Choices, choices, choices.
It's the same dilemma that each NHL team faces every draft: with hundreds upon hundreds of prospects, spread out across multiple countries and leagues, to choose from, just who the heck do you pick?
Every team has a different approach. Some like to target certain types of players. Other focus the majority of their scouting attention on specific feeder leagues.
For the Dallas Stars, under both former general manager Joe Nieuwendyk and current one Jim Nill, the organization's approach appears to be centered around depth and balance (Nill made a run on defensemen last draft, but selected a variety of styles from a variety of leagues). The team has a bountiful, talented prospect pool without any glaring weaknesses, and over the past two years has already seen a number of youngsters ascend up to the NHL level.
With that being said, are there any positions, or types of players in particular, that the team will need to target in this upcoming draft to ensure that the aforementioned depth and balance stay intact?
To help answer this question I've created the organizational future depth chart below. I initially borrowed the idea from the handy charts that are available over at Hockey's Future, but expanded upon them to include all players that are 25 years old or younger and already playing for the Stars, such as Valeri Nichushkin and John Klingberg. I've sorted the list by my interpretation of NHL-readiness.
|Center||Left Wing||Right Wing||Defense||Goalie|
|Tyler Seguin||Jamie Benn||Valeri Nichushkin||John Klingberg||Jack Campbell|
|Cody Eakin||Antoine Roussel||Brett Ritchie||Patrik Nemeth||Philippe Desrosiers|
|Radek Faksa||Curtis McKenzie||Scott Glennie||Jyrki Jokipakka||Henri Kiviaho|
|Justin Dowling||Brendan Ranford||Matej Stransky||Jamie Oleksiak||Maxime Lagace|
|Devin Shore||Remi Elie||Branden Troock||Esa Lindell||Brent Moran|
|Mattias Janmark||Cole Ully||Matej Paulovic||Mattias Backman|
|Jason Dickinson||Brett Pollock||Julius Honka|
|Gemel Smith||Ludwig Karlsson||Ludwig Bystrom|
|Taylor Peters||Emil Molin||Dmitry Sinitsyn|
Notes and Observations
- The most obvious thing that stands out from the chart is Dallas' lack of depth on the right wing. Nichushkin and Ritchie have plenty of very promising years ahead of them, and Brendan Ranford can play there as well as the left wing, but everyone else is far from a lock to become an NHL regular. This includes Scott Glennie, who is an RFA heading into this summer and needing a new contract. The Stars would be wise to draft one or two more right wingers at some point just to solidify the position.
- Dallas has an absolute stockpile of nimble, puck-moving defensemen, with Klingberg, Honka, Backman, Bystrom and Hansson. Prapavessis is a dark horse candidate to join this upper tier group. That being said, the position could use one more big shutdown defender. 3rd rounder Alex Peters has potential but only played eight games last season due to injury, while Vance, Haydon, Sanvido and Karjalainen are long shots at this point.
- Desrosiers was named CHL Goalie Of The Year this season, which is quite an impressive feat, but Campbell still suffers from bouts of inconsistency and can't seem to eliminate all the question marks from his game. Moran is interesting as a 4th rounder, but didn't seem to take a step forward this season compared to last. As Huw wrote about on Monday, the Stars should look to the European leagues in the later rounds to find a goalie that can be safely developed overseas for a few years.
- As I touched on here and here in recent draft prospect profiles, the Stars don't have any passing or playmaking specialists anywhere in their forward groups. It's a minor thing, but still something of note. If this sort of player isn't readily available in the first or second rounds it will be interesting to watch older draft returnees like Conor Garland and Trevor Cox as potential steals in the later rounds.
- Overall, however, the Stars' future is in pretty darn good shape. There are high end young players with NHL potential, as well as a solid level of depth, at all positions, but especially center, left wing and defense. Outside of a couple of picks of necessity, the Stars will have a lot of freedom to pursue the best player available with each selection, or swing for the fences with some high-risk, high-reward prospects.