The 2014 NHL Draft is an intriguing one on several levels, most of which don't have to do with the actual draft itself. Last year's draft was defined by a very deep and talented class in a draft that all took place on the same frenetic day; it was the first draft for Jim Nill in Dallas, Valeri Nichushkin somehow fell to No. 10 and there was just a whole other level of buildup to the actual players in that draft compared to what we've seen in 2014.
Part of that has to do with the fact this draft class is solid, but not spectacular. Last year was Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Nichushkin, Lindholm, etc -- this year's crop of players is headlined by Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart, but there aren't many players that have commanded the headlines like we saw last summer -- except for, perhaps, Josh Ho-Sang.
With the NHL instituting a free agency "discussion period" before the actual start of free agency on July 1, the intrigue over free agent signings and destinations and associated trades has overshadowed the draft a bit more than usual and we've seen that effect here at DBD with our draft coverage. This effect has carried over to the draft itself, where the picks are being discussed as trade commodities more than the actual vessel for prospect selection as they are intended.
As such, there seems to be several options for the Dallas Stars at No. 14. Let's discuss a few.
Stay at No. 14, go for the high-reward player
The Dallas Stars over the past few years have built one of the deeper prospect pools in the league, rising up the organizational rankings but still have a very few notable shortcomings in the system. Even after acquiring Nichushkin last summer (he'd wouldn't be a prospect to me now anyway) the Stars are still without that true "blue chip" and high ceiling offensive forward.
Devin Shore and Jason Dickinson are close, especially Shore, but the Stars can afford at this point to shoot for the moon and go for that high-ceiling but perhaps not-as-safe-a-pick player they might not have taken a chance on before. It's why Teuvo Teravainen was passed over, among others, in past drafts and it's bitten the Stars as we look back in hindsight.
This all depends on how the draft falls out, however, but a player like Robby Fabbri or Kevin Fiala has exactly the sort of offensive upside this system is desperately needing. No. 14 in this draft, if the Stars stay at that spot, is a best-player-available draft slot and if the Stars aren't worried about making the "safe" pick then there's a chance a really exciting young winger could join organization tonight.
Trade down, but with who?
So, there's a lot of talk about moving up or down in this draft. Should the Stars try and move up to a Top 5 spot or grab Ehlers if he slips a bit? The Stars, however, have never been one to aggressively move up and this wouldn't be the draft to do so and it doesn't appear that Nill is ready to make such a trade anyway.
What happens if Fiala or Fabbri or Fleury isn't there at No. 14? There's the option of trading down, grabbing an extra second round pick and picking up Josh Ho-Sang or someone similar later in the first round. That's a grand plan with the best of intentions, yet if those players are gone at No. 14 then why would another team be so hungry to trade up?
It's always possible that someone who want to swap a few spots, but this draft doesn't seem very conducive to teams being eager to jump up to Np. 14 just to pick a caliber of player they can probably snag at No. 20 or so anyway.
Use No. 14 in a blockbuster trade
Now, this is the one that will get the most attention. Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton are both logical targets for the Stars today and it's likely that any trade involving those players -- or even Ryan Kesler -- will likely happen today, as the return would have to be a first round draft pick.
The best option of those three is Joe Thornton, under contact past this next season and who can still play with the best in the NHL and is probably best suited to No. 2 center at this point in his career. The return for Thornton would be hefty and would have to include the 1st round pick of the Stars (or anyone else) and a hefty return of prospects. Probably looking at No. 14 overall (2014), second round pick (2015), Curtis McKenzie, Cody Payne and perhaps even a roster player to actually make the trade happen.
The sticking point to this is Thornton a) actually wanting to leave San Jose and b) agreeing to be traded to Dallas. The price tag (steep) and the actual likelihood of a trade being approved by Thornton (not likely) make this a scenario that would only play out if everything fell into place just right. Of course, no one has any clue how anything will ever actually work out:
Boston beat writer Sean Hutcheon tweeted later in the afternoon that Dallas and Tampa Bay both had approached the Bruins about young center Tyler Seguin. Seguin, who has been playing wing for Boston, is unlikely to get the opportunity to play center behind David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron (who is expected to sign a long term deal to stay in Boston.) could he be the answer the Stars need for center depth?
Take this one with a very large dose of salt - and remember these are just rumors. Mac Engel tweeted today that some sources are telling him that the Stars could be working on a "super trade" to land Seth Jones, the son of Dallas Mavericks great Popeyes Jones. The trade would reportedly include Loui Eriksson going as part of the package
Trade rumors are fun!
This should be an interesting afternoon.