There's been a feeling among Dallas Stars fans that the prospect pool for the Dallas Stars has taken a step forward to levels that the organisation has never seen before in its life time. It may come to many as a surprise then that Corey Pronman, who is an excellent follow on twitter for all matters prospects, has ranked the Dallas Stars' prospect pipeline as only 20th in the league.
Why you ask? Well in his ESPN insiders article this is his justification:
20. Dallas Stars
With an elite talent such as Valeri Nichushkin going straight to the NHL, plus seeing some other prospects removed from the system due to graduation or trade makes the current outlook of Dallas' pipeline quite different from a year ago. The Stars' system remains very deep, as they rank high in players who could become regular NHLers. However, the very top of their system -- Brett Ritchie and Jamie Oleksiak among others -- is decent, but not overly impressive.
So why is this the case? How can the Dallas Stars prospect system be 20th in the league despite being very deep? Well, this is where the small print comes in. How does Pronman look at the prospect pipeline?
Strength of an organizational pipeline is considered as the totality of the players they have, however, additional value is given to teams with the very best prospects. Depth is considered, but it's depth in terms of quality prospects -- players who could project as a top-nine and preferably a top-six forward, a top-four defenseman or a starting goaltender.
While the Dallas Stars prospect pool is indeed very deep (they have 19 defensive prospects) the amount of bluechip talent that hasn't already found a place in the NHL is limited. Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak, Julius Honka and I'd argue Devin Shore are good prospects but aren't the best prospects in the NHL.
While some might ask about Jack Campbell its important to remember that Pronman often places less emphasis on goaltending prospects. While most prospect's development curves are hard to predict, goaltenders are even harder to predict. Tyler Beskorowany was drafted 59th overall, he never played in an NHL game. Henrik Lundqvist was drafted 200th overall and needs no introduction. How goalie develop and arguably their worth as prospects is lower than other positions.
It's easier to find a starting goaltender than the mythical top pairing defenseman or that number one center that all teams want. Taking Jack Campbell, and Philippe Desrosiers, out of the equation the level of top level talent the Dallas Stars isn't there.
The second tier of talent has also taken a hit over the last two years. While it's still relatively intact following two big move summers those moves still hurt the prospect pool and just graduated talent even if it pushed the Stars closer to contention sooner rather than later. Reilly Smith. Alex Chiasson. Joe Morrow. Matt Fraser. Alex Guptill. Nick Paul. Most were considered to be in that second tier of talent or potential even if it was becoming very unclear if they'd ever reach it. They've now all been traded to other teams.
So what am I trying to say? The Dallas Stars have some impressive depth but not in terms of that bluechip talent. It's a problem that I wrote about back in June.
Should the Dallas Stars be happy with their prospect pool? Maybe, but I think content would be a better way to describe it. Prospects don't always work out and while the Stars have a lot of good talent it isn't all going to make the NHL and become the players we as fans hope them to be.
While some fans might say that Corey Pronman has a downer on the Dallas Stars prospect pipeline or just hasn't watched enough of them I think he has some legitimate points. The Stars bluechip prospects, not in the NHL, just don't really exist. Maybe that's too much to expect from a prospect pool but it is still factually accurate.
Brett Ritchie. Devin Shore. Jamie Oleksiak. They'll be good, but will they blow away the league as soon as they hit the ice at American Airlines Center like Valeri Nichushkin did? Probably not.
The Dallas Stars prospect pool is deep and that's a good thing. But it doesn't have any bluechip prospects and its second tier of talent have been hit through graduations and trades.
Pronman has some legitimate criticism of the Dallas Stars prospect pipeline. Would I agree its 20th? I'd say it was higher than that but that's just my opinion.