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Defending Big D's Dallas Stars Prospect Rankings: March 2015 Edition

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With John Klingberg graduated from prospect status, who will take over the reigns at number one?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With time running out on the Dallas Stars' playoff hopes, the discussions about the impending NHL Entry Draft, and who the Stars might pick, have started heating up.

But hey, why not take a break from that and talk instead about the young up-and-coming players that are already in the Stars' system with another new edition of the Defending Big D Dallas Stars Prospect Rankings!

Compiled once again by Huw Wales and Derek Neumeier, the last edition of these rankings came back in December, so a lot of hockey has been played between then and now.

For consistency, we are using the same definition of "prospect" that we used before: "Any player who played fewer than 25 NHL games last season, or fewer than 50 NHL games overall, is considered a prospect -- the upper limit on the age cutoff is 26 years old."

Graduated from prospect status since last rankings: John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak.

Please note that these rankings are based off of a player's potential NHL ceiling, not who is the closest to NHL duty. These potential NHL ceilings are evaluated based on each player's cumulative careers up to this point, which explains why, for example, someone that was great last year but is struggling right now might be ranked higher than someone that is having an unexpected breakout season.

Without further ado, here now are the 20-player rankings, which also showcase each player's previous position on the list, their ages, and a brief explanation outlining why they're listed where they are:

Rank Prev Rank Player Age Explanation
1 3 Brett Ritchie 21 Big, strong as a bull, and possessing an excellent knack for scoring goals, Ritchie is a dangerous offensive weapon in the making. He's already seen some time on the Stars' top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn and should be a fixture in the team's Top 6 for years to come
2 7 Julius Honka 19 It's been a bumpy ride at times this season, but Honka's continuous adjustment to the AHL as an 18/19 year old is very impressive. He's still a very raw player, but his smooth puck skills and high hockey IQ will eventually translate into much NHL success. Looked great at WJCs
3 8 Jason Dickinson 19 With 46 points in his last 31 games, Dickinson looks like he'll be ending his OHL career with a bang. A tremendous skater that plays all 200 feet of the rink, his versatility will make him a very valuable player next year for the Texas Stars
4 6 Devin Shore 20 Despite a slow start to his year and a sub-par roster around him, Shore stuck with it and put together an overall impressive NCAA season, leading his team with 35 points in 39 games. Will soon be joining Texas for their playoff push before becoming a full-time member next year
5 10 Esa Lindell 20 Lindell's breakout season just keeps getting better and better. Among all defensemen in Finland's top league he is currently tied for 1st in points and for 3rd in average ice time, which is incredible for a 20 year-old. Excellent blend of size and skill at both ends of the ice
6 5 Patrick Nemeth 23 Nemeth missed the majority of the season with a scary arm laceration but has continued right where he left off since coming back. As one of the few players on the Stars blueline with size and physicality he'll be given plenty of chances to play a large role going forward
7 9 Cole Ully 20 If you had to use only two words to describe Ully those words would be "consistently good." His 84 points in 63 WHL games are 6th most in the WHL and he has 15 more points than his closest teammate. Could really break out in a new environment with better linemates
8 2 Jack Campbell 23 It's been a season that Campbell would like to forget. After posting a .942 save percentage last year he's dropped to a .888 right now, albeit after fighting through injuries early on. Which season is more indicative of his true skill and potential?
9 14 Remi Elie 19 After averaging around a point-per-game the last two seasons Elie's scoring has exploded after being traded to the OHL's Erie Otters. Now, playing with Connor McDavid will help anyone's game, but Elie has still been carrying his weight thanks to great skating and a nose for the net
10 13 Philippe Desrosiers 19 His numbers are a little down from where they were last season, but Desrosiers still remains one of the most talented goalies in the QMJHL. His Rimouski Oceanic team is first in the league and seems primed to make a strong push for this year's Memorial Cup
11 15 Brett Pollock 18 The Edmonton Oil Kings lost a lot of veteran players from last year's championship team, but 18 year-old Brett Pollock has stepped up admirably and taken on a huge role. The 6'3" forward leads his squad with 31 goals and 60 points in 65 games. Fantastic release and cycle game
12 11 Niklas Hansson 20 Hansson started the season on fire but eventually slowed down as things moved along. However, that kind of inconsistency isn't all that uncommon for a young player in a men's league. Will need more time in Sweden to iron out his game but his skating and puck skills are top notch
13 20 Brendan Ranford 22 Ranford is the perfect example of how much hard work and patience can pay off. A 7th round pick that was never signed by his draft team, Ranford is the second highest scorer for Texas with 37 points in 54 games and was rewarded with his first NHL appearance earlier this season
14 12 Curtis McKenzie 24 The big offensive numbers have yet to follow him from the AHL to the NHL, and maybe never will, but McKenzie certainly looks like he belongs in Dallas. A big body that can hit and scrap without being a defensive liability, he could develop into an ideal Bottom 6 forward
15 NR Mattias Backman 22 Backman didn't quite make the jump to North America earlier this season but has been thriving ever since returning to Sweden. His 17 points in 25 games are a small sample size but that's still the third highest point-per-game average among all SHL defensemen
16 16 Jyrki Jokipakka 23 What he lacks in flash he more than makes up for in steadiness. There have still been some rookie hiccups for Jokipakka in Dallas this season but they're becoming fewer and fewer. Isn't noticed much when he's on the ice, however, for a defender that's usually a good thing
17 17 Radek Faksa 21 Faksa struggled to start the year but was turning things around, including getting some time on the Texas Stars' top line, before a shoulder injury ended his season at 32 games. Still has the size and defensive instincts to be a shutdown center in the NHL but needs more time to get there
18 NR Mattias Janmark 22 Despite being something of a mystery since coming to the Stars' organization after a trade deadline deal, Janmark seems to have some real potential. His point totals are solid for a player his age in the SHL and scouts rave about his on-ice work ethic. Could be a player to watch out for
19 NR Gemel Smith 20 There's really something to be said about a player that can step up when his team needs him. Smith started the season as a depth player for Texas but jumped to the top two lines after injuries and call-ups hit and he made big contributions. Been a very pleasant surprise this year
20 18 Ludwig Bystrom 20 For better or for worse, Bystrom is the same player that he's always been: a smaller defender that moves the puck well but isn't a big offensive contributor. Hasn't made huge strides in the SHL so it will be interesting to see what he can do with a change in scenery