's the absolute best-case scenario the Stars could come across and one that is looking more and more likely to never have a chance at happening.
Trade Down - Scenario 5: Stars see top defenseman and forwards gone, trade down for value
Let's say that the price to move up was too steep and the draft doesn't fall exactly in favor of the Stars. With the drop off in talent after the top ten or so, and no real definitive difference between the players between 11-22 or so, the Stars could make the choice to move down out of #13 and see if they could still select a player like Gaunce later in the first round, getting better value for the pick and acquiring a extra draft picks in the later rounds.
Value: Historically low - We've covered the trials and tribulations with the Stars' adventures in trading down in the past, finding that trading down in the first or even out of the first does not make for a higher possibility of finding more talent in the draft. Despite possessing nine second-round picks between 2002 and 2004, the Stars drafted just three "star" players with those picks, not exactly making the most of the added value the Stars thought they'd receive.
If the Stars stay true to their word and target a top center or forward in this draft, their best value lies in attempting to trade up two to three slots and nab one of the top six forwards in the draft. Faksa, Teravainen and Collberg all represent the sort of elite talent the Stars are in so desperate need of, with Faksa being the best match for the Stars both in position and value. While Grigorenko or Galchenyuk would certainly be more than welcome to the Stars system, it is likely that the price to move into the top six would be too steep for a general manager who has stated he's hesitant to part with the value of draft picks and prospects he highly covets.
There are some who wish the Stars to entertain the possibility of trading down, yet that exact scenario is also what has led to the dearth of elite talent in the Stars system over the past decade or so. Aside from Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn -- neither of whom were drafted in the first round -- the Stars have to find the top-end talent that separates the great franchises from the wanting.
While it is more than possible to find elite talent later in the draft, and the Stars have shown the ability to do such a thing, history tells us that moving up in the draft gives a team the best chance at grabbing sure-fire, blue-chip talent that is almost assuredly going to help the franchise in the near future. This draft has a number of players with those qualities and likely all will be within reach of the Stars at #13, if they're willing to pay the price in order to assure the right pick gets made.
Of course, the Stars could also make a trade to grab an extra first round pick -- a trade involving current players on the NHL roster. Such trades are also possible in moving up to the top-six, and the price paid using prospects or players will certainly be steep as well. We'll further explore such a possibility in a later post.