Picks, prospects, possible trades: It's all NHL draft all the time! Our friend Mike Heika at The Dallas Morning News has posted a round-up of predictions from hockey authorities — including Defending Big D — on whom the Dallas Stars will pick at No. 12. A definite consensus has emerged from all these disparate choices, and that consensus pick may or may not surprise you.
Of the seven expert sources Heika consulted, three have picked right wing Timo Meier of the Halifax Mooseheads, including NHL.com's Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale. USA Today said this:
"The Swiss player scored 44 goals this season and then produced quality playoff numbers with 10 goals and 21 points in 14 games. This pick could end up being one of the steals of the draft."
Meanwhile, both SportsNet and NESN.com think the Stars will get, and take, the chance to draft Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds. NESN explains why:
Barzal is a playmaking center who could consistently create scoring chances for talented Dallas goal scorers Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin. Injuries affected Barzal's 2014-15 campaign, but he still scored at more than a point-per-game pace.
There's more, as always, and plenty of fodder for discussion as well. [SportsDayDFW]
Heika is staying extra-busy this week, not only with his column, but as part of the #StarsDraft Roundtable. Here he and Josh Bogorad, Bruce LeVine and Owen Newkirk talk about the first round and how it could develop for the Stars:
Check out the full series so far, plus Mark Stepneski's draft profiles on 60 top 2015 prospects, at DallasStars.com/Draft.
Elsewhere in Heika: Can Jim Nill reverse the Stars' history of first-round busts? The 'Stache believes that attention to detail in every round raises the "total value" of any given draft. [SportsDayDFW]
"These are 18-year-old kids, and while we all want to think we know how they're going to turn out, we don't.... So you have to make every pick count, and you have to over-prepare so that you're ready to take advantage of every situation."
Nill's effectiveness as a general manager is often traced back directly to his skill as a scout. Here he talks with Josh Bogorad about the process of getting great prospects, and getting them NHL-ready.
Nill and Joe McDonnell, the Stars' director of amateur scouting, also spent some time with Mark Stepneski. Here they talk about how to find those late-round steals like Jamie Benn and John Klingberg, as well as the dark art of drafting goaltenders. [Stars Inside Edge]
Are the New York Islanders preparing to trade Kyle Okposo? The Isles don't have a draft pick until the third round this year. GM Garth Snow suggests they may attempt to trade for a first or second, and reports indicate the 27-year-old right wing may be the chip they use to pull it off. [NHL.com]
The Anaheim Ducks were making progress on re-signing Matt Beleskey until they weren't. Now the team is promising "one more try" at securing the 27-year-old left wing's future services, with moving on being the next option. [Orange County Register]
In other Battle of California news, the L.A. Kings' extracurricular legal woes continue as Jarret Stoll faces felony charges related to cocaine possession after his arrest in Las Vegas. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Who's most likely to fall from the top 10 in the 2015 NHL draft — and who might improbably rise? Hockey Central at Noon took on this topic yesterday. Watch for blue-chip players who missed time with injuries to be available later than you might expect. Also, think about the difference between a small player and a short player, which is a lot more important than you might suppose. [SportsNet]
You already know that Patrick Sharp is the guy most likely to wind up on the business end of the Chicago Blackhawks' salary cap squeeze. James Neveau breaks down possible destinations for the 33-year-old forward, presuming any of them can stop laughing at the Hawks' list of demands. [NBC Chicago]
Meanwhile, in other cap-strapped team news, the Montreal Canadiens have to make some trade decisions soon. Eric Engels focuses on five ready-to-move players, including Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais. [SportsNet]
The Ryan O'Reilly seesaw seems to have dropped back into trade mode. The Colorado Avalanche are looking for a left-handed defenseman, and the team's inability to strike a deal with the 24-year-old center may have turned him into a moving part. [The Score]
Could Phil Kessel end up back in Boston? Gunnar Carlsson takes a look at his eight-team trade list and speculates. [Pension Plan Puppets]
In other news, former Star (and perennial fan fave) Marty Turco will become CEO of the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas in 2016. The organization helps at-risk youth graduate from high school and move on to college and careers. [Dallas Morning News]
FInally: What's it like to be in Connor McDavid's shoes right now? On the eve of The Next One's Friday coronation, Gare Joyce has put together a pretty amazing long read on what will probably be the last normal days of his life.