After months of anticipation, preparation, and speculation, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone.
It was a whirlwind weekend that happened seemingly in a flash, and with the dust still settling now comes the time to step back and take a closer look at what transpired.
As Taylor wrote the other day, defencemen were the name of the game for Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars this year, with a whopping seven out of the nine picks being blueliners. One center/wing hybrid and one goalie rounded out the group.
Dallas' first round selection, Julius Honka, taken 14th overall, is the clear head of this year's draft class for the Stars. Brandon already went into more detail about that pick, as can be found here.
But just who are the rest of the players in that group, and what can Stars fans reasonably expect out of them?
Honestly, that's a very good question. Some of the players chosen were scouted and written about heavily, while others came completely out of left field. And there's still that undeniable truth that no matter how good a player is now, there is still no way of knowing for sure whether they will have a future in the NHL.
That being said, bonafide NHLers can be found in all seven rounds of the draft, and all nine players taken this weekend will be closely watched and groomed and developed by the Stars over time to get them as close to the NHL level as possible. That alone makes them worth keeping an eye on.
Let's now take a look at the players chosen in rounds 2-7:
C/LW Brett Pollock - 2nd round, 45th overall
A safe, smart pick, but one that could still end up being very lucrative for the Stars. There is a lot to like about Pollock: good size at 6'2", good hands and finishing ability in traffic, and the versatility to effectively play not just different forward positions, but also different styles of offense, namely run-and-gun and cycle. Was well-regarded and highly ranked in most scouting reports.
Also interesting, however, is that Pollock is already a WHL Champion and a Memorial Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oil Kings. When the Texas Stars won the Calder Cup there was a lot of talk about how much winning an AHL championship can boost a prospect's development, and the same is true for junior hockey. He had a great team around him, but also carried his own weight, with 11 goals in 20 WHL playoff games.
Pollock posted a respectable 55 points in the regular season, but expect that number to go up as he plays more minutes for Edmonton next year. Will likely spend a lot of time playing alongside Ottawa Senators 2013 first round pick Curtis Lazar, especially on the powerplay.
He's still at least two years away from the pro leagues, but there is a lot to like. If Pollock continues to develop on schedule then an eventual Top 6 spot is a reasonable expectation.
D Alex Peters - 3rd round, 75th overall
A big stay-at-home blueliner with strong defensive awareness and decent mobility, Peters certainly has some interesting tools in the box. However, his limitations must be taken into account: he doesn't use his size to punish opponents, and he doesn't have much offensive upside.
People will be quick to use his size and lack of physical edge to compare him to Jamie Oleksiak, but one scouting comparison I read that really stuck out to me was Marc Staal. Now, that's a very lofty comparison to make since Staal is an excellent player, but Peters does have a similar frame and plays a very similar style of hockey. Has "pro" written all over his game.
He played on a struggling Plymouth Whalers team, but held his own a lot better than most of his teammates did. Will be a big part of that team going forward, with tough shutdown minutes and plenty of penalty kill time.
Peters bounced up and down the rankings in various scouting reports, but 75th overall was around average, although some places had him a lot higher. A solid, sensible pick for the third round, and one that could have a surprising amount of upside (second pairing perhaps) if he continues to develop well.
D Michael Prapavessis - 4th round, 105th overall
Oh boy. Now this is going to be an interesting pick to really keep an eye on.
Prapavessis is a smooth defenceman that leans towards the offensive side of the game. Scouts unanimously praise his hockey sense as excellent, and he uses that, along with great puck skills, to act as a successful powerplay quarterback.
Here's where it gets interesting: his 54 points in 47 games are ridiculous numbers for a defenceman of his age in the OJHL (a very good league one step below the OHL). In a league full of 19 and 20 year-olds, Prapavessis was named the OJHL defenceman of the year as a 17-18 year-old, which is very impressive.
While the OJHL isn't as strong of a junior league, the Stars and their scouts have a lot of success drafting from there: Reilly Smith, Alex Guptill and Devin Shore were all drafted out of the OJHL. That's a pretty good track record.
While committed currently to the NCAA, Prapavessis' CHL rights are owned by the perennial powerhouse London Knights. If he goes to London he is going to be playing for a team that also has championship aspirations and could go on more deep playoff runs.
There is certainly a risk factor with this pick, and plenty of development time is needed, but Prapavessis has a ton of potential. It's a long shot, but I wouldn't be surprised if, four or five years down the road, Prapavessis turns out to be the best player that Dallas got from this draft.
G Brent Moran - 4th round, 115th overall
Widely considered one of the top goaltenders in the draft, Moran escaped the run of goalies taken in the second round and nicely fell to the Stars in the fourth.
Big and toolsy, Moran is a worthwhile goaltending project for the Stars. He already has a solid frame and good athleticism, and with Jack Campbell and Philippe Desrosiers ahead of him in the system, he will have ample time to develop and refine the fundamentals of the position. His .891 save percentage last season was more indicative of the bad defensive team in front of him than it was of his skills.
Will be the #1 goalie for the OHL's Niagara IceDogs next season, and is also already on Hockey Canada's radar, having served as the third string for them at the world U18 tournament.
D Miro Karjalainen - 5th round, 135th overall
This one is a vey tough read.
I, and possibly many NHL teams, never heard this name before until it was called in the 5th round on Saturday. Karjalainen didn't make an appearance in any draft guides, and both Huw and I expressed confusion on Twitter about just who this player is. What is known is that his size is great (6'5"), he likes to use it, and he is a right-handed shot.
Considering Karjalainen did not play in even the top U20 league in Finland last season makes me initially apprehensive about this pick, especially since there were still highly-regarded prospects on the board. I can't help but be reminded of Matej Paulovic. However, trust must be placed in Dallas' European scouts that there is some real potential there.
And, who knows, maybe the Stars still have some 5th round magic up their sleeves...
D Aaron Haydon - 6th round, 154th overall
A throwback to the classic days of the NHL, Haydon is a big, nasty, stay-at-home defenceman that loves a big hit and isn't afraid to chuck some knuckles. Great size and was used a lot on the penalty kill for the OHL's Niagara, where he was teammates with the goaltender Moran. On the flip side of the coin, there are concerns about his defensive awareness and handling of the puck.
Haydon was, notably, ranked as high as the Top 60 in a couple draft guides, so selecting him at 154th is a worthwhile gamble, especially since the Stars don't really have a lot of nastiness in the prospect system. Will get plenty of playing time in the OHL to round out his game. NHL potential beyond a 6th/7th depth defender is a long shot, though.
Dallas received this pick in exchange for Lane MacDermid, so I guess it is kind of fitting that they took a similar player?
D John Nyberg - 6th round, 165 overall
Similar to Karjalainen, Nyberg was a draft day unknown, playing only 19 games in Sweden's top U20 league last year.
Not much has been written about him, so any kind of analysis is tricky. The European scouts must have seen something that they likes. As a European player, however, at least Nyberg will be given plenty of time to develop with no real rush to bring him to North America.
D Patrick Sanvido - 7th round, 195th overall
Finishing up the group is Sanvido, another mammoth defenceman, standing 6'6". Much like Haydon, Sanvido loves to play physically to eliminate and intimidate oppossing players, but there are serious questions about his actual defending skills, as well as his skating and play with the puck, which make him a longterm project to groom into an NHL defenceman.
His team, the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, are young and developing, so at least Sanvido should get lots of playing time in hockey's best development league, which is something.